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Flooding in Sri Lanka

 
 

BATTICALOA, SRI LANKA - Unprecedented monsoon rains in Sri Lanka have caused severe flooding, affecting more than 1 million people and displacing 360,000 into temporary shelters.

To assist children and families in Sri Lanka, please consider a donation to the ChildAlert Emergency Fund.

The eastern region of Batticaloa, the region hardest hit, saw the heaviest rainfall in more than 100 years. More than 530,000 people have lost either their homes or livestock or both. Irrigation tanks have been completely breached or washed away. Acres of paddy cultivation have been destroyed. Many drinking wells are now polluted and contaminated. Schools have been closed and roads and bridges washed out. Hospitals, government offices and shops have been unable to function, and most homes are cut off from electricity supply.

“I was frightened to see the water level rising in my house,” says 8-year-old Prashanthan, from Kothiyapulai village. “Water was also coming through from the roof. I took my sister and ran to the school. I saw our belongings being swept away by the water current.”

The people of Batticaloa have been through a lot in recent years, including the 2004 South Asian tsunami as well as political unrest and conflict. Thanaraj, a young mother in Kanjalankuda village, says, “When the floods came, I thought it was another tsunami. There was a lot of panic, and people thought they were going to die. People made their way to the school, which is on elevated ground. The water rose up to neck level.”

Even in the school, says Thanaraj, conditions were bad. “We slept on the floor. Toilets were dirty and overflowing. Breastfeeding mothers had no space to nurse their babies, and there was no space for children to play. Some children had fever and diarrhea.”

 

I was frightened to see the water level rising in my house.
  
 - Prashanthan, 8-year-old from Kothiyapulai village 

The rains have since subsided and the flooding receded, and most people in relief camps have returned to their homes. Now communities are realizing the full extent of the damage. Children and families have told ChildFund staff that they desperately need food, water, mosquito nets, bed sheets, clothes, soap, toothpaste and materials to rebuild their homes.

 

Thanaraj says, “We usually use fire wood for cooking meals. But everything is wet. We need heating oil.”

Suhashini is a distraught mother of four. “Our crops have been damaged and most of our goats have died,” she says. “They were our livelihood. Now there is nothing left. The walls of my house have collapsed. The road to our village is so bad that it is difficult to bring relief here. I’m worried we will be cut off and we will be forgotten.”

Guru Naik, ChildFund’s country director in Sri Lanka, calls the crisis one of the worst natural disasters to hit Sri Lanka since the 2004 tsunami. “Families have lost their livelihoods and are desperately in need of help. There is an urgent need for food and water as well as non-food relief items,” he says.

ChildFund is providing emergency relief to children and families in the districts of Batticaloa and Trincomalee. Families are receiving dry rations, milk packets and bedding.

Meanwhile, ChildFund is also raising funds to provide educational, nutritional and livelihoods support and to ensure a protective environment for children. These will be key to children’s and families’ ability to restore their well-being.

To assist children and families in Sri Lanka, please consider a donation to the ChildAlert Emergency Fund.

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