View Flood-affected areas in Sri Lanka – January 2011 in a larger map

The map above identifies the main flood-affected regions, sites where relief and rescue operations have been conducted, areas prone to landslides and specific locations that are at risk.  Please click on the link below the map to view it on a larger screen. You may click on individual markers for detailed information and zoom in to view the location of specific shelter camps located in the east. Please note that this map is updated as soon as the Editors of Groundviews receive detailed information and reports from the ground.

After our last updated post on 12 January 2011, a Daily Mirror SMS update at 12:50PM reported that there were 21 deaths and over 1,000,000 people affected as a result of the floods and bad weather that continues to devastate these regions. The Eastern Province is the worst affected with over 860,000 flood victims according to the latest figures released by the Disaster Management Centre. There have been widespread reports that it has become increasingly difficult to access specific areas due to submerged or damaged roads and the prevailing weather conditions in the North Central Province and the Eastern Province. The Director General of Disaster Management Centre stated the following in a news report published by the Daily Mirror,

Batticaloa District is worst hit by the floods with 533,000 people belonging to 30,264 families have been displaced. He said eight deaths have been reported from the district and 225 displaced camps have been set up in the district.

He said the district is experiencing a rainfall of 113mm/day continuously (Emphasis ours.) Yesterday it had been 200mm. Major General Hettiarachchi said two air force helicopters had been deployed to distribute relief and to rescue the affected people but they could not be taken off the ground due to bad weather yesterday as well.

More than 200 tanks have been extensively damaged while nearly 20,000 acres of paddy land were also destroyed.

Overall 996,757 people have been affected by the floods with 1727 houses have been fully destroyed while 12,151 have been partly destroyed. Total numbers of deaths stood at 18 while 49 were injured as at yesterday afternoon. Some 52, 391 families who have been displaced have been housed in 502 camps.

The Daily Mirror notes that Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena has informed “officials about the necessity to repair the submerged roads as early as possible as it has hampered the relief supply to flooded areas in the country.”

We now face a real threat of severe food shortages due to the complete destruction of over 130,000 acres of paddy field. Agriculture Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardhana stated the following to the Daily Mirror,

“There is no doubt that we need an advanced strategy to face the food crisis that is inevitable. We can have a better picture only after the flood waters have fully receded. Therefore, we cannot say what kind of response we have to the crisis right now. What I can assure is that the government is going to face this with resolve and people must be prepared to it.”

Over a quarter of Sri Lanka is currently under water and 40 per cent of cultivated areas are submerged according to the Minister of Agriculture.

Update at 14:26PM: The death toll is now at 23.

Update on 15/01/11 at 4:13PM via JNW SMS update: “Total 1,053,718 persons affected by floods. 3744 houses fully damaged and 19,534 partially damaged. 37 deaths with 18 in Batticaloa – DMC – JNW.”



The Editors of Groundviews appeal to all our readers to assist in any way possible and to spread the word. For more information on how to help the victims of flood-affected areas, please visit our previous post here.

  • Davidson

    The goernment should release the frozen TRO funds for flood relief work.

  • Davidson
    ”President Mahinda Rajapaksa has undertaken few reconciliation measures since defeating Tamil separatists. Current Sri Lanka floods provide a chance for him improve relations. The 2004 tsunami presented the government in Colombo, then at war with the separatist Tamils, with a similar opportunity to repair relations. But the initial goodwill quickly broke down into squabbles over the spoils of foreign aid and unequal restrictions on beachfront redevelopment.”

    All could be forgiven and forgotten. The following could be changed:
    Why Sirimavo refused to visit Jaffna after 1964 cyclone, Neville Jayaweera, 18 january 2009:
    ”On reaching Jaffna I found conditions were horrendous. Our resources were limited, having no heavy machinery for clearing roads and for rescuing people buried under fallen houses. Everything had to be done by hand and we were hard put to it, to bring relief and succour to hundreds of sorrowing families. All public services, particularly the PWD and the Irrigation Department, and my DROs and village headmen, suspended their normal work and mobilising to a man, struggled valiantly to bring some order out of the chaos. One of the first services to be restored was the telephone link to Colombo…..
    Her response filled me with dismay and a deep sadness. It was not just that she failed to respond to her people’s anguish, but the realisation dawned on me that Sri Lanka as a nation had no leader. It was as if the Prime Minister of the country had consciously renounced responsibility for one fourth of her country’s population! Not least, the high esteem in which I had held her after meeting her on several occasions, plummeted. ….”
    Approaches to equity in post-Tsunami assistance. Sri Lanka: A case study, Mandeep Kaur Grewal(DfID), November 2006:
    ”Within several days of the tsunami, Trincomalee’s District Secretary echoed the practice of his counterparts in other tsunami affected districts by engaging with a range of local stakeholders to form a coordination task force. By February 2005, presidential instructions arrived, requiring the District Secretary to seek ministerial approval for each task force meeting, effectively replacing this body with a special Council for the Reconstruction of Trincomalee, which involved approximately 70 members and was headed by ministers based in Colombo. The Council’s creation compromised district coordination efforts while providing no effective alternative, with the new Council meeting fewer than three times over 2005. The example of the District Secretary, who was undermined in developing a standard coordination process that other districts were able to implement, contrasts sharply with Hambantota’s housing experience, where conventional bureaucratic norms and systems of accountability were set aside, allowing the district to respond comparatively faster in planning reconstruction. ….”

