Background

Sri Lanka was hit by a massive Tsunami on December 26, 2004 around 8 am, caused by an earthquake in Indonesia (9.0 magnitude on the Richter scale). The Tsunami waves that struck the shores of several countries in the South Asian Region have caused unprecedented damage, both to life and property. Although in terms of cold statistics, the disaster may not be the worst faced by any country, it is unique in that, more than one country has been affected simultaneously and large extents of land have been devastated as a consequence. Besides Indonesia, which is a collection of several hundred of islands, the worst hit country has been Sri Lanka. The number of deaths recorded in Sri Lanka exceeds 33,000 to date. The number missing exceeds 20,000. One million have been rendered homeless. Damage to the infrastructure and the economy is estimated at more than USD 1.3 billion.

Although none of the Sarvodaya staff lost lives, many of Sarvodaya owned buildings including the Matara District Centre were destroyed due to the killer wave. Sarvodaya staff in the Southern and Eastern coast lost their homes and relatives while many Sarvodaya villages got completely washed away. Over 80 of SEEDS operated village development banks were destroyed completely and bodies of many members were found days after. As a result unrecoverable loans amount to over Rs. 75 million.

Sarvodaya which is the leading voluntary, non-governmental development organization in Sri Lanka has been in the forefront of providing humanitarian assistance in the Tsunami affected areas in the country. Presently, it is actively involved in the distribution of food items and clothing to the survivors, organizing medical care for the needy and the management of several welfare camps set up for those who have lost their dwellings. Apart from continuing these activities, it now wishes to implement several medium to long term programme for the rehabilitation of the affected population as well as the restoration of economic activity in the area. This paper outlines the Sarvodaya plan of action for a national programme of Re-awakening.