21/01/2013 – Kurunegala, Sri Lanka: The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) supported by the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has taken steps to assist 20,000 families in 7 districts that faced a severe drought situation during 2012 in rural Sri Lanka. The major intervention is to provide 10,000 rupee livelihood grant to 1,400 families. In the initial step, 200 families in Kurunegala District received this cash grant at a ceremony held at the SLRCS Kurunegala branch premises.
The event was graced by the Minister of Consumer Affairs Johnston Fernando, along with the Director General of SLRCS Tissa Abeywickrama, Head of Delegation of IFRC Bob McKerrow, Chairman of the Kurunegala Branch of SLRCS A. M. B. Abeyrathne and the Branch Executive Officer Mrs. W. Priyadharshani along with other distinguished guests.
“This is part of our continued commitment in helping the most vulnerable. The drought was not something that caught the attention of many as this was shadowed by the floods that hit in latter and early parts of 2012/13,” says Tissa Abeywickrama, Director General of SLRCS.
“These people, who faced the drought in early 2012 and was in a very vulnerable condition, got battered by the floods again in the latter part of last year. So we haven’t forgotten these people. We want to support them in order to make a comeback to their normal lives”
While addressing the gathering the Minister of Consumer Affairs Jonston Fernando thanked the Red Cross for taking the initiative to aid people, who in most instances have been forgotten. He also commended the Red Cross for its 7 decades of humanitarian service to the country.
In July 2012, SLRCS undertook a field mission to review the conditions during the early stages of the onset of the drought in the affected areas in Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Monaragala, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Hambantota, and Mannar districts. SLRCS identified that many remote and rural areas were already lacking access to safe drinking water and that the situation was worsening.
Thus, SLRCS released LKR 400,000 (approximately CHF 2,875) in emergency funds from SLRCS’s DREF to support four SLRCS branches in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Monaragala and Kurunegala districts to start distribution of safe drinking water. SLRCS branches procured and delivered water from various sources from within the districts to the worst affected villages.
In this backdrop people from 7 districts were selected to be given support that totaled to around 20 million rupees. Areas of support included providing of safe drinking water, provision of water tanks, provision of water tanks to schools, and livelihood support.