An estimated 520,000 people across eight provinces (Eastern, North Central, North Western, Northern, Sabaragamuwa, Uva, Central and Western) were affected by drought as of 13 October 2016. The Government has allocated US$140,000 and 159 water trucks to 22 districts. Some 60 schools have been closed due to water shortages, affecting 26,000 children. The Minister for Disaster Management will meet humanitarian partners to discuss the impact and plan their response on 21 October. (OCHA, 17 Oct 2016)
As of 7 November, more than 450,000 people across 17 districts were affected by drought — a significant reduction compared with 800,000 affected people the week prior. According to the local Meteorological Department, rains are expected in the drought affected areas over the coming 10 days which should ease the drought conditions but also poses a risk of floods. (OCHA, 7 Nov 2016)
As of 17 January, an estimated 644,000 people across eight provinces were affected by drought and salt water intrusion over the previous four months. Batticaloa District in Eastern province was the worst affected with 302,000 people experiencing the effects of drought. The Government initiated water trucking in Batticaloa and took measures to import additional rice in the event the prolonged drought has significant impact on food supplies. The President of Sri Lanka established a Task Force to coordinate the response. (OCHA, 23 Jan 2017)
Parts of the country received heavy rains in late January, causing floods in some areas. This will temporarily alleviate water shortages for human and animal use in some areas, but the damage done to the Maha crop is irreversible and there is continued concern for the subsequent Yala season due to the still very low water levels in reservoirs (73 major reservoirs stand at only 28% of their capacity). Based on historical trends, the combined production of staple crops foreseen from the two 2017 harvests is expected to result in the worst rice production levels in the last 10 years. (WFP, 31 Jan 2017)
Even if rainfall is received in the early months of the year, Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector is unlikely to make a full recovery in 2017. With much of the poor households concentrated in the rural areas and dependent on agriculture for access to income, and local production representing the bulk of food sources in the country, livelihood opportunities and food insecurity are only likely to worsen among the most vulnerable. (ACAPS, 23 Feb 2017)
As of 3 March, an estimated 1.2 million people were affected by prolonged drought in 16 districts across Sri Lanka’s nine provinces. Kalutara District (Western Province) had the most people affected due to salinisation of the water supply. WASH, food security and nutrition, agricultural livelihoods and cash-for-work programmes have been identified as priority response activities. (OCHA, 6 Mar 2017)
As of 19 March, more than one million people were affected by prolonged drought in 17 out of 25 districts of Sri Lanka. According to a joint household assessment, an estimated 900,000 people were identified as in urgent need of food assistance, with 25,000 people severely food insecure. Food, water and sanitation, health and agriculture were urgent priority needs. (OCHA, 20 Mar 2017)
As of 5 April, 900,000 drought-affected people were classed as severely food insecure, of which 80,000 needed immediate support to mitigate the impact of the drought and 25,000 require urgent humanitarian assistance. The loss of two consecutive harvests due to poor rainfall has impacted food security and resilience. As a consequence of the poor Maha harvest, seeds for the Yala season are “seriously compromised.” This, coupled with water shortages, could exacerbate the situation if the Yala harvest is severely impacted as expected. (OCHA, 10 Apr 2017)
As of 21 April, a joint in-country drought response plan is currently being developed by the Humanitarian Country Team in consultation with the Ministry of Disaster Management. NGO consortium partners are supporting local authorities in providing water, sanitation and hygiene services and unconditional cash grants. In March, US$3 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund was allocated to provide life-saving assistance. (OCHA, 24 Apr 2017)
As of 22 June, prolonged drought conditions, which have persisted since mid-2016, continue to impact more than 849,752 people in 11 districts in North, East, Northcentral, Northwestern and Uva provinces, according to Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Centre. Authorities are distributing water through water trucks to drought-affected families in some areas only. UNICEF has initiated tube well rehabilitation near the affected communities. (UNICEF, 22 Jun 2017)
With the start of the Southwest monsoon on 25 May 2017, Sri Lanka received heavy rainfall in its southern and western regions, with some parts getting over 500 mm rainfall. Flash floods and landslides caused 214 deaths with 76 people being reported as missing by 22 June 2017. At the height of the emergency, more than 700,000 people were displaced in camps, or staying with host families, or stranded on their own rooftops for days until the floods subsided. Galle, Kalutara, Matara and Ratnapura are the worst-affected districts.
Sri Lanka’s food production hit by extreme drought followed by floods
Rice production to drop by nearly 40 percent in 2017 - assisting farmers is critical to halt growing food insecurity
Extent of education crisis beginning to emerge after floods
The number of Sri Lankans affected by weather-related disasters has hit more than 1.5 million as the nation simultaneously battles crippling drought in the north and east of the island and deadly flooding in the south.
An estimated 630,000 people have been affected by severe floods across seven southern districts, including 75,000 who still cannot return home, while more than one million have been impacted by drought.
The Global Early Warning – Early Action (EWEA) report on food security and agriculture is developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The report is part of FAO’s EWEA system, which aims to translate forecasts and early warnings into anticipatory action.