Somebody emailed me this T-Shirt offer (24 USD). It confuses me cause it makes the Tsunami look like a Disneyland Ride. I guess that shouldn’t confuse me, cause that’s exactly what it is.
As far as natural disasters go, the Tsunami was pretty ideal. It killed the poor, cleared the shanty-towns, trashed the rebel-held territory, and created 100s of high-paying jobs. Now the government is doing its little 100 meter rule (which applies only to shanty-towns) to take back beach real-estate, the LTTE is fighting amongst itself, and the International NGOs have colonized the Colombo hotels. I don’t mean to be cynical, and I’m not especially informed, but lets see where these little allegations lead:
Tsunami as Eviction Notice
As I have already written ad nauseum, the government has effectively banned reconstruction by, shit, that’s all there is to it. They banned reconstruction. If your house was completely destroyed, then you can’t rebuild it. If it wasn’t destroyed then you can, paradoxically, rebuild it. The government will tell you if your house is ‘officially’ destroyed or damaged. In a progressive step towards privatization, cash is accepted. To preserve Sri Lankan heritage, relations of blood or marriage are also good. The official rule is that reconstruction of private property within 100 meters of the coast is banned.
The wording makes it look like a safety issue, but apparently the government only cares about the safety of poor people. If you had a solid, respectable building then you can stay. If you were living in a shanty, then you are shit out of luck. As for public infrastructure (traditionally the domain of government), it can stay. That means that the Galle Road, railroad, government buildings, document registries, and the President’s house can all stay.
So, as far as I in my non-reading of the of the actual law can read, if you’re poor then the Tsunami was your eviction notice. If you’re not, then it is a paycheck. As a note, I don’t necessarily think that moving the shanty-towns away from the beach is a bad idea. However, the government hasn’t told them anywhere to go, except to hell. Furthermore I think that forcing displaced people to wait on the ruins of their land and do nothing is quite possibly the worst torture I could imagine for these people. If you go down there and see people waiting on the foundation of their house it turns any economic arguments to vomit in your mouth. If you want to make Sri Lanka safe then move Galle Road and public infrastructure and people will move with it of their own accord. If you want to get rid of poor people just put them in concentration camps and kill them. Actually, that’s where they are. Just kill them.
Tsunami as Navy
I was looking at Prabahakaran’s little map of Tamil Eelam, and it’s funny cause it looks just a lot like the map of Tsunami affected areas. The Tigers control the rural areas on the East and North coast, and guess where T. Sunami hit? Their Navy must have been affected, and there are rumours that Prabahakaran himself is dead. This last bit is, of course, impossible as Praba has an adamantium skeleton and gills and shit.
Tsunami as Job Offer
If you look in the latest Sunday papers, the classifieds sections are full of International NGOs advertising for Project Managers, Administrative Assistants, etc. These people are flush with cash but most of them can’t pronounce the names of any of the places they’re supposed to be serving, and they’re setting up networks from scratch. This is not to single out all NGOs at all, I know that Care and Oxfam have been here for years, Red Cross too but I don’t know for sure. But there are like, seriously, 10,000 NGOs here.
Normally I would say its great that they are providing employment, but it’s screwing up the local labor market. These guys are here for like 6 months, and they have USD or Euros to work with. Thus they pay high short-term salaries. That is cool, but local NGOs cannot compete in this labor market. I’ve heard of one case where an accountant making 7,500 (75$ – shitty, but normal) leaving their local field job for a 35,000 job with an International NGO. I myself might be tempted to leave the local organization I work for if I wasn’t interested in working with people who’ve been in the villages before and will be there after 6 months. However, I’ve looked at the requirements and I’m actually not qualified, and neither are any of the useful people I know. If you have a degree or Masters in Development or something like that there are lots of well-paying jobs here.
Anyways, the beaches are clean, the war is kinda under control, and there’s plenty of middle-class work. Come visit Sri Lanka. And buy a T-Shirt.