Severe flooding brought on by monsoon rains and heavy winds across southwestern portions of Sri Lanka has caused floods and landslides in the South and South west areas of the country while over 100,000 drought hit farmers in many other areas have not received rains that they were yearning for.
Around 630,082 people belonging to 163,889 families have been affected in 15 Districts due to the flood situation. According to the situation report issued by Disaster Management Committee on 31-05-2017 1800hrs there have been 203 Deaths and 96 people are reported missing. Over 1,509 houses have been destroyed and around 7643 houses are partially damaged. Thousands of Sri Lankan families remained in temporary places of refuge unable to return to their homes as the death toll from devastating floods and mudslides climbed past 200.
Apart from the displaced the poor plantation estate workers and the daily paid workers have been unable to earn their living and have been without an income or support the past week and will not see a major change in the coming weeks as well. Dry rations, food supplies, clothing are amongst the most needed along with medical support.
With several government exams in the pipe line the students have very little time to catch up and need support in their educational material, trauma counselling and psychosocial support.
People are still experiencing rain and heavy winds in most areas whilst the flood levels are receding very slowly further delaying the people from going back to their homes. The rains have subsided in other areas but landslide warnings are still in effect. The NCCSL retreat Centre, at Athurugiriya, which was covered with 07 feet of water is now being cleaned.
Response at local and national level
The government of Sri Lanka, through its chain of government officials, the Police, Army and Naval forces are working in the affected areas mainly ensuring safety.Volunteer organisations, media institutions and various groups with coordinating capacity have been collecting dry rations and water for the affected people. Several areas still remain inaccessible and aid has not trickled in to those areas. The government has appealed to the international community for support in the relief and rebuilding work. The local churches that have concentrated on providing cooked food are now moving out to the provide dry rations.
NCCSL’s Response as at 1st June 2017
NCCSL, through its local church and interfaith partners on the ground has already provided around 4000 cooked meals.
We are now launching an appeal to provide 2500 dry ration packs to those most affected and emergency support to 750 households. These include Kitchen Utensil packs, House cleaning Kits and Hygiene Kits. We plan to distribute 1000 Education packs to young people as well as conducting supplementary classes for O and A level students. We also hope to support the cleaning of up to 50 wells and conduct 4 medical camps.
Distribution will be to vulnerable communities in hard to reach areas in Matara, Ratnapura (Nivithigala), Kalutara and Galle. They will be distributed through our local church partners who are on the ground and in regular contact with us.
Reports coming in from the field indicate the existence of gaps in the relief operation, and the difficulty in getting back to their homes and livelihoods. The children remain most affected having lost their text books, notes, clothing and traumatised. The field reports suggest that the number of victims from the landslide is far greater than what is being reported and some bodies may never be recovered.
Although emergency relief is essential we need to develop a long term strategy with the churches and affected communities to respond to the dual difficulties of drought and floods and the ever increasing risk of landslides. These particular affect the most vulnerable and the poor in Sri Lanka year after year including the farmers.