    • wijayapala

      Hi Davidson,

      This is what might happen if the govt releases TRO funds:

      Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka: Swindlers Hold Sway

      “There are numerous cases of unaffected families being provided relief, cash grants, and houses due to political patronage. This type of fraud is higher in the north and east than in other parts of the country due to organised attempt by the LTTE to plunder the state and the donors in the name of tsunami rehabilitation.
      “Hence, the pattern emerging out of the foregoing examples is that people closer to the LTTE are getting priority and favoured treatment whether affected by the tsunami or not in the LTTE-controlled areas of the north. Particularly, families of martyrs are given the most favoured treatment.

      “Most tsunami-affected people in the camps where fieldwork was conducted have received semi-permanent homes and only a small number of people are still camping in tents. However, in Kervil the affected people were asked by the TRO to do their own roofing and that they would reimburse the cost in due course of time. However, inmates complained that they had not received the promised payment so far. Moreover, there are also differences in types of semi-permanent houses constructed in different places. Semi-permanent houses constructed by TRO in Kervil, Kattaikadu, and Maruthenkerny have a concrete floor (with no foundation), and concrete walls up to only three feet height. Then it is elevated by slim iron bars with thatched roof. The door is made out of tin sheet. Whereas the semi-permanent houses built by Sewa Lanka (southern-based national NGO) in Kallaru refugee camp have a stronger foundation floor and concrete walls right up to the roof, which is thatched. Besides, they also have a wooden door.
      “Needless to say, the tsunami-affected people in Kervil, Kattaikadu and Maruthenkerny refugee camps are not satisfied with their shoddy semi-permanent houses. The inmates doubt it would have cost the TRO LKR 45,000 for each house.

      “In the aftermath of the tsunami the LTTE and TRO cruelly capitalised on the massive sympathy wave sweeping the Tamil diaspora to mobilise huge amount of money. It was reported that TRO has mobilised US$ 500 million from various sources including the Tamil diaspora [Jayasekara 2005].
      “However, there is no evidence of the money collected abroad remitted to Sri Lanka.
      “Tamil people know only of LTTE efficiency in killings, extortions in the name of taxes and tariffs [Sarvananthan 2003], and propaganda (spreading falsehood, outright lies and misinformation). LTTEs inefficiency is well known to the Tamil people living in the North and East, but perhaps not to some overseas academics. Has the LTTE ever shown accounts for various illegal taxes it levies on the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and abroad? When did LTTE or TRO account for the monies collected after the tsunami?”

  • Davidson

    1.I am not here to argue the corruption of a an armed group that struggled to do what they thought was right in getting justice.

    2.I don’t have to remind anybody of the disgusting and debilitating corruption of our elected politicians over the past decades.

    3.LTTE has come and gone. If there is no change in the life of the minorities before, during, and after, the armed struggle, what is the logical conclusion?
    Why Sirimavo refused to visit Jaffna after 1964 cyclone
    By Neville Jayaweera, 18 January 2009:

    Broadly, there are two types of political leaders.

    The commonest are those who have sensed the dominant mood of the people, the zeit geist, and ride it to power, like surfers ride the waves. They are the sectarian populists. Not being rooted in a set of values, and lacking a higher vision, they do not question the morality of the dominant mood, much less seek to transform it, and once ensconced in office, using all the state apparatus at their disposal, seek only to magnify it. Lacking moral goals higher than attaining or remaining in power, they are quite willing to sacrifice the nation and the long term good of the very people who brought them to power, at the altar of their ambitions. As they hurry the nation in a disintegrating downward spiral, their sectarian constituency cheers them on, and lacking any criteria by which to judge themselves or their constituency, they cease to be true leaders of the nation and become instead tribal chieftains.

    The second type of leader is those who, having caught a vision of a civilized society, try to objectify it. Their take off point is not the mass but the vision, and their constant reference frame are the attributes of that higher moral order, viz .fundamental rights, righteousness, equality, justice, integrity, fairness, harmony and peace. The dominant paradigm will always resist any attempt by that higher order to intrude upon its sectarian domain, but the test of a great leader is his willingness to dilute into it those elevated attributes, so that they may start working as catalysts, like salt works in a bowl of soup. Seeing that there is a huge gap between the higher vision he is trying to objectify and the sectarian consciousness in which he is trapped, the great leader tries to bridge the gap by upgrading the latter. He starts paddling upstream, against the torrent. Sadly, such leaders belong to a miniscule minority.

    More than the power it derives from an overwhelming superiority in numbers, what exalts any majority community, and endows it with a true greatness and moral authority, is its willingness to accord to all those other communities who lack the advantage of numbers, a status and dignity equal to its own, and never to let them feel marginalized or disadvantaged because they are fewer in number, or because they are different in colour or beliefs.

    Unless and until Sri Lanka can produce leaders who can realize that truth, and are willing to act on it, it will continue to be dismembered by conflict, long after the LTTE and Pirabhikaran have passed into history.”

    (Neville Jayaweera is a former Government Agent of Jaffna. The above article , extracted from his forthcoming book of memoirs, was published in the “Sunday Island” of Jan 18th 2009)

  • Mary Tony


    Education, education, education

    Building a consciousness of nationhood, or a deseeya cintanaya, is not a responsibility that can be left to politicians and constitutional lawyers. A deseeya chintanaya cannot be legislated, nor can it be secured through structural changes. Unlike a jathika cintanaya, whether Sinhala or Dhamila, which have roots reaching back over two thousand years, the seeds of a deseeya cintanaya have yet to be planted.

    It is pre-eminently an educational task, to be initiated at the level of our schools. It requires a new way of looking at history, and helping young minds climb out of the constraints placed on their understanding by the sectarian myths, legends, and memories that are embedded in their ancient chronicles, whether they relate to their Aryan origins or to their Dravidian origins. This does not mean that children should be ignorant of, much less that they should reject, their rich historical inheritance, but that they should acquire a more global view of history and be equipped with a critical sense that will enable them to stand back and look at their respective narratives more objectively.