The Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mr P. D. Amarasinghe joined LIRNEasia on a visit to Mirissa South, one of the best performing villages in the HazInfo Last-Mile project on 11 September 2007. The visit was organized by the Sarvodaya Community Based Disaster Management Center. The Matara District Sarvodaya Office and the Mirissa Sarvodaya Society hosted us. The objective of the visit was to express appreciation of the excellent performance of the village during the live tests and to try to understand the causes of the excellent organizational strengths of the village. A set of speakers gifted by our Canadian colleague Professor Peter Anderson and his wife Marcie was handed over for use with the WorldSpace addressable radio set used in the project.
The conversation revealed that the village, which lost 13 people (including two tourists) and suffered major damage to livelihood and property, stood out in taking responsibility for its disaster preparedness. The village society had a united and decentralized leadership structure; the leaders were aggressive in representing the interests of the members and was therefore trusted and supported. The village was open to new ideas unlike some others that resisted being trained by young trainers.