It’s been 12.5 years since the tsunami hit to coast of Sri Lanka;
8 years since the end of the civil war;
A little over 1 year since severe flooding and landslides;
A little over 1 month since the latest severe flooding and landslide to hit Sri Lanka;
And is currently experiencing the worst drought in the Northern province since 2001.
And all the while, despite the climatic devastations that this country has faced, the country has rebounded with unrelenting national support. The Facebook community shared weather alerts and flood relief information while local expats and nationals crowd-sourced a Google Maps page to highlight vulnerable areas and shelter spots.
Now, living in Galle, you wouldn’t be able to tell that the 2004 tsunami devastated the area and you wouldn’t be able to tell that hundreds of families evacuated the area just a few weeks ago. From the quiet shuffle of the akkas going to the market, shaded by their umbrellas from the burning sun, kids zipping through town on their bikes, bus drivers honking to declare their presence, and the occasional cow crossing the road, there is a sense of calm amongst the chaos and nuanced routine.
The beauty of Sri Lanka remains – even after the storm. The resilience of its people grows even stronger with each tribulation. And still, lurking in the shadows is the reality of our changing planet; where each climate crisis feels worse than the last.
The new era we’re in now is one that demands the concerted effort of humanity to protect the earth. Human suffering is a casualty of climate change, as we’ve seen in Sri Lanka, and desensitization is not an option.
I’m inspired by the community in Sri Lanka. By Canadians like Linda Bui who’ve joined forces with Sri Lankans to create the Crisis Map via Google and champion little wins after the storm. My own work in Sri Lanka looks at the impact of climate change in the tourism industry, but more broadly, on humanity. What is happening and what can be done?