January brought heavy rains to the North of Sri Lanka and although the weather impacted demining activities, FSD staff volunteered to help erect shelters for vulnerable families.
Diverging from normal seasonal patterns, rainfall intensified in early January with widespread devastation in the East of the country. In the north, too the rain caused extensive flooding, damage to crops and displaced communities from low lying areas. FSD demining teams were unable to work for many days but instead supported the UNOPS shelter initiative in several villages in Mullaitivu District.
So far this year 55 such houses have been built by FSD, with a focus on the most vulnerable community members such as single female headed households. In Gigrapuram village, for example, the newly resettled families now have sufficient shelters to protect them from the next wet season and FSD staff will continue to support shelter construction in other villages either in their spare time or during rainy days when demining cannot take place due to safety reasons. “We will continue shelter construction assistance in our spare time,” says Raju Pillai, FSD Technical Adviser and project manager for this initiative: “These communities deserve all the help they can get,” he adds.
FSD teams found and removed 20,000 mines from villages such as Gigrapuram during 2010, facilitating the return of over 54,000 IDPs. In 2011, FSD will focus on reducing the risk of mines and UXO accidents to the returnees and improving the lives of those most in need.