Island, the - Upali Newspapers (PVT) LTD
By Kanchana Wickramasinghe
With the arrival of monsoon rains, Sri Lanka is just seeing the end of the drought that impaired many parts of the country. However, its negative effects continue to be felt by the affected communities.
Unfortunately, droughts are not the only natural disaster Sri Lanka has seen in the recent past; the country has been wrecked by a series of floods and landslides alternatively, during the past few years, while Sri Lanka is at risk for such calamities in the future too. The economic costs of these climate-induced natural disasters are immense, and the government spends significant amount of funds on disaster relief activities alone. The Ministry of Disaster Management provided more than Rs. 117 million to district secretariats just for the disasters that occurred in 2016. Additionally, the Ministry of Defense has spent around Rs. 60 million for immediate search, rescue and relief operations. As such, an efficient and effective approach to build resilience to disasters is both vital and urgent.
Resilient development should synergize DRR and climate adaptation at the national level. A collaborative mechanism should be in place to coordinate the actions taken under DRR and climate adaptation. DRR should not be a standalone sector in the overall development framework of Sri Lanka. Currently, there are signs of mainstreaming the important aspects into sectoral policies and plans.
DRR aspects should be further strengthened using both physical measures and socio-economic instruments. Meaningful involvement of stakeholders, including the local communities, is a must in designing such interventions. Proper attention should be paid towards the implementation of necessary measures, based on the recovery needs identified by the PDNA and other policy documents. Enhancing the social protection system to address the medium and long-term recovery needs should be an important element in this regard. To this end, the implementation of an effective disaster insurance mechanism to cover vulnerable sectors has been highlighted by both international initiatives and national policy documents.