The tsunami occurred within three months of LIRNEasia’s founding. We were lucky. No one in LIRNEasia was directly affected, though there were several “what ifs”. It changed our research program for sure. We did three projects directly connected to the tsunami: NEWS:SL which was a study on how Sri Lanka could establish a robust, effective national early warning system (Note to the government: it’s not too late to implement even now), when we figured there would be no first-best solution, the HazInfo project that sought to understand how communities at the last mile could prepare themselves to receive government warning and respond appropriately, and a little pilot on how communities could be given voice called Webhamuva. As a follow up, we also did a study on public warning using cell broadcasting in the Maldives. Other related projects were on dam safety and early detection of diseases.
We are proud of what we have done, but not satisfied. There is more to be done, especially in implementing the findings of the HazInfo project with Sarvodaya. We will. Except for a media awareness event (not held because too many had been held), we delivered on every promise we made on the occasion of the three-month dana (alms giving). The Tsunami Memorial Research Fund has been fully, and productively, expended and closed down.
Five years later, the region is better prepared. We will not let up on the push to reduce risks further. That is the best remembrance of the thousands who died with no official warning.