Sri Lanka

ACT Appeal Sri Lanka: Rehabilitation of flood affected - ASSL-31

Originally published


Appeal Target: US$ 178,041
Balance Requested from ACT Network: US$ 78,783

Geneva, 15 August 2003

Dear Colleagues,

During May the country usually receives scattered rainfall. This year the rains started on the 16th and on 17 and 18 May there was unusually heavy rainfall causing devastating floods, which severely affected four of Sri Lanka's nine provinces. ACT member the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCC-SL) responded immediately to the floods through their member churches in three regions, initially using their own resources. On 20 May Rapid Response (RRF) Funds for an amount of US$ 48,479 were released to enable the NCCSL to continue the immediate relief assistance. The activities under the crisis phase have already been implemented.

The initial proposal received from NCCSL was based on an assessment carried out by NCC-SL and its member churches with support from ACT member Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA). As most of those seriously affected by the floods and landslides are poor people, the task should go beyond "restoring normalcy" and be geared towards alleviating poverty. Therefore, NCCSL prepared a proposal dealing with mid-term and long-term rehabilitation needs. However, for this appeal NCCSL agreed with the ACT CO to concentrate on the mid-term activities covering a period of twelve months. In discussions between NCCSL and the ACT Co-ordinating Office about the contents of the proposal, NCC indicated that once clear indications of funding were received, the first task would be to prepare a more detailed action plan in accordance with the priorities set. Concerns were also expressed about the high budget and the capacity of NCCSL and its members to implement such a large scale programme. In consultation with ACT Member Christian Aid these concerns were further discussed with NCCSL and a revised proposal was prepared which is the basis of this appeal. The appeal includes the initial relief assistance provided under the crisis phase.

The post crisis phase focuses on assistance towards the repair and reconstruction of houses, restoration of livelihood and the formation and strengthening of Community Based Organisations.

Project Completion Date: 31 August 2004

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested

ACT Co-ordination
Total Target US$
Total Appeal Targets
Less: Pledges/Contr. Recd.
Balance Requested from ACT Network

Note: An additional amount for ACT Co-ordination has been included in the appeal to allow follow up by the ACT Co-ordinating Office with NCCSL and its member churches.

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:

Account Number -- 240-432629.60A (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
PO Box 2600
1211 Geneva 2

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind co-operation.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, Thor-Arne Prois (phone +41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone + 41 79 203 6055)
ACT Appeals Officer, Mieke Weeda (phone +41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone +41 79 285 2916)
ACT Web Site address:

John Nduna
Acting Director, ACT


National Christian Council of Sri Lanka(NCC/SL)


The membership of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), consists of the following Church Denominations and Institutions. Each of them has their own churches and branches.

Member Churches: -

Church of Ceylon -- Diocese of Colombo
Church of Ceylon -- Diocese of Kurunegala
Methodist Church of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Baptist Sangamaya
Church of South India (CSI)
Dutch Reformed Church (DRC)
The Salvation Army
The Presbytery of Lanka

Member Institutions: -

Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)
Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA)
Ceylon Bible Society (CBS)
Christian Literature Society (CLS)
Student Christian Movement (SCM)

The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka has been in existence for about forty-five years and promotes joint action in many areas of the life and witness of the churches. The Programmes of Peace & Reconciliation, Relief & Rehabilitation, Christian Education, Communication, etc. are some concerns where NCCSL generally co-ordinates the activities on behalf of all her members. However, the members are also free to initiate activities on their own. The churches and institutions belonging to the members of NCCSL are spread throughout the island, consisting both Singhalese and Tamil congregations, which gives added impetus to their work and greatly enhances project implementation.

Since 1983 NCCSL has been systematically involved in relief and rehabilitation work in all affected areas in the country, both in human made and natural disasters. It has a separate unit to implement and monitor such work, and has served all communities in Sri Lanka. It is also recognised by the State as an approved organisation to work in the "un-cleared" areas (i.e., those areas under the control of the LTTE).



