Food crisis looms after Sri Lanka floods

Maida Vale resident working for Save the Children charity fears for welfare of 400,000 children

While the extent of terrible flooding in Australia and Brazil is reasonably well known, coverage of 400,000 children facing a devastating food crisis after floods in Sri Lanka is far less widespread.

More than one million Sri Lankan people have been affected by floods caused by relentless monsoon rains in early January which have left more than 350,000 people forced into temporary refuge camps.

Although the rains have finally abated, Maida Vale resident Joanne Carrington, who is in Sri Lanka for charity Save the Children, says the ramifications could be disastrous as food shortages take their toll.

“One of our biggest concerns now is for livelihoods as initial estimates indicate that over 250,000 acres of crop land have been impacted,” said the Fordingley Road resident.

“We are concerned about the food security of families between now and the next harvest, which is not for another six months.

“Last Saturday was Harvest festival for Tamil people here but there was no harvesting.

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“Thousands of farming households will need assistance to resume productive agricultural activities and we will be assessing these needs over the next few weeks.”

Ms Carrington, whose six month stay in Colombo is her first trip to a disaster zone, says people have started to move back to their homes only for hundreds of thousands of people to find their houses or shelters severely damaged or destroyed.

The eastern side of Sri Lanka, including the Batticaloa, Ampara and Trincomalee districts have been worst hit and it is expected that the long-term impacts in those areas will be severe.

Last week Save the Children launched a �1million appeal to help families affected by the floods avoid a major food crisis. The charity has already been distributing food, clothing and essential items to thousands of families living in makeshift camps.

Ms Carrington says children are particularly at risk from the effects of a food shortage as it can lead to malnutrition, which makes children more likely to suffer disease and other health problems.

“Children have lost everything from their school bags, books, stationary and clothes, and some children will be traumatised by this flooding,” said Ms Carrington.

“They have had to leave their homes, they aren’t able to go to school and they will be living in very unusual conditions.

“We will try to arrange some child friendly activities within the welfare centres for displaced people to return some normality to their lives.

“Being here and a part of this emergency response has shown me how dedicated our teams are to help children, they are working tirelessly, packing kits at all hours for distributions and providing essential life saving support to families and children when they need it most, even when their own lives have been severely affected by the flooding.

“It has shown me how quickly people’s lives can be turned upside down, this is not something that people will be able to recover from quickly, some people are starting again from scratch. This is something I think we find it hard to imagine from our homes in the UK – to lose your home, your livelihood and all your belongings in one go.”

o To donate to Save the Children’s Sri Lanka appeal visit: or call 020-7012 6400.