On Sunday, Sri Lanka was faced with the worst flooding on the island in the past decade. Emergency teams consisting of soldiers and international aid workers rushed to distribute aid and locate missing people. At least 151 have been confirmed dead. The Health Minister has reported that 111 people remain missing and death tolls are likely to rise.
Nearly 10% of those displaced by the flooding are children under the age of five. Stagnant waters after the flooding increase concerns about the breeding of dengue-infected mosquitoes. Diarrheal diseases are a particular concern for young children. Medical teams have been released in the most critical areas to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases. In the past, these teams have been very effective at preventing cholera outbreaks following floods.
The water levels have begun to recede slowly, but entire villages remain under water. With almost 2,000 houses destroyed, many have been displaced from their communities.
Floods and natural disaster are not uncommon in Sri Lanka and will continue to increase with climate change. This will lead to increased internal and international displacement of Sri Lankans. For this reason, issues of effective aid for those displaced are extremely important considerations. For example, natural disaster and the following settlement caused by displacement unequally affects women. This includes considerations of gender inequality. Due to existing gendered systems, many women are left in states of increased vulnerability after a natural disaster. For this reason, it is important to include women in the decision-making process after a disaster occurs. This can lead to better mental health outcomes for women in the wake of tragedy, as well as lead to effective aid within communities.
Currently, Sri Lanka is calling for foreign aid to assist with ensuring there is enough bottled water, new clothes, and dry rations for those affected.