CARE is currently responding to the series of floods which have occurred across Sri Lanka over the past weeks. Heavy rainfall began around the 18th of December in several districts of the country, causing floods and landslides which have affected an estimated 380’000 people and damaged over 31’000 homes. For the affected regions in eastern and northern Sri Lanka this latest crisis has meant a grim end to an already difficult year: a ten-month drought began in February and lasted through much of 2012, and in early November Cyclone Nisha displaced almost 20’000 people.
“Water levels have now begun to recede, and the situation is improving in many districts,” said Gregory Brady, CARE Sri Lanka’s Country Director. “Although about 750 people are still in emergency shelters, many others have already been able to leave evacuation sites and return to their homes. However, we expect more rain in the next few weeks.”
Children without school materials
The recent floods and landslides have also disrupted education and agriculture in the affected regions. More than 60 schools were turned into temporary evacuation shelters for those displaced by the damage. Although most of the buildings have now been re-opened as schools, many children in the worst-affected areas have not yet been able to replace the destroyed uniforms, shoes, books and other supplies that they need to go back to school. Damage to local agriculture has not been fully assessed yet, but the government estimates that over 60’000 hectares of paddy fields have been destroyed along with many livestock farms.
CARE distributes basic relief items, tarpaulins and food
In the short term, affected families need household items such as cooking sets, lamps, candles, and sleeping mats; and health items such as mosquito nets, soap and sanitary items. There is also a significant risk that the flooding could lead to outbreaks of diseases due to unsafe drinking water and mosquito plagues if proper preventative steps are not taken. Wells for example will need to be cleaned in order to ensure a safe water supply.
CARE has worked in Sri Lanka since 1950, and was able to respond on the ground during the most critical phase of the flooding, providing support to vulnerable groups in the worst-affected district of Batticaloa. In the neighbouring district of Polonnaruwa, where over 10’000 people were affected, CARE was the only international aid organization with an office in the district and so was able to distribute relief items quickly. CARE has so far reached about 500 families with emergency food supplies, basic relief items, or tarpaulins. Over the next two weeks, CARE will distribute a further 1500 emergency food packs and 800 sets of emergency supplies.
About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Working side by side with poor people in 70 countries, CARE helps empower communities to address the greatest threats to their survival. Women are at the heart of CARE’s efforts to improve health, education and economic development because experience shows that a woman’s achievements yield dramatic benefits for her entire family. CARE is also committed to providing lifesaving assistance during times of crisis, and helping rebuild safer, stronger communities afterward. We advocate for policies that defend the dignity of all people and promote the eradication of poverty. CARE has worked in Sri Lanka since 1950. For more information about CARE's recent work in Sri Lanka, click here.