Drought, Floods Slash Sri Lanka’s Rice Production, Threaten Food Security – UN

ROME, June 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A severe drought followed by floods has slashed agricultural production in Sri Lanka, leaving some 900,000 people facing food insecurity, the United Nations said, warning that without help the situation might further deteriorate.

Mahieash Johnney / Sri Lanka Red Cross Society / IFRC
Sri Lanka Red Cross volunteers engaging in the distribution of non food relief items once again in the district of Kalutara.

Production of rice, the country’s staple food, is forecast to drop almost 40 percent to 2.7 million tonnes in 2017, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) said in a report on Thursday.

Other crops including pulses, chillies and onion are also expected to take a blow, it said.

Sri Lanka was hit by the worst drought in four decades last year, with poor rains continuing into 2017, causing many farmers to lose their crops and income, the agencies said.

In May, the situation was exacerbated by the worst torrential rains in 14 years, which triggered floods and landslides in the country’s southwest, killing some 200 people and forcing many from their homes.

But in drought-affected areas in the north, rains were not sufficient to replenish reservoirs, and the second 2017 rice paddy harvest is expected to be at least 24 percent lower than last year’s, said FAO official Cristina Coslet.

“The level of water in irrigation reservoirs is still well below the average,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Some 225,000 households – or 900,000 people – face food insecurity, and have been forced to eat less and lower quality food, the report said.

Unable to grow their own crops, many families have to buy food at local markets where prices have spiked due to the crisis, it said.

FAO and WFP said seeds, equipment, irrigation support, and cash assistance are urgently needed to help farmers in the next planting season starting in September, and to prevent conditions from deteriorating.

“If (the planting season) fails the situation will worsen a lot for the families affected,” Coslet said.

Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, editing by Alisa Tang for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters.

Flood Summary

Last updated: June 7, 2017
Event
Sri Lanka, May to June 2017
Date
May 24, 2017
Type
Landslide, River flood
Cause
Extreme rainfall

Locations

A - Rathnapura
B - Elapatha
C - Pelmadulla
D - Yakkalamulla
E - Moneragala
F - Kalutara
G - Trincomalee
H - Hambantota
I - Galle
J - Gampaha
K - Batticaloa
L - Vavuniya
M - Mullaitivu
N - Matara
O - Matale
P - Kandy

Magnitude

River level
6.29 metres
Kalu Ganga at Ratnapura - May 25 to May 25, 2017
alert level is 5.2 metres
River level
4.83 metres
Kalu Ganga at Milakanda - May 25 to May 25, 2017
alert level is 3.5
River level
4.1 metres
Gin Ganga at Baddegama - May 25 to May 25, 2017
Alert level is 3.5
River level
3.96 metres
Nilwala Ganga at Pitabeddara - May 25 to May 25, 2017
Alert level is 3 m
River level
6.78 metres
Nilwala Ganga at Panadugama - May 25 to May 25, 2017
Alert level is 5 m
Rainfall level
133.1 mm in 24 hours
Ratnapura - May 24 to May 25, 2017
All rainfall figures from WMO
Rainfall level
162.9 mm in 24 hours
Galle - May 24 to May 25, 2017
Rainfall level
50.3 mm in 24 hours
Anuradhapura - May 24 to May 25, 2017
Rainfall level
64 mm in 24 hours
Maha Illuppallama - May 24 to May 25, 2017
Rainfall level
84.2 mm in 24 hours
Vavuniya - May 24 to May 25, 2017
Rainfall level
70 mm in 24 hours
Ratmalana - May 24 to May 25, 2017
Rainfall level
76 mm in 24 hours
Colombo - May 24 to May 25, 2017
Rainfall level
383.7 mm in 24 hours
Ratnapura - May 25 to May 26, 2017
Rainfall level
304 mm in 24 hours
Diyatalawa - May 25 to May 26, 2017
Rainfall level
79.9 mm in 24 hours
Hambantota - May 25 to May 26, 2017
Rainfall level
50.5 mm in 24 hours
Galle - May 25 to May 26, 2017
Rainfall level
51.1 mm in 24 hours
Nuwara Eliya - May 25 to May 26, 2017

Damages

Fatalities
212 people
May 25 to June 5, 2017
Buildings destroyed
2,313
May 25 to June 5, 2017
12,529 houses damaged
Evacuated
101,638
May 25 to May 28, 2017
24,603 families in 319 displacement camps / safe locations. As of 31 May this figure had fallen to approximately 73,561 people belonging to 19,019 families located at 354 safe locations. By 05 June the figure stood at 24,962 people in 226 displacement camps.
Injured
131 people
May 25 to June 5, 2017
Missing people
79 people
May 25 to June 5, 2017