Flooding Affects Nearly One Million in Sri Lanka
January 13, 2011—Nearly a million people have been affected by severe flooding in Sri Lanka since a monsoon began to pelt the island nation on December 26. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which has a program office in the hardest hit area, Batticaloa, is preparing to respond.
About 967,000 people have been affected, including nearly 200,000 who have been displaced from their homes, says the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Most of them—93 percent—are located in three districts: Ampara, Batticaloa, and Trincomalee, in the east.
UMCOR has had a program office in Batticaloa since 2004 and currently is running a livelihoods program in 16 villages of the district. All of the villages have been flooded, and some 2,500 families have been displaced. Batticaloa has not seen this much rainfall in a century.
The monsoon is causing severe damage. It has provoked mudslides as well as floods. It has washed away 200 reservoirs and submerged main roads. The 52,283 families that have been displaced by flooding are waiting out the emergency in 493 temporary relocation centers.
Earlier last fall, unusually heavy rains fell in northern Sri Lanka, affecting the Jaffna and Mullaitivu districts. UMCOR provided aid to stem the outbreak of mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue which thrive in these conditions.
As of January 12, the rain is still falling in eastern Sri Lanka, threatening further damage and destruction. Already, 18 people have died in the disaster and another 44 have been injured.