Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Drought continues despite scattered showers in the south

Originally published
The people of Sri Lanka's south have finally had enough rain to wet the parched land. But the people still stand by the roadside waiting for the World Vision Bowser to come to their villagers - especially in Thanamalvilla and Sevanagala.
Sri Lanka is vulnerable to long-standing drought and an increase in drought is assumed.

Climate changes and pollution have affected water resources but measuring the impact could be difficult. Although the rainfall may increase there can also be an extreme situation where much of the water may be lost through the paddy cultivation, which is easily prone to flooding, saline intrusion, and iron toxicity.

Strategies such as better use of rain water, growing crops that require less water, planting hillsides and reforestation will be introduced. The forest cover in Sri Lanka has shrunk to a critical level and is only about one fourth of the country area.

Poverty has been found to be the cause of bad land use and degradation, soil erosion and the shortage of water. Those who have studied the situation over the years recommend sustainable use of natural resources for alleviation.

World Vision have been able to assist the people of Monaragla and Hambantota districts in the dry zone of the south of Sri Lanka by constructing rain water harvest tanks in order to store the rain water for garden cultivation. Also, World Vision has assisted the communities in reconstructing irrigation tanks in the area through food-for-work programs. These would be considered the major tasks accomplished for the people through World Vision funds. Apart from these, tube wells were made for people who had to walk for nearly 2km 5-6 times a day to get water. Distribution of drinking water is still been carried out.

People like Sirisena (42) who have taken bank loans to cultivate paddy in the season have no place to turn to as his crops were a failure due to the unpredictable weather conditions. Every season of seeding is a risk period for a cultivator, and what would be better? To have taken a risk and fail or never take a risk for a people who's staple meal is rice? The future water conditions are bleak for the Southerners in Sri Lanka as a relapse of even worse conditions can be expected. But the people know that World Vision will always befriend them during a crisis says Premadasa (45) a father of nine children whom I met at a food distribution centre during my visit.