The situation in Sri Lanka is very worrying. A few years ago, flooding affecting 300,000 people might have captured the headlines, but these days it feels like this is just business as usual. I had the impression that the reports on Sri Lanka tended to get coverage only because it was one of three countries (Australia, Brazil, and Sri Lanka) all badly affected by exceptional rains.
On the ground of course, whether you’re part of a group of 300 or 300,000 people affected, it can be a truly devastating experience. I have spent time in flooded areas of Bangladesh, and India before now, and the way people cope can be quite amazing.
Practical Action has been working in Kathiravely and Kalmadu where some 150 families are still living in relief camps set up and run by the Government, unable to return home yet. We’re not a relief agency, and are not set up with the kind of logistical capacities to buy and distribute the large amounts of food, blankets, soap and cleaning items that people need today. However, a number of our partners are engaged and we’re helping them where we can.
Soon we will be turning our heads to the task of rebuilding water tanks and flood bunds, and here I am hopeful we can ensure people are aware of the techniques we’ve developed, so structures will be able to withstand future flooding when it occurs. Unfortunately, it does seem that it’s a question of when, not if.