“We used to have a big garden with chilies, potatoes, guava, mango, banana and many coconut trees. All had been washed away”, said Roshanthi.
Coastal erosion occurs over time due to various factors. The research considered the natural and human factors which contribute to the coastal erosion. Natural factors include wind factor, coast orientation, littoral drift, compartmentalisation, natural sand supply, lithology, continental shelf topography and sea level changes. Human factors included coral mining, sand mining, destruction of beach-rock, construction and destruction of vegetation. Although the research pointed out the correlation between sea level rise and coastal erosion, it only said “it is not possible to express a definite views on this at present”.
There is very few information on the sea level rise around Sri Lanka available on line. We may, however, consider the sea level rise as an effect of climate change is one of the important factors prompting the erosion along the coasts of Sri Lanka given the similar cases found around the world.
People in Kalpitiya, like other coastal areas in Sri Lanka, have been seriously affected by the coastal erosion and inundation.
Most of the fisherfolk in Kalpitiya interviewed by National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO) are migrants, have moved from other part of the Kalpitiya peninsula such as Keerimundal due to coastal erosion and inundation.
According to the research conducted by NAFSO, changes in the climate cycles and weather patterns are clearly felt by the fisher women in Kalpitiya, particularly higher sea level during the high tide, unseasonal monsoons and stronger gales.They pointed out that the narrow stretch of sand bar has submerged, which let more water come in towards the shore. They felt water level rises higher particularly during Dec-May (relatively dry season with strong wind in this area).
Since they do not own land in the new place, they filled the shore or wetland with sands and stones to create land and built houses. They built their houses with available materials like coconut leaves, cement brocks, some were built by NGOs. On such fragile land, they are still vulnerable to inundation.
Water sometimes rises above the floor level. Some people evacuate to their relatives while some have to remain home staying on the table if there is no other places to go. Children cannot go to school.
The local government did not allow them to stay without permits. People had to fight for it. They have the votes. The villagers feel the local government does nothing for them. Only during the election campaigns they come to give them empty promises.
Some have electricity with regular power cuts. Some don’t but use kerosene lamps. Some even do not have a lamp.
There is a private owned water tank built in the community. Villagers have to pay 3-400 Rs or more per month for drinking water.
There is no toilet at home but communal ones. Without proper toilet it is difficult particularly when the area gets flooded. They buy firewood from the shops for cooking.
Another serious issue affecting fisherfolk in Kalpitiya is the construction of the tourist attractions such as hotels and resort compound with private beach, which often grabbed the land from the local fisherfolk without consultation process and just compensation. For more on this issue, please see: