Gazing out over the parched earth of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, one might think these farmlands have not seen water in years. In fact, this is not too far from the truth.
By now, the tale has become almost mundane: first the rains remain elusive, refusing to quench the parched earth. Then, without warning, they fall in such torrents that they leave scores dead, hundreds injured, and thousands homeless, plus a heavy bill in accrued damages.
It was another Monday afternoon in the remote Thai village of Baan Dong when an incoming text message lit up the black, dust-covered Nokia phone belonging to Eiem Sompeng.
Wild elephants are usually the primary attraction in the remote shrub jungles of Udawalawe, about 180 kilometres southeast of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo. But this Christmas season, the massive Udawalawe dam stole the limelight from the lumbering beasts.