Life for a widow with young children in Sri Lanka’s poor agrarian areas can be harsh. Families in remote areas like Anuradhapura in the North Central Province barely eke out a living through paddy cultivation or through vegetable and other crops planted in cleared jungle shrub - Chena cultivation as it is called.
As he stood on the westernmost edge of Colombo’s new harbour expansion, it was hard for Priyath Bandu Wickrema - the man tasked with reinventing the port as a regional giant - to cap his enthusiasm.
A listing ship taking in water and facing up to the treacherous Indian Ocean monsoon is hardly cause for optimism.
It has been four years since the guns fell silent in Sri Lanka’s northern Vanni region, after almost three decades of ethnic violence. Unfortunately peace does not mean the end of hardship for the most vulnerable people here: the women.
The Monetary Board of Sri Lanka’s Central Bank, tasked with keeping the island’s economy on an even keel, does not only keep tabs on exchange rates, gold prices and inflation – it also has an eye on a less obvious indicator of economic stability: water levels in the country’s main reservoirs.
For the first time since Sri Lanka’s 30-year-long civil conflict drew to a bloody finish in May 2009, casting an eerie hush over the Northern Province that had grown accustomed to the sounds of war, there is a buzz in the air generated by the prospect of provincial elections that hold the promise of radical change.
It was several hours before dawn when Afthas Niflal, a young fisherman in southern Sri Lanka, felt the sea start to rumble beneath him.
Residents of Jhirpu Phulpingkatt, a village nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, about 110 km from Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, are on red alert.
The monsoon in Sri Lanka is always a much-awaited event. There is something about the sight of the gathered clouds, the washed trees and the drenched landscape that stirs romance even in the most hardened of souls.
With a combined population of over 1.7 billion, which includes some of the world’s poorest but also a sizeable middle class with a growing spending capacity, South Asia is a policymaker’s nightmare.
The camp should not have been difficult to find. We were told to drive straight on the road that leads north away from the town of Puttalam, 140 kilometres from Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, and we would come upon the settlement of internally displaced people.
The eve of the much anticipated Sinhala and Tamil New Year, celebrated across the island of Sri Lanka in mid-April to mark the end of the harvest season, was marred by a series of attacks, reminding everyone that “peace” does not mean a lack of violence.
Soon after the deadly tsunami struck Kesennuma city in the Miyagi Prefecture in Northern Japan on Mar. 11, 2011, 59-year-old Naoko Utsumi found herself on the rooftop of a community centre with only one line of communication to the outside world – the email option on her mobile phone.
Sri Lanka has paused for breath after the extreme weather conditions last year that many associate with climate change.
The sea is all that 40-year-old Arul Das has mastered. From looking at the clouds or from the direction of the wind, this fisher from northern Jaffna can predict the condition of the sea fairly accurately.