Sorry stories from Sri Lanka
Two friends recently returned from Sri Lanka, travelling independently of each other. Neither work in disaster relief but both are smart and aware and made a point of asking people about their experiences. They told me similar things, among which:
- 16 months later, many people are still living in tents.
- In a rush to hit spending budgets within the first 12 months, several Western charities reverted to the culturally insensitive ways which they all claim to have left behind. So when fishermen from one village were presented with a fleet of modern fishing boats they pointedly ignored it and built their own traditional boats from local materials. The new ones glint in the sun on the beach. No-one asked them if they wanted them.
- Ironically an alarming proportion of the disaster relief money still hasn't been spent (hence the tents).
- Western hotel chains are greasing official palms so they can stick their hotels where the fishing villages were, pushing the locals inland (away from their fishing boats).
- Homegrown local charities appear to be doing the most useful work.
- Sri Lanka is on the verge of a three-way civil war.