Sri Lanka has experienced its worst flooding in 25 years after it was hit by Cyclone Roanu on 15th May, leaving more than 100 people dead and affecting 300,000 others. Up to 21,000 people have been displaced to temporary accommodation. Handicap International has joined forces with the government and other humanitarian organisations to assess the situation and identify the needs of those affected.
“In urban districts, such as Colombo, the capital, the water is stagnating and the waste is piling up. We’re afraid there’s going to be a dengue epidemic. Our priority is to make sure those affected have access to food, drinking water and hygiene services,” explains Matteo Caprotti, director of Handicap International’s operations in Sri Lanka.
Flooding caused extensive damage to houses and farmland in rural districts. Thousands are living in temporary shelters.
“We still don’t know exactly how much damage has been done, but we need to make sure people have enough food and can find ways to earn a livelihood. Some farmers have lost all of their clove trees, rice fields and tea plantations – hectares and hectares of farmland. It’s going to take ten years or so to get the plantations back to normal. It’s a real disaster for them,” he explains.
Following the assessment, Handicap International is planning to work with the World Food Programme (WFP) to ensure the most vulnerable individuals affected by the disaster can access food. This response will be implemented in four of the country’s worst-affected districts: Colombo, Kegalle, Ratnapura and Gampaha.
We are also planning to work with partner organisations in rural areas. This will make sure people are able to access food and get farms up and running again. Another priority over the coming months will be to rebuild homes and damaged infrastructure, such as schools and health centres.