Sri Lanka flood victims highly indebted, livelihoods insecure, survey finds

ECONOMYNEXT – Victims of Sri Lanka’s recent floods and landslides had been repeatedly affected by previous natural disasters and were now highly indebted with insecure livelihoods, a survey by the Ministry of Disaster Management has found.

The May 2016 floods and landslide have caused the highest displacements, wide spread damage to productive assets, and losses to livelihoods and agricultural and livestock production, it said in an assessment of Colombo, Gampaha and Kegalle, the worst affected districts.

Over 90% of these populations had been hard-hit by the recurrent natural disasters during last five years, the report said, referring especially to floods in 2013 and 2015.

“The frequent natural disasters in the same regions had undermined household resilience and the affected populations had built up unsustainable levels of debts,” the report said.

“Food security of the affected populations will be challenging due to displacements, lack of livelihood and income sources.”

Almost 321.000 people, more than two third of the total affected population, are living in the Western province and have lost their productive assets and livelihoods, the report said.

The ministry recommends immediate coordinated relief efforts specifically targeting the vulnerable households in Colombo, Gampaha and Kegalle districts “to prevent a further collapse in household resilience.”

The findings were based on an “Initial Rapid Needs Assessment” done by deploying rapid field verification teams in five districts by the Ministry of Disaster Management jointly with the Disaster Management Centre and National Disaster Relief Services Centre.

It was supported by Sri Lanka Red Cross, World Food Programme and Sri Lanka Family Planning Association with additional Child Fund, World Vision and Oxfam support for the exercise in various districts.

The ministry said teams visited all the affected Divisional Secretariat Divisions and camps covering the three districts where more than half of the affected population is reported with field data collected during May 21-22.
(Updated – with survey method)
(COLOMBO, May 30 2016)