During the Vesak season Vesak season covers about a week, which includes two state declared holidays, i.e., the Vesak Day, and the day following that. Vesak is the full moon day in the month of May, on which the Buddhists commemorate birth, death and the enlightenment of lord Buddha. Most of the Buddhists return to their own villages to celebrate this festival., the country usually receives scattered rainfall. This year it began on 16 and 17 May. On 17 and 18 there was unusually heavy island wide rainfall. A continuous torrential rainfall caused ferocious floods in most parts of Sri Lanka. Four of Sri Lanka's nine Provinces were severely affected. The worst hit districts were Nuwara Eliya in the Central Province, Kalutara in the Western Province, Ratnapura of Sabaragamuwa Province, Hambantota, Galle and Matara of the Southern Province. The three major rivers (ganga), which run through these, namely, Kaluganga, Nilwalaganga, and Walaweganga breached their banks. Flooding in these districts lasted at least two days and some villages remained under water for three weeks.

Many humanitarian organisations both local and international, responded quickly to provide immediate relief assistance to the flood victims. There were many local media agencies, which also mobilised support for the flood victims. The LTTE too mobilised support from the Tamils in the north and sent lorry loads of relief items to the flood victims, most of whom are Singhalese. The government instructed the Government agents in the flood affected regions and other local authorities (such as Grama Niladari also known as Grama Sevaka, i.e., the village head, the Samurdi officers i.e., the government appointed development workers etc) that assistance be directed to those areas in need. In spite of all these efforts and arrangements, there were serious lapses in the distribution of relief items. Some villages in need of assistance received hardly anything while some -- especially those near the main roads, received more than ample assistance. Some villages were inaccessible and supplies had to be dropped from helicopters.

NCCSL 'Crisis Phase' Response

On 19 May the NCCSL General Secretary visited Galle Archdeaconry and met a group of clergymen and the archdeacon there to discuss the flood situation in Galle and nearby districts. In the mean time NCCSL received several requests from member churches for immediate relief assistance. NCCSL supported some of these requests by releasing funds to four member churches; the Anglican Church of Ceylon (Colombo Diocese head office and the Galle Archdeaconry), the Methodist Church (Colombo headquarters and Baluthsinhala Church in Galle), the Salvation Army and the Dutch Reformed Church for work in Ratnapura, Galle and Matara.

On 20 May a special committee - Relief and Rehabilitation Co-ordination Committee (RRCC) was formed at NCCSL by the General Secretary to muster support from three NCCSL departments. Three teams were then formed headed by three RRCC members and they were dispatched to Nivitigala (Ratnapura District), Deniyaya and Hinithuma Divisions of Galle District. They met with church based units (ChBU) and the local government authorities. The overall co-ordination of relief assistance by various agencies was the responsibility of government officials. The Government Agent and Provincial Council members in the respective divisions directed NCCSL project staff to 11 badly affected villages, mostly in remote areas, that had not received assistance, which were thereafter targeted for action:

a) Nivitigala (Ratnapura District)


b) Deniyaya (Galle District)

Beverly Estate

c) Hiniduma (Galle District)

Hiniduma North
Hiniduma West

The government began to supply dry rations in many areas affected by floods, but in the areas above, served by NCCSL, government assistance was slow to arrive. Since NCCSL had no previous experience in responding to needs of such magnitude, they took advantage of their regional partnership by requesting CASA to guide the RRCC in the rehabilitation planning. CASA consequently sent a representative to NCCSL in Colombo on 24 May for a period of five days. He visited a flooded village in Galle, gave guidance to the RRCC as to the areas needing relief and rehabilitation and also guided the RRCC through their proposal.

ACT Rapid Response Funds enabled NCCSL to support both NCCSL and the four member churches mentioned above, to engage in relief work.

At the very initial stages, NCCSL provided drinking water to 3 villages and immediate food relief was provided to 1,100 families. This comprised mostly of dhal, sugar, tea, tinned fish, soap, milk powder (for use in tea) and flour, to the worth of Rs. 609.00 per family in selected villages in the Nivitigala, Hinithuma and Deniyaya regions, where no assistance had been received. Cooking utensils and cutlery were provided by NCCSL to about 500 families in the three regions.

