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[Floods and landslides] State of damage in the central Ratnapura District—the investigators’ report—

The tropical cyclone that struck Sri Lanka on May 24 and 25 brought huge damage to the central and southern parts of the country just as last year.

The floods and landslides that occurred in the 12 districts in Sri Lanka killed a total of 213 people, as well as creating over 660,000 victims and more than 70,000 evacuees at its peak. As many as 3,124 buildings were completely destroyed and 20,814 partially destroyed by the disaster, the Sri Lankan Disaster Management Center said.

A team of JEN staff members visited the Ratnapura District in central Sri Lanka, which suffered extensive damage, in order to investigate the state of damage and the local demand after the disaster. Access to the Ratnapura District is bad as it is surrounded by mountains, and assistance is hard to reach. Many people in various parts of the district were affected by landslides as well as flooding.

We visited four counties for investigation, the ones that were most heavily damaged in the district. We interviewed the Disaster Management Center and local government personnel, as well as victims.

[The mountain path stretches endlessly to the investigation site; a car can barely pass through]

What we learned from the affected people was that the floods and landslides deprived them of their homes, seriously and directly causing damage to some of them. In addition, although they escaped the disaster this time, more than 600 households are forced to evacuate or permanently move out because their houses are located in the landslide danger zones.

They will be given new lands from the government and will receive assistance to build the foundation for new lives. However, some people worry about the situation where they have to abandon the lives they are used to and have to live as evacuees for several months until new lands are allocated.

[A JEN staff member interviewing people living in the evacuation center]

[An extensive landslide destroyed many houses]

[A flash flood caused by a landslide completely destroyed the house]

In Sri Lanka, flooding occurs almost every year due to heavy rain caused by cyclones. Although the scale of damage may vary, we think that the disaster prevention measures need to be tightened in the whole country in order to reduce the number of victims in the future.

Based on the results of our investigation, we are considering the feasibility of starting a new emergency assistance project.

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June 22, 2017 in Sri Lanka |