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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The recent flood disaster has caused families in the East to re-build their livelihoods again from the scratch – Sri Ranga MP

With the flood waters fast receding in the affected areas in the Eastern province and people in large numbers are returning to their homes from the temporary welfare centers, a monumental task lies ahead in the aftermath of the worst flood disaster, said MP Sri Ranga at the Good Morning Sri Lanka program of the Shakthi TV on 17th Jan 2011.

He visited the flood affected areas in the East, especially the Batticaloa and Amapara districts on Thaipongal day (16th January 2011) to show his solidarity with the relief efforts and create a focus on the next cause of actions to help the affected people.

He indicated that though the magnitude of destructions and loss of lives caused by the recent floods are less than that of the boxing-day Tsunami in 2004, the other effects in relation to the trauma and dislocation of life are the same, and the potential health hazards are even worse.

According to him, the short-term relief efforts are currently on going with active participation of Government and non-government organisations, donors, mosques, churches, etc but warned that there are critical tasks ahead in respect of the implementation of the long-term action plans to bring these communities back on-track. The same communities have been affected adversely in the last 30 years due to various natural disasters and wars. Now after the current floods it is heartbreaking to note that these people seem to be starting again from the scratch or ‘Zero’ level.

He further said, looking at the larger picture, his initial assessment is that the critical tasks (both medium and long-term tasks) at hand included, but not limited to the following:

·     Re-construction and/or maintenance of approximately 6,000 and 5,000 fully or partially damaged houses in Batticaloa and Ampara districts, respectively including replacing furniture, household items and important documents/certificates which have been washed away. This numbers are only initial estimates and likely to increase.
·    Control and prevention of the spreading of common communal and waterborne diseases like eye infections, diarrhea, malaria and dengue fever due to water logging, poor living conditions and contaminated water
·    Recovering financial losses and re-building of the livelihoods of the people and sources of earnings (agricultural, farming, and other businesses) to a satisfactory level within a shorter period
·    Repairing and/or reconstruction of school buildings and facilities as well as re-integration of students back into the schools as majority of students have lost their learning materials (books, notes, past-papers etc) and school cloths.
·    Repairing and/or reconstruction of infrastructure facilities including roads,  electrical supply networks, hospitals, etc
·    A continuous supply of clean drinking water and other essential goods.

With the on-going efforts to develop the country after the end of the war, it is estimated that Government faces a huge challenge and it alone cannot handle the above re-development works and thus, international aid is mandatory.

As such, MP Sri Ranga noted that the Indian High Commissioner Mr Ashok K Kantha visited and stayed in Batticaloa district to carryout an assessment of the ground situations and the local people are heavily relying on the Indian Government to do all what is necessary in order to get them back on their foot.

  • Second stage of Indian aid (approx. 30 MT) has arrived on 17 Jan 11 including dry rations, milk powder, mattresses, water purification equipment and medicines.
  • 135 acres of agricultural area have been destroyed in Batticaloa, of which 130 acres are paddy fields.
  • Batticaloa and Ampara districts were anticipated to meet 22% of the national demand for rice, and due to the disaster a 14.5% drop in the anticipated rice production is expected in the country
  • Flood puts pressure on the prices of essential items, but the relevant ministries are trying to prevent and control the increase.
  • The flood situation that was prevailing in the country has improved and most of the roads in  the East and Northern parts of the country are free of inundation, the Disaster Management  Center said (Daily news, 18 Jan 11).
  • The UN issued an aid appeal of $51 million to help more than 1 million flood affected people as its deputy emergency relief coordinator, Catherine Bragg, arrived on the island for a three-day mission to meet with victims and the authorities. After the visit, the UN has pledged $6m aid from it's Emergency Response Fund to kick start the Priority Projects.
  • China has offered to provide $1.52 million humanitarian emergency aid to Sri Lanka (China Daily 19 Jan 11).


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