Emergency Supplies Reach Sri Lanka Flood Victims

Published on 13 January 2011

Flood victims in Sri Lanka's Ampara district carry home food rations distributed by WFP. Photo: WFP/Laksiri-Nan

Torrential rains across much of eastern Sri Lanka in recent days have unleashed floodwaters affecting around one million people and prompting WFP to launch an immediate emergency operation to provide life-saving food rations to the worst-affected areas.

COLOMBO--Food distributions started on January 1 as the scale of the flooding became apparent, with WFP drawing on food stocks already in-country for its existing operations.

WFP is initially targeting some 420,000 displaced people with a 5-day ration, and nearly 100 metric tons of food has already been distributed. With many homes and livelihoods washed away, it is expected that many thousands will continue to need food assistance over an extended period. 

WFP is currently preparing an emergency operation that responds to these needs over the next 6 months.

Forced to flee

In the worst affected districts of Batticaloa and Ampara, many of those forced to leave their homes have gathered in camps or have taken shelter with family and friends.

Food has already been distributed in these areas, and supplies have reached warehouses in Pollonnaruwa and Trincomalee.

WFP operations are being conducted in close cooperation with government efforts to provide assistance to flood victims. An assessment of needs is currently underway and will inform a six-month emergency operation, to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Food breaks

The flooding comes at a time when WFP is facing major breaks in food supplies for its return and resettlement programmes in Sri Lanka. Rations for people returning home following conflict have already been reduced significantly since October 2010.

Supplies of rice, the main staple food in Sri Lanka, will run out in February and all other food commodities will be exhausted by April.

Immediate support from donors is paramount to the continuation of food assistance at a time when agricultural fields are also significantly affected by the floods and increased water levels.

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Marcus Prior

Spokesperson for South and East Asia

Marcus Prior, a former journalist, was WFP's East Africa spokesperson before coming to Bangkok in 2010 to head up public relations in South and East Asia.