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Measuring revealed and emergent vulnerabilities of coastal communities to tsunami in Sri Lanka Jörn Birkmann, Dr.-Ing. Academic Officer and Head of Vulnerability Assessment Section, Institute for Environment and Human Security, United Nations University, Germany, and Nishara Fernando Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka This paper presents the important findings of a study undertaken in two selected tsunami-affected coastal cities in Sri Lanka (Batticaloa and Galle) to measure the revealed and emergent vul- nerability of coastal communities. International risk studies have failed to demonstrate the high vulnerability of coastal communities to tsunami in Sri Lanka. Therefore, indirect assessment tools to measure pre-event vulnerability have to be complemented by assessment tools that analyse revealed and emergent vulnerability in looking at the aftermath and impact patterns of a real scenario, as well as in examining the dynamics of disaster recovery in which different vulnerabil- ities can be identified. The paper first presents a conceptual framework for capturing vulnerability within a process-oriented approach linked to sustainable development. Next, it highlights selected indicators and methods to measure revealed and emergent vulnerability at the local level using the examples of Batticaloa and Galle. Finally, it discusses the usefulness and application of vulnerability indicators within the framework of reconstruction. Keywords: coastal geography, indicators, natural disasters, revealed and emergent vulnerability, risk reduction, vulnerability assessment 1. Introduction With more than 30 , 000 deaths and 500 , 000 displaced persons, Sri Lanka ranked second among the countries most seriously affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004 (Nishikiori et al., 2006 ). The devastating event revealed the enormous vulnerability of coastal communities in Sri Lanka. However, recovery and reconstruction, as well as future development strategies for coastal communities after the tsunami, are mid-to-long term tasks that should promote disaster-resilient societies by reducing vulnerability. This requires the provision of adequate infor- mation on the most vulnerable groups and factors that increase the likelihood of death and loss within the tsunami-affected areas. Interestingly, hazard researchers, such as EQECAT, a modelling company based in Europe and the United States, have come to the conclusion that an event like the December 2004 tsunami will occur approximately every 200 500 years (see Carpenter, 2005 ). Although this might be true, the Central and West Java tsunami of July 2006 , which resulted in more than 600 fatalities and left nearly 100 people missing and 2 , 000 injured (see WHO, doi: 10.1111 /j. 0361 - 3666.2007.01028 .x © 2007 The Author(s). Journal compilation © Overseas Development Institute, 2007.
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