Sri Lanka

Disaster Risk Reduction in Sri Lanka, Status Report (July 2019)

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Introduction

The island of Sri Lanka is located in the Indian Ocean, separated from the subcontinent of India by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The country is also relatively small, covering a total land area of 65,610 km2 . Nevertheless, the island still encompasses a variety of ecological zones from tropical forests, highlands and lowland plains to diverse coastal belts (CFE-DM, 2017). Most of the country consists of lower plains with the elevation between 30 to 200 meters.

In terms of administration, Sri Lanka consists of nine provinces, which are further divided into 25 districts. The governance of districts consists of 331 Divisional Secretariats, under which 14,022 Grama Niladhari, or village officers, operate to carry out administrative duties at lowest levels of administration. Juridical and executive powers over the nation are exercised by the multi-party Parliament and the president, both of which are elected by people’s vote.

Sri Lanka is affected by various hazards, including weather related events such as cyclones, monsoonal rain, and subsequent flooding and landslides (Ministry of Disaster Management, 2019). Droughts are also common due to variations in the monsoons followed by lightning strikes, coastal erosion, epidemics and pollution. Of these, localized and seasonal flooding are forming the greatest threat to the populations, and the flood risk profile is rising due to the expected increase in the impact and frequency of hydrometeorological hazards (GFDRR, 2017). Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 highlighted Sri Lanka’s vulnerability to infrequent, high-impact events as well (Ministry of Disaster Management, 2019).

The rapid growth of tourism and industry have contributed to the growth of the GDP since 2009, and it has increased at an average rate of 5.8% despite some slowdown during the past few years (The World Bank, 2019). However, inequality in wealth distribution has increased despite the decline in poverty; the richest quintile had 53.3% of the total household income, while 80% population shared the rest (ADB, 2015).