Immediate restoration of damaged telecommunication infrastructure was carried out within a few weeks. Several funded projects were implemented to improve data collection and decision-making infrastructure, thereby improving the response times to inform the public of national emergency situations and developing emergency communications and notification capabilities. By the end of 2006, a few early warning systems had already been constructed.
Image: Tsunami affected telecommunication infrastructure in Sri Lanka
Electricity was supplied to most of the temporary settlement camps. The damaged network was replaced and by the end of 2006 almost all the relocated families had access to electricity. The government planned to carry out rebuilding of the electricity supply in 3 phases. Within the first phase, CEB (Ceylon Electricity Board) was able to restore power supply within 2 months of the Tsunami to all affected areas. CEB had almost fully completed network development requirements under the second phase by reinstating and newly constructing high tension and low tension distribution lines and substations. Already CEB had connected 17,928 new tsunami houses (RADA, 2006b).
Constraints in the electricity sector were identified as: materials shortages for the remaining restoration work; delays in the procurement process; a lack of donor funding for the latter phases; and, planning difficulties due to unknown overall power requirements for housing and other reconstruction such as roads and bridges, schools, hospitals, and public buildings. 10-15% of the transitional shelters still did not have electricity.
Water supply & sanitation
Restoration of essential and immediate needs was fulfilled perfectly. Affected wells were emptied and disinfected within a month. 130 water related projects have been planned and donors have committed funds for 96 projects, which are in progress (RADA, 2006a). Long-term sanitary projects are still in progress (RADA, 2006a).
Image: Tsunami affected water supply infrastructure
Most of the projects would not be completed as originally planned due to various constraints, such as a lack of maintenance of water/gully bowsers and packaged water treatment plant, securing counterpart funding (VAT/Duty), delays in procurement of tools and equipment, a lack of enhancement of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board’s (NWSDB) project management and monitoring capacity, and difficulties related to design and formulation.
Reconstruction of infrastructure
Typically, many of the victims of a disaster are the poor (Anand, 2005; Ofori, 2002; Government of India, 2002; Gunasekara, 2006). It was recognised that following the Tsunami 2004, although the initial restoration work of infrastructure was completed within a relatively short period of time in Sri Lanka, there are clearly still some key challenges in the post-disaster reconstruction process in achieving economic development (RADA, 2006; Palliyaguru et al. 2007, Palliyaguru et al. 2006). The South Asian Disaster Report, ‘Tackling the Tides and Tremors’, by Duryog Nivaran (2005) identified a key challenge with respect to the longer-term and larger task of developing the infrastructure and services along the devastated coastal belt and to new settlements. The challenge identified was whether recovery is used to address disparities in quality and access of infrastructure and services to communities. Thus, it is wise to study how do post disaster infrastructure reconstruction projects address the above loopholes? Nivaran (2005) questions, in particular, to what extent infrastructure re-development would extend towards and deal with issues related to poor people’s infrastructure and service needs, reconcile environmental-development complexities and link development to future disaster risk management. On the other hand, while the infrastructure needs are increasingly recognised, in many developing countries key infrastructure services are still in serious short supply, of poor quality, and coverage in particular is typically much lower in rural areas where most poor people live. However, urban coverage is also under pressure, partly because of rapid rural-urban migration in many countries (Briceño-Garmendia, 2004). According to ‘The Central Bank of Sri Lanka Annual Report, 2005’, infrastructure facilities have been expanding in Sri Lanka but are not adequate or competitive yet, thereby constraining economic growth. Accordingly, the adequacy and quality of services provided by public enterprises in the areas of electricity generation, transmission and distribution, passenger transport and water supply leave much to be desired (CBSL, 2005). According to the report, the country has the potential to develop these service sectors.
‘Enhancing regional cooperation in infrastructure development including that related to disaster management’ by Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has identified initiatives taken by range of institutions in achieving important factors in dealing with disasters, namely infrastructure development for disaster prevention, critical infrastructure protection during disasters and efficient reconstruction of infrastructure in the post disaster. This includes combined efforts by all sectors to plan ahead for disasters, build capacity and strengthen institutional arrangements, including legislation that covers land-use regulations, building codes and environmental protection.
Other initiatives include drawing up an integrated disaster risk management plan that covers multi hazard risk considerations which should guide the post-tsunami reconstruction program and in general all development programs, early warning systems, training and public awareness programmes, as well as emergency response management, recovery resources and strengthening community-based organizations. As location is a key factor determining levels of risk, land-use plans and mapping are useful tools for identifying the most suitable usage of land in vulnerable areas, determining the location of buildings, roads, power plants and fuel storage depots (ESCAP, 2006). Even though Sri Lanka is a member of ESCAP, it was sluggish compared to the progress achieved by other member countries (ESCAP, 2006). However with intensified globalization, the capacity of individual countries is not enough to meet the scale and scope of the Asian and Pacific region’s infrastructure needs and their effective fulfilment, and thus require regional solutions to complement national efforts. Regional cooperation in both infrastructure development and its financing, are required (ESCAP, 2006).The rebuilding of social institutions and capacity of communities is crucial.