Discussions with beneficiaries on their immediate needs led NCCSL to respond accordingly by providing items such as basic medicines and sanitary towels. NCCSL donated medicines to doctors working in an IDP camp in Ratnapura (where about 200 families are living in makeshift huts), and provided sanitary items for women and local balm and panadol cards for families in all the three regions.

NCCSL also provided tin sheets, plastic sheets, and cement and tar sheets to about 600 of those who returned to their damaged homes.

Schooling needs too were met by NCCSL using ACT funds, by providing school uniforms, undergarments, exercise books and textbooks, to all the school going children of the 1,100 families in 11 villages in the three regions. And for four selected schools in Nivitigala, funds from the Stromme Foundation was used to provide students' schooling needs and to repair the school buildings.

The NCCSL organized a three-day training for the village leaders from the three regions, to train them on the various aspects of data collection.

Food relief was provided directly by four member churches mentioned above to about 2,000 families in about 20 villages, through funds released by NCCSL from ACT. Cooking utensils were provided to about 1,000 families. Operating areas for the member churches were defined according to their presence on the ground, and their assessments of the most urgent needs. The activities were similar to those undertaken by NCCSL, but not in the same villages covered by NCCSL above. The four member churches likewise provided relief assistance in the immediate surroundings.

Member churches co-ordinated directly with government officials and provided dry rations, temporary shelter, clothes, cooking utensils and materials for minor repairs to sanitation facilities. The Dutch Reformed Church purchased a water pump from the funds NCCSL released to clean and chlorinate wells. They, along with the PHI (Public Health Inspector) of Matara District, purified wells in four villages in Matara, namely, Sultanagoda, Hunalla, Kurunduwatte and Akurugoda, covering 103 wells.

Current Situation

Relief supplies from many corners have reached most of the affected people. However, sustainable rehabilitation programs have not been forthcoming. According to the Social Services Department on 2 June, across the whole affected area, the floods had affected a total of about 140,000 families, with 235 people confirmed dead and 19 people missing. 30,000 houses have suffered damages, while 500 houses have been totally destroyed. 260 'areas' have been labelled as insecure and the Peradeniya University is currently engaged in research in those areas to decide on the level of insecurity. Based on their recommendations the government has decided to provide alternative land for those areas that are labelled as very highly insecure areas.

Almost all the main roads passing through the flood-affected areas have developed deep crevices. In regions hit by landslides, parts of the roads are still covered with thick mud. Some hillside roads have become totally unsafe due to erosion.

Since almost all the rivers and the wells were flooded, access to safe drinking water remained a problem for more than two weeks after the flooding. But many wells were de-silted, and purified. Germany donated three water purification machines and supplied the experts to handle them, but there remains a need for continuous health and sanitary care.

Loss of livelihood is a looming problem as many estate workers could permanently lose their jobs since many of the tea plants have been destroyed. Most of the farmers are also affected since their crops and fertile top soil in their fields were totally washed out and some have lost their buffaloes -- used as draught power. Craftsmen have either lost their tools or they are damaged. Mineworkers have been left without any means as the mines have closed due to inundation of mud and their equipment has either been lost or damaged. There is a serious need for restoration of livelihood.

Following immediate relief, NCCSL has prioritised the repair of houses and the rebuilding of the destroyed houses belonging to the poor and the marginalized.

There are both Singhalese and Tamils in many of the affected villages. However, media reports that there has been considerable discrimination exercised in relief work. Most of the plantation workers, who are Tamils, were seemingly neglected in the government relief supplies. Thus, there is a necessity to sensitise the affected people on peace concepts.

The objectives and activities of the programme are divided into a 'crisis phase' (immediate relief), already been implemented with the use of ACT Rapid Response Funds, and a 'post-crisis phase' (rehabilitation) which will be implemented during the period 1 September 2003 to 31 August 2004. NCCSL intends to provide further community-development, peace-building and disaster preparedness planning assistance at a later date, but these are not covered by the current proposal.

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