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Building -- and Protecting -- Houses in Sri Lanka

The tsunami that struck coastal communities on the Indian Ocean last December displaced more than 500,000 people in Sri Lanka alone. Many survivors are still without permanent homes.

Architect Terrance Brown of the American Institute of Architects recently returned from a survey of the country's damaged coastline. His trip was part of an effort by American architects, engineers, planners and landscape designers who are advising the Sri Lankans on how to re-build.

Brown says that damage from the tsunami's high, fast-moving waters was particularly severe in some areas because Sri Lanka's natural defenses -- like sand berms and dunes -- had been altered, leaving them weakened. Noting that the berms were sometimes removed entirely, Brown says part of his group's advice centers on helping ensure that coastal residents would not be as vulnerable if a similar disaster returns.

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Longtime listeners recognize Jacki Lyden's voice from her frequent work as a substitute host on NPR. As a journalist who has been with NPR since 1979, Lyden regards herself first and foremost as a storyteller and looks for the distinctive human voice in a huge range of national and international stories.