From early primary and secondary education, to later Professional education, should create awareness and knowledge of hazard risk reduction. National and local authorities, NGOs and the public should be routinely trained and exercised in emergency management as a part of their civil servant training and networked to share their experiences through identified means that help to maintain a well functioning system to respond. Both the public and the authorities will need to understand the basic principles if disaster risk is to be reduced. Setting up of regional centres of excellence to promote training, awareness raising and exchange of knowledge between developing countries, would also contribute to effective disaster management. Even though research is undertaken in particular disciplines, there should be a proper mechanism for the transference of knowledge from research institutions to the market, government and professionals. Also, integration of sustainability awareness into mainstream education and graduate programmes, and continued professional education to improve sustainability awareness and skills, is of paramount importance. The European Commission is taking a number of measures including, capacity building of major partners, strengthening the Commission’s network of humanitarian experts and supporting the development of the rapid assessment and response capacity of the UN and other key partners. Additional measures foreseen include establishing a network of Member States Humanitarian response focal points to ensure a more coherent EU response.
Infrastructure planning and designing in the post disaster phase must accomplish remedial solutions for a missing baseline. The post disaster reconstruction process needs to address not only infrastructure that may have been damaged in the disaster, but also infrastructure that never existed or infrastructure that has been damaged due to a lack of maintenance. Infrastructure management in the long term recovery phase must involve disaster reduction or mitigatory measures. For example, maintenance is a major issue for all transport modes. This includes preventative maintenance, such as sealing cracks in road pavements, grading shoulders and cleaning drains to minimize the incidence of wash-aways, as well as planned rehabilitation. Regular road maintenance offers major benefits yet is so neglected in some developing countries that every additional amount spent on maintenance and rehabilitation saves twice as much in reconstruction costs and reduced wear and tear on vehicles (ESCAP, 2006). In Sri Lanka some of these infrastructure facilities have been continuously maintained without any significant capacity upgrade for nearly 100 years. The railway network in Sri Lanka has not been extended since it was introduced under British rule. Even within the post tsunami context, Sri Lanka faces predicaments in maintenance of water/gully bowsers and packaged water treatment plants (O&M cost recovery) and securing counterpart funding (RADA, 2006).
Challenges associated with infrastructure reconstruction
Lack of institutional capacity
The capacity of developing countries in facing natural catastrophes is minimal (Ofori, 2002). However reconstruction and rehabilitation activities of infrastructure in the post-disaster period need to be carried out efficiently. Thus infrastructure reconstruction usually takes a long time after a catastrophe (Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, 2006). Even though it is accepted that there should be a link between humanitarian relief and long-term recovery, there is currently no agreement concerning the extent to which the fore should support the latter (ALNAP, 2006). Capacity at a local government level to plan and implement recovery strategies is usually very limited and often incapacitated as a result of a disaster. Stable and secure post-disaster recovery and long term development is threatened by institutional constraints, and a lack of access to appropriate professional skills and knowledge to support local effort.
Lack of contracts capacity
Local contractors’ lack of capacity in terms of numbers of contractors, equipment availability, size and skills of the labour force and management practices, can also be a major constraint. In the water supply and sanitation sector, the enhancement of project management and monitoring capacity, and difficulties related to design and formulation could become a major difficulty that leads projects to lag behind expectations. Being deficient in capacity appears in the form of: lack of pro-activity to commence sanitation studies and development of sewerage for new settlements; planning difficulties in electricity reconstruction without the overall power requirement for housing and other reconstructions such as roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and public buildings.
Security problems and communication barriers
Security problems can be a major barrier against progressing towards achieving identified reconstruction targets. For example, the security situation in the North and East of Sri Lanka worsened from late 2005 and constrained reconstruction efforts. A Post-Tsunami Operational Structure (PTOMS) was proposed in early 2005, whereby the government and LTTE would share decisions on Tsunami aid allocations in the North and East. But discussions were drawn out on this until finally it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court at the end of 2005. This caused a one year delay for many donors’ work in the north east. UN agencies and ICRC have restricted access to LTTE controlled areas and INGOs have no access at all. In some circumstances, without ceasefire agreements, reconstruction in conflict affected areas is difficult to implement. However, donors could seek to take mitigation measures to keep on with their work in affected areas such as focusing on areas where work can continue.
Procurement delays and non-availability of materials
Procurement methods can be very lengthy and tedious, which makes the reconstruction process very slow. Procurement problems can delay access to tools, equipment and vehicles, or appropriate supervision. A sudden increase in the demand for building materials tends to increase prices and lead to a lack of availability or delays in sourcing materials.
The RICS Mind the GAP report (RICS, 2006) highlights the ineffectiveness of medium-term recovery and long-term reconstruction due to a lack of planning, co-ordinated management and targeted funding of the response in the post-disaster recovery phase, despite the huge improvements in the emergency response. Stable and secure post-Tsunami infrastructure reconstruction is threatened by gaps in communication and failures in management and planning. Because of the different types of organisation and interest involved, the link between immediate humanitarian relief and the longer-term reconstruction is often poorly managed. For instance, coordination can be hampered by donors, NGOs and government. NGOs often do not coordinate their actions effectively. Government suffers from overlaps between units, especially from the lack of clarity of competences between line units and other related agencies. Development partners frequently fail to:
coordinate with government authorities at the central and local level
link up actions and
do cross-sectoral programming
Case study 2: What lessons can we learn from other settings? California Earthquake 2003
The 6.5 earthquake which hit central California in 2003 took two lives and injured 40 people. By comparison, the 6.6 earthquake, which hit Iran four days later, killed over 40,000 people. Both events took place in areas with high-density populations (DFID 2005). This suggests the impact of disasters in far greater in developing countries. The RICS identified the necessity to develop a worldwide network of trained professionals, ready to join recovery and reconstruction teams working with affected people. International exchange of best practices and knowledge sharing among practitioners, authorities and NGOs, particularly from the region, can significantly contribute to capacity building at all levels. The need of working out an effective framework for drawing on analysis of systems failures and success seen in past disasters has also been emphasised.