Since the study was completed a major natural disaster hit Sri Lanka. The tsunami that struck Sri Lanka on 26 December 2004 affected approximately two-thirds of the country’s coastline. The highest damage in terms of life and property loss was in Eastern province. The tsunami also resulted in destruction of infrastructure. Areas affected in Northern province were Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. Large scale displacement occurred with the Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee, the three districts that comprise Eastern province, accounting for about half of the total displaced population (270 000). Of these three districts, Ampara was most affected. Livelihood activities were destroyed and disrupted. Most of those adversely affected were small scale fisher folk, petty traders and those engaged in various micro enterprises. The tsunami damage in the east far exceeded losses inflicted by the armed conflict. Social costs were as high as material costs. In fact the tsunami disaster exacerbated the conflict-induced problems.
Recent research studies and assessments show the gendered nature of the tsunami disaster’s impact. Relief assistance in most instances was ‘gender blind’, but cash grants were given to males. Land issues have surfaced with regard to a coastal buffer zone, state and private land, and occupation and ownership. A continuing critical need is restoration of livelihood activities. Single parent families have increased and vulnerable groups such as the elderly have taken on additional responsibilities.
The 2002 cease fire agreement held in the months following the tsunami disaster. A change in political leadership saw renewed efforts to reach a negotiated settlement of the conflict, but talks stalled and cease fire violations took a turn for the worse with fears of a return to full scale war looming.