Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The Climate Challenge: Bridging the Information Gap through Innovative Climatic Information Products (CIPs)

By Athula Senaratne and Kapila Premarathne

Never in the recent history has Sri Lanka faced as many challenges due to disasters as the country did in the last decade. It experienced major floods in May 2016, a prolonged drought in 2016-17 Maha season and once again flash floods this May. Before that, flash floods disrupted the livelihoods of people in Anuradhapura in 2014. In 2013, fishermen lost lives and assets due to torrential rains and stormy conditions. Major floods in 2011 affected nearly all the districts. In just over 12 years, the country faced several other major disasters including, a tsunami, numerous landslides as well as the collapse of the largest waste dump yard, all of which claimed many lives, caused insurmountable damage to property and had long-lasting impacts on the economy. For instance, the prolonged droughts in 2016 affected food production and consumers were still experiencing higher retail prices in the markets when they were hit by floods in Southern and Sabaragamuwa provinces. Except for the 2004 tsunami and the Meethotamulla tragedy, which have geological and anthropogenic origins, the majority of other hazard events are climate driven. Consecutive climate-related disasters in recent years indicate the urgent need for disaster resilient coping mechanisms.