Sri Lanka buffer zone forces fisher folk into other work: survey

Sept 12, 2007 (LBO) – A controversial buffer zone that banned re-building of homes of Sri Lankan victims near the coast after the December 2004 tsunami has forced fisher folk out of their traditional livelihood, a survey has found. “But there is urgent need to look around us not only look forward. There are still many challenges out there in the field of livelihoods that need urgent attention.” A survey by the International Labour Organization has found that 45 per cent of fisher families who have been resettled five kilometers away from the coast have had to change their livelihoods.

The widest buffer zones were seen in the East of the country.

The agriculture and the private sector services and its workers increased in those areas.

“As you know the houses that were affected in the coastal belt were mostly of fishermen. So 80 percent of the people who were settled in these areas were from the fishing community,” Mazahim Hanifa, a livelihood recovery advisor of an ILO-run project told a forum in Colombo.

“But now it has come down to 60 percent in terms of fisheries because of change of locations. Now they are far from the sea and they can’t practice what they did before.”

The sample survey was conducte