Natural disasters becoming more frequent in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has been the scene of some recent and devastating natural disasters, including Tropical Storm, Ronau, in May 2016. The storm caused catastrophic flooding and mudslides that buried an entire village, Aranayake, in the Kegalle District, killing 96 and resulting in damages of $570 million.
More than 300,000 people were impacted by the flooding and landslides, and the island nation is still in the recovery process. When the storm hit, the nation's officials had trouble getting accurate and timely information regarding local events; no centralized or consistent method to coordinate and provide information existed to support the nation's response and recovery efforts.
Enhancing risk management and disaster mitigation
To improve upon its response and recovery processes, the nation is seeking to install or upgrade appropriate infrastructure in order to enhance mitigation efforts and reduce its risk to disasters and climate change.
To assist with this, Sri Lanka's Disaster Management Center (DMC) is developing a web-based disaster damage and loss reporting system. Once information is entered into the system, it will be uploaded to the Treasury at the Finance Ministry and become a part of the national database. The system will track ongoing issues like road closures or power failures, along with building or infrastructure damages sustained from the disaster.
Once the system is finalized and launched, one district official, or possibly a non-governmental organization member, will be trained to input information. The inputted information will be uploaded into the national database, which will be used to track and allocate appropriate resources for relief efforts, ensure consistent damage assessments and provide a way to accurately account for the injured, dead, or missing.
Recent funding from the World Bank's Climate Resilience Program will cover the $110 million dollar cost of the web-based system.
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Testing to begin in December
The DMC says that the new uniform system will minimize data collection errors, noting that such a uniform tool for reporting will be critical in reducing rising economic costs in a nation that is increasingly being impacted by natural disasters resulting from climate change influences. Estimated economic losses for Sri Lanka are at a combined annual average of $380 million dollars, and are expected to continue rising if actions to reduce risk are not implemented.
The DMC is expecting to launch the program for testing in December.