The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka has handed over 10,000 surgical masks and 30 Infrared thermometers to the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) to be distributed to relief centres, search and rescue teams and to those affected by the South West monsoon.
In a statement, it said Sri Lanka had faced severe flooding and landslides during the South West monsoons in the recent past.
“More than 879,000 people were affected in 2017 where the livelihoods of more than 342,000 people were affected and 80,000 houses either damaged or destroyed. Recent weather forecasts issued by the Department of Meteorology indicates heavy rains during the next few weeks increasing the risk of floods and landslides in the Western, Southern, Sabaragamuwa and North Western Provinces. As some of the high-risk zones for COVID19 fall within these Provinces, implementing the health and safety guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health is vital to prevent community transmission of COVID-19,” the UNDP said.
The Director General of the Disaster Management Centre, Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe, who was present at the event said, “Preparing for the South West monsoon this year, also means preparing to prevent the risk of a spike in COVID-19 infections. However responses to natural disasters have changed and we are working with the UNDP to ensure relief centres are sufficiently equipped to ensure the safety of those affected”.
Ms. Faiza Effendi, Deputy Resident Representative of the UNDP in Sri Lanka said with the dual challenges posed by the SoutWest monsoon and the COVID-19 pandemic, responding to disasters require collaborative action and keeping communities informed and resilient was a priority of the UNDP.
“The UNDP will continue to provide technical assistance to the national coordination and planning efforts of the DMC to ensure that no one is left behind,” she said.
UNDP in Sri Lanka has further supported Sri Lanka Red Cross to mobilize additional resources for flood preparedness and response in flood and landslide-prone districts that were also considered high risk areas for COVID-19, it is said.
It has assisted in mobilizing volunteers to conduct awareness programmes in collaboration with the DMC, Natural Disaster Relief Services Centre, MOH office for Divisional Offices and other stakeholders including NGOs, CBOs and the private sector.
In addition, the UNDP has also provided relief centres with facilities for screening, disinfecting and personal safety kits and technical support to the DMC to improve virtual emergency coordination and communication at this crucial time while conducting an analysis to develop resource maps for emergency planning.
More than 879,000 people were affected in 2017 where the livelihoods of more than 342,000 people were affected and 80,000 houses either damaged or destroyed