Roanu’s wrath

Disaster response and the use of technology. Some thoughts on how ICTs were used in the response to Cyclone Roanu that hit Sri Lanka earlier this month.

Disasters make pundits of many. And yet, when the next hazard hits, we often tend to deal with the significant challenges around the same, if not greater magnitude of a disaster. The process is cyclical, with no meaningful learning, or reform. Piecemeal approaches hold sway. Promises by politicians, emergency government funding and the largesse of foreign countries have traditionally helped Sri Lanka address disasters. The response to Cyclone Roanu showcased something different. It is too early, and perhaps even too naïve to expect any major upheaval in the way we plan for, respond to and recover from large-scale natural disasters. And yet, there were several significant features around the response to Roanu that bear merit flagging.

On 31 March 2012 around 5.30pm, Menik Farm, at the time still a large IDP camp, was hit by a cyclone. There was no severe weather warning issued by the Meteorological Department. A BBC…

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