Every few hours we are getting reports and photos from Red Cross volunteers working in the flood affected areas. With hundreds of photos passing on my screen every day, some stick in my mind because I can relate to the situation. In New Zealand, as everywhere else in the world, one's home is a place where generations are born and raised. The loss of a house is completely devastating to a family.
The Sri Lanka Red Cross supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are getting relief assistance out to all remote corners of the flood affected lowland and mountain areas.Apart from the food, clothing, water and blanket distribution, the health teams are doing important work to keep people healthy and promote high hygiene standards, Rescue still goes on and I have been particulraly impressed by the life savers who normal patrol beaches in the tourist areas of Gampaha district, have gone in with their inflatable boats and have done a marvellous job rescuing stranded people. A number of these people lost their homes in the conflict that lasted for 25 years, then the tsunami and now the floods.
My heart goes out to them and I feel proud the Red Cross is able to meet so many urgent needs of the people.But we need more money and more supplies.
Getting ready to go to Thiruwandianmadu island which had no contact with the outside world for some days. Staff and volunteers are packing items in the boat.
Dr. Mahesh informed us that the 265 camps in Batticaloa accomodating affected people has now reduced to 65 as people return home to repair houses and try and salvage crops. Livelihoods is a worry as most of the rice crops in Pollonnaruwa, Batticaloa and parts of Ampara have been destroyed. This is the main of two crops (called Maha) with the next, the smaller one (called Yala) to be planted in May. The worry is that the tanks (small artificial irrigation lakes) have been destroyed, which, if not repaired in time, means there will be no irrigation for this land which is quite dry in May and June and dependent on irrigation. Also worrying is that the Government building research organisation has reported that there are 479 areas in the mountainous districts of Kandy and Matale, that are prone to landslides, and have warned locals be be on the alert.
So while the relief operation goes on, we are worried about the medium to longterm effects, on the livelihoods of the affected populations..
For further information go to Sri Lanka Red Cross website