Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Floods and Landslides Situation Report No. 2 (as of 26 May 2016)

Situation Report
Originally published



  • Tropical Storm Roanu that struck Sri Lanka on 15 May 2016 caused severe flooding and numerous landslides, particularly in the west of the country.

  • According to the Government of Sri Lanka Disaster Management Centre, 301,602 people have been affected by the floods and landslides. 104 people are known to have died and 99 people are still missing.

  • An estimated 21,484 people still displaced as a result of the disaster and are living in camps and temporary accommodation including schools.

  • Estimated 623 houses have been destroyed and 4,414 have been damaged. This figure is likely to increase as more affected areas are assessed.

  • These are reportedly the worst floods in 25 years, with further heavy rains and flooding likely as the monsoon season continues.

Situation Overview

On 15 May 2016 Sri Lanka was hit by a severe tropical storm that caused widespread flooding and landslides in 22 districts out 25 districts in the country, destroying homes and submerging entire villages. At least 104 people are known to have died following this disaster; 99 people are still missing, the majority due to a landslide in Aranayake, Kegalle District, which devastated three villages. An estimated 301,602 people have been affected by this disaster, including at least 21,484 people who remain displaced from their homes. As a result of the floods and landslides, 623 houses have been completely destroyed and 4,414 homes have been damaged; however, given that many affected locations remain underwater and others too dangerous to access due to the possibility of further landslides, it is likely that this number will rise once further assessments have been completed. On 25 May the Government of Sri Lanka estimated that a total of 128,000 houses could have been impacted by the disaster, with 30,000 in need of reconstruction or rehabilitation.

People who remain displaced from their homes are currently living in a variety of safe locations, including temporary camps, schools, religious buildings, community centres, as well as with friends and relatives. Because of the ‘hidden’ nature of this last group of people, it is possible that there are more displaced people than current figures suggest. In the camps and other temporary accommodation, the Government and local organisations are providing cooked food, water and access to healthcare through the establishment of mobile health teams and disease control activities. In schools and religious buildings that are housing displaced people and where there is overcrowding, water and sanitation are key concerns as available facilities are unable to meet current need.

In the majority of flood affected areas, floodwaters are now gradually receding but there is an urgent need for environmental clean-up and waste management activities to prevent the spread of disease. A major clean-up is underway, led by the tri-forces and the civil security departments, with the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine distributing chlorine solution to help people clean their flood-affected homes. However, partners on the ground have noted that many people who have gone back home following the closure of the temporary centres they were staying in, have returned to find their houses still inundated with floodwater and waste.

The Government of Sri Lanka declared a number of disaster affected areas as emergency zones due to the on-going threat of further floods and landslides. As a result people whose houses were located in these places are unable to return and need access to durable shelter solutions especially given the impending monsoon rains.

Colombo is the worst affected District in the country with 190,349 people affected by the floods; this is mostly as a result of large numbers of people living on reclaimed, marsh land that is highly susceptible to flooding. Individuals whose houses were in these areas will not be permitted to return because of the risk of further flooding.

According to Government estimates, 25,000 to 30,000 businesses may have been impacted by the disaster. These are primarily small enterprises such as stores, tuk-tuk drivers and petty traders. There is also therefore a need for early recovery and livelihoods activities, alongside the provision of emergency food support, to support the most vulnerable people who have lost all of their personal and productive assets.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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