In the wake of the 2004 tsunami, HI set up rehabilitation centres on the island to treat the survivors. These centres also benefited victims of the civil war that ravaged the country from 1983 to 2009.
Artificial limb fitting, Sri Lanka - HI | © HI
Actions in process
HI's teams took rapid and effective action immediately after the 2004 tsunami hit Sri Lanka. The organisation, which has been working in the country since 1992, provides support to vulnerable people (people with disabilities, older people, and so on) through inclusive employment and community involvement projects.
Following the flooding in North-East Sri Lanka in December 2015 and January 2016, HI offered assistance to affected households in the worst-hit districts (Batticaloa, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu). After the disaster, the most vulnerable households found themselves in an extremely precarious situation. HI distributed food and shelters to flood victims.
HI is currently helping to reduce poverty in Uva Province and central provinces by supporting the occupational projects of young entrepreneurs (especially small-scale vegetable and flower growers) to increase their income. HI also trains civil society organisations to provide employment opportunities for the most vulnerable people (disabled people, older people and so on).
Furthermore, the organisation promotes the participation in society of women with and without disabilities, including by organising training on women’s rights, equality and reconciliation, to help them build peace in their communities and feel more integrated.
HI also treats disabled children with clubfoot using the Ponseti method. HI raises community awareness of this issue and strengthens the early detection of disability.
Situation of the country
Sri Lanka was already ravaged by armed conflict when the tsunami hit its coast in 2004. The disaster caused the loss of more than 40,000 lives and led to the displacement of over 500,000 people, in addition to the 390,000 persons already displaced by the conflict. The combination of the tsunami and the armed conflict increased the vulnerability of people with disabilities in the country.
The war which consumed the north of the country lasted for nearly 30 years (1983 - 2009) and caused more than 60,000 deaths. Thousands of people were injured, of whom many were left with disabilities and many sustained their injuries from shells or anti-personnel landmines. Some 390,000 people were displaced by the conflict during the civil war.
Sri Lanka’s wounds are slowly healing and the reconstruction process is still ongoing, helped by the country’s flourishing economy, and the rapid development of its infrastructure and services. Nevertheless, there is still a significant risk of natural disasters, including flooding, drought, landslides and cyclones, all of which frequently affect the island. The 2004 tsunami caused widespread physical and social damage. The disaster killed more than 40,000 people and left over 250,000 homeless. In recent years, flooding forced more than 400,000 to flee their homes in 2008 and a further 300,000 in 2010.