Based on its longstanding relationship with Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka’s largest community-based organization, we have already remitted the first tranche of cash support (donations matched 100:50 by LIRNEasia) already used in urgent relief work (bottled water and dry rations) in four priority districts: Colombo, Gampaha, Kegalla and Puttalama. We trust that Sarvodaya is best positioned to identify priority needs and deliver the relief in a reliable manner based on its strong values and years of experience.
Sarvodaya has informed us that it is already looking beyond relief, to actions needed to get he affected people in Sarvodaya villages back on their feet. This will require more commitment of funds and energy than what is needed for immediate relief. We will be with Sarvodaya as they build back better.
As a research organization with expertise in disaster risk reduction and management, we have also started the conversation on what role knowledge could have played in alleviating the pain. Based on initial observations, we cannot blame the agencies responsible for warnings. The models for downstream flooding could of course be improved and precise warnings can be issued. It’s a puzzle why this is much talked about but not acted upon.
We know that extreme weather events like this will occur more frequently. Warnings (our prime focus so far, given they are based on ICTs) alone will not do. Unless people have concrete and practical evacuation options, they will not evacuate. But that is about just saving lives. What about livelihoods and people’s assets? How can we build resilient economies and societies?