Prayers after Flooding and Landslides in Sri Lanka

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.


Episcopal Relief & Development Press ReleaseJuly 6, 2017

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 (BSR). 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.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has served as a compassionate response to human suffering in the world. The agency works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, it works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities create long-term development strategies and rebuild after disasters.


June 20, 2017

Binnu Jeevarajan, Board of Social Responsibility (BSR) Coordinator for the Diocese of Colombo, reported on an Anglican Alliance conference call the week of June 12 that: “The flood has receded and people are slowly returning to their homes, unless their houses were damaged. Some are still staying in the camps to get relief.”

Read the full article on the Anglican Alliance website.

Episcopal Relief & Development partner Amity Foundation sent a team of health care providers who conducted five medical camps in coordination with the Diocese of Colombo.

See pictures from the visit on Episcopal Relief & Development's Facebook page.


Episcopal Relief & Development Web StatementMay 31, 2017

Churches in the Anglican Diocese of Colombo are responding to community needs following a period of heavy rains worsened by Cyclone Mora, which hit Sri Lanka on May 26.  More than 630,000 people have been affected by the recent weather, which caused landslides and severe flooding.  As of May 31, according to the Sri Lankan Disaster Management Center, 203 people have died, 96 are missing and more than 77,000 are taking refuge in safe locations.  Over 1,500 homes have been destroyed and another 7,600 have been damaged, with assessments still ongoing.

The Diocese of Colombo’s Board of Social Responsibility mobilized immediately during the storm, citing its training and experience with disaster management as a factor in the rapid organization of the operation center.  Organizers are sharing information about local needs and response capacity via established WhatsApp groups. They are dispatching teams of responders with relief supplies gathered from around the diocese.  After the water recedes, these teams will also help with cleaning and recovery, with continuing leadership and support from the diocese.

According to the diocese, all churches and parish halls in the impacted areas are serving as relief centers, and in many places the local clergy have joined with other religious leaders to minister to their shared communities.  Current activities include organizing volunteer teams, housing displaced people and distributing cooked meals, clean water and dry rations.  So far, response teams have identified emergency needs for medical care and household items such as candles, mattresses and cooking utensils.

“The regional disaster teams are a tremendous asset and a credit to the Diocese of Colombo for recognizing the importance of having systems in place,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Program Officer for Disaster Response and Risk Reduction.  “The ability to organize relief activities quickly and to coordinate with other local efforts is incredibly helpful when the needs are sudden and of such magnitude as this.”

Episcopal Relief & Development has a long-standing partnership with the Diocese of Colombo, working together in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and in support of healing and reconciliation since the end of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil conflict in 2009.  The diocese was also one of the key partners in the creation of Episcopal Relief & Development’s “Pastors and Disasters” toolkit.

Please pray for all impacted by the severe weather, for those who lost homes or loved ones, for the responders who are working to ensure safety 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.

Read more about the situation in Sri Lanka (ACNS article).

Header image: Anglican Diocese of Colombo

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