Sri Lanka has been experiencing ongoing drought since the beginning of 2016. In recent months, approximately 1 million people have been affected across the country by the drought.
Paddy cultivation in the Maha 2016 season (the main harvest season) was seriously affected by the dry spell, with an expected reduction of 63% in the March/April 2017 harvest resulting in the worst main agricultural harvest season in 40 years. The Yala (minor season from May- Aug 2017) cultivation is also at high risk. As a result, household food security and nutrition status is expected to deteriorate in the coming months.
The following assessment report was jointly produced by the Ministry of Disaster Management and the World Food Programme and was developed using WFP’s 72 hour approach, a needs assessment system introduced by the Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) team at WFP's Regional Bureau for Asia Pacific.
Despite a spell of extremely heavy rain in mid-May, the total cumulative rainfall received in Sri Lanka throughout 2016 was highly erratic and overall, below normal as both the south west and north east monsoons failed to bring enough rainfall.
As can be seen from the map below, showing reservoir water levels as of January 27, 2017 in comparison to the capacity levels last year, water availability has fallen significantly.
Rainfall received during January and February 2017, including heavy short spells, will not change the irreversible damage to the current agricultural season, and if they continue as expected, will only alleviate water shortages for human consumption and livestock needs. The subsequent 2017 Yala season is still expected to be compromised by lower than needed levels of water in reservoirs and a shortage of seeds for planting.