In their own words: the aftermath of the Sri Lankan monsoon | Humanitarian Coalition
In their own words: the aftermath of the Sri Lankan monsoon
“We’ve experienced similar floods before. The houses in this area are surrounded by many rivers and the residents are often prepared for when the river overflows. Unfortunately, this year a higher amount of rainfall occurred very quickly and we didn’t have time to evacuate. After the floods, the water remained stagnant for a while and had to be cleaned urgently. There were concerns that it was enabling the breeding of dengue mosquitoes. I have been given money and this has helped a great deal to purchase kitchen essentials as most of my belongings were swept away with the flood water.”

With the equivalent of a month’s rainfall in two days, the devastating impacts of the May 2017 monsoon in southwestern Sri Lanka were widespread. However, thanks to the Canadian Humanitarian Assistance Fund, Humanitarian Coalition member Oxfam Canada responded quickly, focusing on women and the most vulnerable and providing hygiene kits and improving access to clean water. Oxfam also offered cash-for-work initiatives so residents could earn money while cleaning up the damage the flood caused in their community.

Karuna Edhirisinghe, Poorna Udhayangani and R. A. Indrani recall the devastation caused by the floods and how - thanks to Oxfam’s help - they were able to clean up and recover.

Sri Lanka storm 2017 stories

“We’ve experienced similar floods before. The houses in this area are surrounded by many rivers and the residents are often prepared for when the river overflows. Unfortunately, this year a higher amount of rainfall occurred very quickly and we didn’t have time to evacuate. After the floods, the water remained stagnant for a while and had to be cleaned urgently. There were concerns that it was enabling the breeding of dengue mosquitoes. I have been given money and this has helped a great deal to purchase kitchen essentials as most of my belongings were swept away with the flood water.” - Karuna Edhirisinghe

Sri Lanka storm 2017 stories

“This area floods regularly, however the recent floods were unusually violent and the water levels reached nearly two metres high. Access was completely cut off due to the build-up of water and debris. More than 50 people worked for nearly 12 days to clean the roads and remove potential blockades to water paths. Usually when it floods here, water from other areas flow into the low-lying regions but this time the water remained for a longer period of time.” - Poorna Udhayangani

Sri Lanka storm 2017 stories

“During the floods, access routes were blocked due to the accumulation of debris and we were unable to go to the shops. People living on the other side of the area couldn’t return to their houses. There are two exit routes but only one route was able to take us to higher ground. The main objective of clearing the stagnated water was to create a clear path and to remove further blockades. This also helped to destroy potential dengue breeding locations.” - R. A. Indrani

Photos: Oxfam