Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Drought (MDRLK004) - Final Report

Situation Report
Originally published
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Period covered by this Final Report: 2 November 2012 to 9 April 2013

Appeal target (current): CHF 184,357

Appeal coverage: 99 per cent

Appeal history:

· This Emergency Appeal was initially launched on 2 November 2012 for CHF 1,070,504 for 18 months to assist 20,000 drought affected families (125,000 people).

· CHF 145,336 was initially allocated from the Federation’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) in responding by delivering assistance.

· An Operations update no 1 was issued on 19 December 2012.

· A Revised Emergency Appeal was issued on 4 April 2013 to make changes to the operation budget (from CHF 1,070,504 to CHF 186,642) and operation timeframe (from 18 months to slightly over 5 months). The timeframe was reduced largely due to the lack of interest from international donors resulting in the need to revise the livelihood’s targets and activities.

· SLRCS utilised its own emergency funds and limited resources raise from multilateral and bilateral in-country partners to effectively response to immediate needs of the worst affected.


Through the drought operations, SLRCS mainly focused to assist the most vulnerable people who were recurrently affected by extreme weather patterns due to climate change affects. SLRCS utilised its own emergency funds to support tracking of safe water to the worst affected villages, while the IFRC DREF allocation was spent to procure and distribute water containers in the affected areas to help people harvest and store water in anticipation of rains later in the year.

Immediate recovery needs prioritised by SLRCS with consideration of its perception of the gaps, its capacities, resources it had managed to raise and its mandate included;

a) To provide livelihood cash grant to the worst affected farmers in rural remote areas

b) To improve water storage capacity in the worst affected areas

c) To launch dengue prevention and hygiene promotion campaigns in high risk areas during the peak season

d) To support rehabilitation of minor irrigation systems (irrigation water supply) falling outside of the government supported large-scale infrastructure programmes;

Due to scare resources SLRCS had to minimise its operations. Livelihood cash was provided only to 1,363 families out of the 6,650 targeted families. Beneficiary selection was done based on scoring system developed by SLRCS. Priority was given to following; female headed families, families with differently abled and elderly members, and the highest percentage of damaged crop with no alternative income. Each family was provided with LKR 10,000 (approx. CHF 74) as a conditional grant to be used for activities to restore livelihoods (land preparation, farm inputs, replace small livestock and livelihood assets). The families we could not help are still struggling. Some had to leave their families in search of labour job; others rely on support from relatives and communities.

A total of 5,000 families (25,000 people) and 100,000 children in 280 schools were supported with the provision of water tanks and containers, which enable them to have safer water storing facilities. During the most critical months of the disaster preceding the appeal launch, SLRCS had distributed safe drinking water to 5,500 families in four districts. SLRCS branches procured and distributed water from various sources from within the districts to the worst affected villages. SLRCS has reached 12,500 people through its dengue prevention and hygiene promotion activities such as distribution of information and education materials, and consultations by health authorities through community awareness sessions.

In the later part of the year, rain arrived certainly relieving the drought conditions in many parts of the country. At the same time rain has intensified the vulnerability of many poor living in the country’s hardest hit regions due to flooding and earth slips. The extreme weather conditions standard more than 447,000 people and displaced close to 50,000, according to the government’s Disaster Management Centre (DMC). During the second week of January 2013, 45 people had been killed and eight were listed as missing. The same regions were hit by Cyclone Nisha flooding in early November 2012 that left around 200,000 people stranded and killed seven, destroyed 300 houses and damaged 4,700 more units.

In response to heavy rains and flooding, SLRCS mobilized Branch Disaster Response Team (BDRT) members, and its trained volunteers to evacuate the stranded, to provide first aid and emergency relief. SLRCS estimates it reached out to 45,000 people directly and 150,000 people indirectly through its floods response action. SLRCS volunteers in Puttalam, Kurunegala, Hambantota and Polonnaruwa were also engaged in cleaning hospital areas and contaminated wells.

Meanwhile, the flooding in November and December 2012 tested SLRCS preparedness efforts over the last two years and confirmed these efforts to lessen death and alleviate the suffering of the affected population have worked well. The disaster also presented an opportunity to critically review the SLRCS disaster preparedness and response framework, which has been under development with IFRC support since 2010, and the flood contingency plan, also developed with the IFRC support in 2011. The recently conducted floods response simulation exercises (at national and district levels) have also proved vital to sharpen mobilization and coordination processes within the SLRCS. The success has encouraged the SLRCS and strengthened its commitment to investing into disaster preparedness.

At the same time, more must be done to strengthen the SLRCS mitigation efforts and warning systems, as well as prepare residents to face increasingly volatile weather. SLRCS priorities now include spreading awareness of the climate change the evidence of which is stronger than ever, and supporting the development of concrete climate adaptation activities. These activities will be implemented by SLRCS within the existing context of disaster risk reduction programmes integrated in the IFRC Long-Term Programme Framework (LTPF).

Lessons learned:

· Drought is slow on-set disaster, where it attracts less attention. Further inadequate and lack early information hinder the vulnerability of people affected. These factors delayed declaration of disaster and therefore in is crucial to take measures to mobilized resources to improve seasonal forecasting.

· SLRCS has real strength in effective emergency operation on rapid onset disasters following years of experience of seasonal floods and the Tsunami of 2004. And SLRCS is one of the only organizations with a network presence in all areas of the country. SLRCS has to improve its capacity on slow on set disaster operations.

· Compared to other countries, Sri Lanka faced an acquitted water shortage with the onset of next monsoon conditions would change. Therefore should focus more on realistic forecasting in future programmes.

Of the total income, a total of CHF 184,245 has been spent. The balance of CHF 112 will be returned to the DREF pot. This final narrative report is issued with the final financial report.

The main donors for this Emergency Appeal are the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Red Cross of Monaco.