Episcopal Relief & Development supports flood relief efforts in Sri Lanka

July 5, 2017

[Episcopal Relief & Development] Episcopal Relief & Development is partnering with the Church of Ceylon’s Diocese of Colombo to feed more than 3,000 displaced people following severe and widespread flooding in Sri Lanka. These relief activities, led by the diocesan Board of Social Responsibility (BSR), are focused in five hard-hit districts where the Church’s strong presence can best meet local needs.

The effectiveness of this response is directly related to the BSR’s strong disaster preparedness plan and its countrywide network of congregations, clergy and response teams that provide the capacity and resources to coordinate humanitarian relief efforts. As a result of the BSR’s experience and its disaster risk management training from Episcopal Relief & Development, emergency operations mobilized immediately during the flooding and were able to provide necessary aid to those affected.

“We are extremely grateful at this time for the preparedness measures taken before and during the floods,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Program Officer for Disaster Response and Risk Reduction. “Much to the credit of the BSR’s training, emergency relief was coordinated immediately and we are already seeing the benefits of their preparedness and response.”

Episcopal Relief & Development will continue to partner with the diocese to aid in recovery, providing food and cookware for people displaced from their homes. The agency’s support will assist 3,280 men, women and children in five communities with dry ration packs containing a supply of clean water, flour, sugar, soap and basic sanitation and food provisions. The organization will also provide packs of kitchen necessities including water jugs, bowls, plates, cups and utensils. Based on needs assessments, this support will reach families in some of the districts most severely impacted by the disaster.

In late May, heavy rainfall in the Southern and Western regions of the country resulted in flash flooding and deadly landslides that left over 200 dead and 96 missing. The Diocese of Colombo initially reported 77,643 people displaced in 15 districts, with an unknown number stranded in their homes or taking shelter at host families. Response teams faced power outages and barriers to telecommunication that hindered search and rescue operations and left thousands of displaced people at risk.

“The affected have little choice except to mourn their losses both in terms of their family members and huge damage to their properties,” reported Binnu Jeevarajan, coordinator of the Church of Ceylon’s Board of Social Responsibility. Survivors are sheltering in schools, churches and government institutions, aided by diocesan clergy and support staff.

As flood water has receded, new updates show widespread devastation across the country, with over 700,000 displaced in the aftermath of the flooding. The damage to infrastructure is significant, presenting an ongoing challenge to recovery and a return to normalcy. Over 3,000 homes were destroyed and an additional nearly 20,000 sustained partial damage.

Please pray for all impacted by the severe weather in Sri Lanka, for those who lost homes or loved ones and for the volunteers who are caring for their vulnerable neighbors.

To enable Episcopal Relief & Development to strengthen communities against disaster, please donate to the International Disaster Response Fund.