Water and sanitation a key concern in Sri Lanka flood emergency

Water and sanitation a key concern in Sri Lanka flood emergency

2016 Emergency Sri Lanka Roanu_1

© UNICEF/Sri Lanka

GENEVA/ ROSA/ SRI LANKA/ HONG KONG, 24 May 2016 – Over 300,000 victims including women and children have been affected by the tropical cyclonic storm ‘ROANU’ which has caused landslides and heavy rains in 22 districts of the 25 districts in the country. Eighty-two people had been reported dead and 118 people claimed missing from the resultant landslides in the Kegalle district.

Currently, survivors are living in schools and public buildings being used as temporary camps. UNICEF has responded to the growing risk of water borne diseases due to contaminated water sources, by supplying 12 tons of chlorine powder and 500,000 purification tablets to ensure safe drinking water. These are being distributed through Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health.

“With more rains predicted over the next days the plight of the children and families is critical concern” says UNICEF Sri Lanka Representative Una McCauley. Humanitarian agencies estimate that over 100,000 children are worst affected in the flood emergency.

“Safe water remains both an immediate need and long-term challenge to ensure that families survive and are able to continue their lives” says McCauley.

In response to both the interim water supply and rehabilitation of water sources critical during the early recovery, UNICEF has procured water tanks and water pumps for distribution through the National Water Supply and Drainage Board to the affected regions. While more supplies are being procured for the water, sanitation and hygiene response, the restoration of damaged sanitation facilities and septage management requires urgent support.

Key priorities include;

  • Supplying water tanks and safe drinking water.
  • Cleaning and rehabilitating wells, and installing package treatment plants.
  • Supporting hygiene education in schools and camps.
  • Conducting sanitation and clean-up drives in affected areas.
  • Rehabilitating septage management
  • New Technology for onsite water testing, treatment and sanitation

The Government of Italy is supporting the emergency response for water and sanitation, and the Government of Australia through its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is funding the protection and education needs of children.

UNICEF is also working closely with Sri Lanka’s National Child Protection Authority and Education Ministry to ensure the protection and safety of all affected children, while supporting the rapid needs assessment and overall coordination of relief efforts with the Government of Sri Lanka, aid agencies, UN and I/NGO’s.