Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Floods and landslides - Emergency Plan of Action Operation Update n° MDRLK006



Description of the disaster

In May 2017, the activation of South-West Monsoon weather conditions caused heavy rainfalls in the South-Eastern parts of the island. This triggered a major flood and landslide situation in the country, affecting thousands of lives, livelihoods and damages to properties. Disaster Management Centre (DMC) confirmed that 15 districts were affected due the heavy rains, strong winds and landslides. Matara, Kalutara, Galle, Ratnapura, Gampaha and Colombo are amongst the severely affected districts.

Intensity of the floods increased due to release of water from small and medium reservoirs, which rose the water levels of rivers and water streams and caused heavy influx of flash floods. Reaching the affected people were difficult due to the prevailing high-water levels and landslides in access roads. Power cuts in highly affected areas caused limited telecommunication access to affected people and relief workers as well. Roads (including the national highways) were inundated in many places causing heavy traffic congestions across the affected areas, destructing the transportation of goods and services.

According to DMC, as of second week of June 2017, at least 658,490 people (153,852 families) were affected, 213 people died, 79 people were missing, 150 were injured by floods and landslide. A total of 185 camps were established with about 4,736 families sheltered temporarily. At least 2,788 houses were fully destroyed, and 18,417 houses were partially damaged by the disaster. The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) declared a ‘state of natural disaster situation’ and appealed internationally to support the response and rehabilitation efforts.

Summary of current response

Overview of Host National Society

Since the onset of the floods, SLRCS was in the forefront providing assistance to the affected people. As the situation unfolded, SLRCS branches activated their branch disaster response teams (BDRTs) which supported the operations since 25 May 2017. Three National Disaster Response Team (NDRT) members were deployed to branches. Furthermore, branch volunteers were involved in conducting both 24-hour and 72-hour assessments, distribution of nonfood items (NRI), dry food and dry rations, search and rescue operations, provision of first aid, and coordination meetings with the GoSL, DMC and international non-government organizations (INGO’s).

The following activities were conducted in the initial relief phase; first aid services, medical camps, well disinfection, hygiene promotion, house cleaning, distribution of non-food items (NFI), and Restoring Family Links (RFL).

After the initial relief phase, the focus of activities moved to early recovery/recovery phase, in the four most affected districts (Kalutara, Ratnapura, Galle and Matara). The areas in Gampaha and Colombo being affected to a lesser degree, people have returned to normal living situation.

Under the early recovery/recovery plan, the following activities were conducted: unconditional cash grant of LKR 10,000 (CHF 69) was provided to 800 people and LKR 50,000 (CHF 345) was provided to assist 400 families to assist with their livelihood. In addition, in order to enhance National Societies preparedness, trainings were conducted for volunteers and staff.

A Shelter Coordination team composed of three staff (coordinator, Information Management (IM) and national staff IM coordinator) was deployed until 30 November 2017. The team provided coordination services in support of the Sri Lanka government for the shelter sector and assessed the local context for defining an adequate sectoral response.

A number of surge personnel were deployed to support the operation. As such, a FACT Cash Transfer Programming (CTP) delegate from British Red Cross was deployed for a one-month period, a RDRT Operations Surge Support from New Zealand Red Cross was deployed for three months and a Senior Officer was deployed by the Delhi IFRC Country Cluster Support Team (CCST) for three weeks.

Upon successful completion of the planned activities while funding remained, mainly due to savings made because of exchange fluctuations (rupee depreciation) in the country, the operational timeframe was first extended until 31 July 2018 and later until 31 December 2018. This latest timeframe revision will ensure the operation focuses on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aspects as well as National Society capacity building.