Friday, February 25, 2011

Sri Lanka: Floods: Food shortages anticipated due to destruction of paddy fields

Daily News, Sri Lanka

Some weeks back I became aware that a flood had occurred in Sri Lanka.  refWrite has carried reports in years past of disasters in that country, especially becawz of a friend who worked there and becawz of an interest I've had in the Reformed Church (a small but ethnically-diverse community in several cities and towns, with its own seminary) and more recently becawz of reports in the web messages I receive from Christian Reformed World Relief (CRWR) that has been active on the island, a republic with a population of 20,926,315 on January 13th 2011. Almost 21 million!

Sri Lanka was hit by massive floods and mudslides in mid-January 2k11, and then again in early February.  Recovery has been slow, according to a recent report by CRWR; but I coud find no sign of flood-related info in today's issue of Daily News (published in the capital Colombo, with an online issue as well). Here's an extract from an earlier report from another newspaper, as summarized on the website Groundviews: Journalism for Citizens (for an excellent map of the 2nd round of floods see here). 
The Daily Mirror [Jan13,2k11] 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.”
Batticaloa is my favourite city on the island, as I once edited a little book of short stories by people from there.  "In the eastern region of Batticaloa, the hardest affected region, more than 393 mm of rain fell during one 24-hour period. This is the heaviest rainfall that has been seen in more than 100 years," says a CRWRC news item from Jan19,2k11.  Dear Batti, how are you doing these days?  Is Paul back from his sojourn among the Forest Monks of Thailand?

-- posted by Politicarp

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