Making communities resilient in the island’s hill country

Posted on Monday, April 4th, 2016

04/04/2016 – Badulla, Sri Lanka: The Sri Lanka Red Cross Society’s (SLRCS) Badulla Branch has been working with several communities within the district in order to ensure their capacity of facing future disasters are met.

In 2014, due to heavy rains the district of Badulla faced severe landslides. In the same year 16 people were killed from a massive landslide in Meeriyabadda, Koslanda. SLRCS is currently working with communities to provide them with permanent housing and support, by providing information to communities as to what action they need to take in future disasters.

Nilanthi Pushpalatha from Sohona Handiya in the Badulla district remembers this grim period very vividly.

“It was raining for days and our house was located on the foot of a hill. We have been there for many years, we never thought the hill would cave in and come over our house”

Nilanthi is one of the victims of a landslide in the Badulla district. She lost her husband and her only son to the landslide. They were buried alive. She and her daughter managed to escape and save their lives.

“I couldn’t fathom as to what happened to my family” says Nilanthi. “I am grateful that at least my daughter managed to save her life, however an important part of my life is gone.. my son and my husband”

The SLRCS Badulla Branch soon after the incident has been working with authorities to provide permanent and safe housing for victims of disasters. The branch took steps to provide cash grants to beneficiaries who lost everything in order to rebuild their homes.

Initially the SLRCS working closely with officials from the National Building Research Organization (NBRO) in order to identify a safe location for them to rebuild their houses. Once they have certified a piece of land that is deemed fit for construction then the Red Cross works with the Government Agent’s office to get the necessary legal permissions to ensure that the land is handed over to the beneficiary to build their house. Then the beneficiary enter into a partnership with the Red Cross where  a cash grant of 350,000/- LKR is provided in several stages.

“The house is build through an owner driven process where the beneficiary has all the right to change and modify the house they live as the way he or she wants” says Ranjith Liyanage the Branch Executive Officer of SLRCS Badulla Branch.  “The Red Cross provides the basic framework of standards that all beneficiaries needs to meet during construction”.

“The Red Cross indeed has given a lifeline to my family” says Nilanthi. Not only did they give us financial support to build this house but also educated us on how to act if there is a landslide like this in the future”

The Red Cross has been supporting to build 65 such houses in the Badulla, Monaragala and Anuradhapura districts where people fell victims to landslides and floods. The funding support for this project comes from the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies.