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The tsunami of 2004 in Sri Lanka: An introduction to impacts and policy in the shadow of civil war

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The tsunami of 2004 and ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka are treated in the Special Issue of Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography as two inter-related disasters. Both have been shaped by long-established patterns of vulnerability. Understanding their outcomes and offering constructive critique about policy responses depend both on explanations and models of social processes as well as an understanding of the post-tsunami policy process in the shadow of civil war. A framework is offered for analysing the policy process to which the articles in the Issue contribute. Policy process is examined in terms of policy narratives, the actors involved and their institutions. Two policy narratives constructed by international development institutions - vulnerability, and livelihood destruction and recovery - are discussed, followed by more focused policy narratives concerning internally displaced persons (IDPs), housing policy, resettlement, and the 'right to return'. They are reproduced dynamically between a range of actors, including those in civil society (differentiated by ethnicity, gender, age, wealth, social and political capital, and geographical location), international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), civilian government, the military, and others. Policy narratives evolve and interact reflexively with the policy process and address the impact and longer term development effects of the tsunami and the civil conflict that overshadows it.

Keywords: Sri Lanka; civil conflict; disaster recovery; policy narratives; tsunami

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2009

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