Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: After the floods the work continues

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News and Press Release
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Sewalanka Foundation continues to rebuild lives affected by the May 2003 monsoon rains in Southern Sri Lankan; that left over 100 people dead and approximately 175,000 people destitute.
At the time of the floods, Sewalanka Foundation with the support of the Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi and working alongside the army, school children and other community members, mobilised quickly to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by the floods and landslides. Overall, 7,340 families directly benefited from Sewalanka's dry ration packages delivered to the most isolated communities in Ratnapura and Matara. The national and international media also garnished much needed support and were vital in ensuring that emergency relief was provided.

However, over one year has passed and the public's interest in the long-term effects of the floods and landslides has diminished. This is particularly sad as the community and surrounding environment continue to be adversely affected by inadequate primary health care services, water systems, education, housing, infrastructure and opportunities to earn an income.

As a result, Sewalanka started work in June 2004 with the Japanese Government through their Sri Lankan Embassy on the Restoration of Basic Facilities affected by Floods/Landslides in Matara Project. The project aims to restore basic services to those affected by this natural disaster and includes:

  • Pre-school cum community centre construction, primary school renovation including a library, laboratory, teachers quarters and toilet facilities, and repairing a foot bridge in Mederipitiya

  • Reconstruction of Kiriwalagama's crossway bridge

  • Reconstruction of Kriweldola's vehicular bridge

  • Reconstruction of Weligepitiyawatta and Aluthgedara's suspension bridges
A community approach

The community has reacted well to Restoration of Basic Facilities affected by Floods/Landslides in Matara Project as it is providing much needed basic infrastructure and as Sewalanka has an established level of trust due to the humanitarian relief provided immediately after the disaster.

Sewalanka continues to build upon this trust by working with the community in a participatory manner. The project coordinator has selected four village leaders, whose main tasks so far has been to organise community meetings, coordinate project officers and technical officers, and network with other key stakeholders.

The community leaders and Sewalanka organised three meetings with each of the target villages to raise awareness about the project and seek community input in the implementation plan. The meetings were attended by over 400 community members from the local community and private and government sectors. The main feedback provided was to construct the bridges over the Gin-Ganga River before the rainy season in October and November starts.

Each village has adopted a different approach to provide labour contributions to the project. The Kiriwalagama (Crossways Bridge) community has formed five labour groups each incorporating 15 to 25 members who take it in turns to share their labour with site construction work. This community has also contributed more than one thousand human labour hours demonstrating their great support and dedication to the project.

Sewalanka Foundation aims to have the project completed by March 2005. For further information please contact Mr. Ajith Teenakoon, Sewalanka's Sinharaja Projects Coordinator at Head Office on +94 011) 254 5362 - 5 or sewahq@sri.lanka.net