Significant humanitarian needs emerge as people start to return to their homes in flood-affected Sri Lanka

Published: 18th January 2011

Many people are returning to their homes in flood-hit Sri Lanka but the humanitarian challenge has only just begun, international aid agency Oxfam said today.

The heavy rains have now subsided and flood waters are beginning to recede, but the significant damage the disaster has wrought means people will need continued support to re-build their lives.

More than a million people have been affected in the flood which has also resulted in significant damage to crops, livestock and infrastructure. Some 300,000 acres of paddy has been affected and thousands of houses and irrigation tanks damaged. Oxfam urged donors to respond generously to the UN flash appeal, which launches later this week.

Oxfam Program Manager in Batticaloa, Subathra Yogasingham, says, “This is the worst natural disaster that Sri Lanka has faced since the 2004 tsunami. The challenges are immense. Even though the weather seems to have improved, there are hundreds of thousands of families that still need support. People have been severely affected and many of their basic needs are yet to be met, they will also need significant help to re-build their homes and re-start their livelihoods.”

Saundarajah Parvathy, 45, who was affected by the flood, returned to her home, in Mahilavaduvvan village in Batticaloa West, but found that it had been destroyed by the flood water. She told Oxfam:

“I lost everything-groceries, cooking utensils and clothes. There are snakes in my house and my paddy field is under water. I will have to go back and stay at the government welfare camp for a few more days at least. I don’t know what I will do. I will probably have to work as a casual labourer in order to earn some money.”

Oxfam has been supporting flood-affected communities in Sri Lanka since the start of the disaster. Oxfam and partners are currently reaching more than 17,000 people with non-food items, food and water assistance, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, mats and tarpaulins. Oxfam will be massively scaling up its response to the disaster in the next few days to reach 120,000 people in the Eastern and North Central Provinces.

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Oxfam GB's Sri Lanka Floods Appeal

Alternatively, please consider making a donation to the general emergency fund of your nearest national Oxfam affiliate. Your money will be used to fund our emergency work worldwide, which includes responding in countries such as Sri Lanka.

This is the worst natural disaster that Sri Lanka has faced since the 2004 tsunami.
Subathra Yogasingham
Oxfam Program Manager in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka

Notes to editors

Photos from Sri Lanka are available on request.

Oxfam staff are available for interview on the ground in the affected area.

Oxfam has been supporting projects and partners in Sri Lanka since 1968. Oxfam’s focus, in the country, is on women’s economic and political leadership, livelihoods and economic development, and humanitarian assistance and protection.

Contact information

For more information:

1)    Thusitha Siriwardana, Campaigns and Policy Manager, Oxfam GB, Colombo
Mobile: +94 (0) 773184817

2) Rishani Wijesinghe, Advocacy Coordinator, Oxfam Australia, Colombo
Tel: +94 (0) 772929147

3) S.Raguraamamurty, Program Coordinator, Oxfam GB, Batticaloa
Mobile: +94 (0) 77 318 726 8