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After The Tsunami 2004

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School, Batticaloa

On Dec. 26th, 2004, the most disastrous tsunami of modern times killed 231.000 people.

The City of Munich had a working partnership with the city of Batticaloa on the east cost of Sri Lanka at this time, and the municipal council of Munich decided to donate 700.000 € for immediate help and reconstruction tasks. As I was the local project manager for our Sri Lanka project at that time, I was the first to travel to Sri Lanka and speak with officials which kind of help was needed the most – a visit that certainly changed my perception of the world.

Tsunami: Still not all Corpses buried after two months: Orte/Sri Lanka/Kalmunai

The sheer smell of decaying corpses, still not completely buried two months after the catastrophy, haunted me for years, and so did the banality of the mass graves.

Post Tsunami Mass Graves Batticaloa: Orte/Sri Lanka/Batticaloa

Fortunately enough there are also positive things to remember, the energy of my Sri Lankan colleagues certainly the first to be mentioned. The City of Munich won UN-Habitat as a partner for reconstruction works, and later the European Union contracted Munich for a followup program to improve water and sanitation for tsunami victims.

4 thoughts

  1. Thoughtful post and poignant photographs. Any chance you’ll get back there for follow up report?

    1. Thanks, Michael! After the Tsunami, I was probably 15 times in Batticaloa, for project purposes and also for a privately financed followup. And just before christmas I learned that the NGO we collaborated with will get some more external funds so we can start a new education and capacity building project in Batticaloa in 2015.

  2. Obwohl ich weit davon weg war, geht mir das immer mal wieder durch den Kopf. Damals fasste ich das als eine Art Mentekel auf, am 26.12..

    1. Ein schwer von der Hand zu weisender Gedanke, Hans, auch wenn es “nur” eine Naturerscheinung war und mit dem menschengemachten Klimaunheil wohl gar nichts zu tun hatte.

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