June 13, 2016
Nearly 200 people are found dead or missing in Sri Lanka as a result of the torrential rain that started around May 14. Massive floods and landslides have affected more than 400,000 of the country's people. JICA is currently providing the Sri Lankan government assistance that includes emergency relief supplies and the dispatch of study team.
Minister of Disaster Management visits Tokyo and Shizuoka
Immediately prior to the recent disaster, Hon. Minister of Disaster Management, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa visited Japan along with four other officials working in the disaster risk reduction sector (Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management, Director General of the Department of Meteorology, Director General of the Disaster Management Center, and Director General of the National Building Research Organization). The team visited at the invitation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and toured between May 9 and May 14.
The trip to Japan helped Hon. Minister Yapa and his group to gain a better understanding of the Japanese government's disaster risk reduction initiatives through the visits to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the Japan Meteorological Agency, and JICA headquarters. It also reinforced the importance of strengthening disaster risk reduction capacity in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction adopted as a result of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in March 2015 in Sendai.
The group also inspected the weather radar system at Haneda Airport and the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park in order to gain insight on their potential implementation in Sri Lanka, as the country is expected to introduce similar equipment and facilities in the future. A tour to the structures designed to prevent sediment disasters and other disaster countermeasures along the Shin-Tomei Expressway allowed everyone of the team to clearly picture the ideal outcomes of Landslide Disaster Protection Project of the National Road and Technical Cooperation for Landslide Mitigation Project currently underway in Sri Lanka.
In addition, Hon. Minister Yapa and his team were able to deepen their understanding on Japan's technologies and experience in the field of disaster risk reduction. The trip helped to further strengthen the cooperative relationship between the two countries' in building disaster risk reduction capacity in Sri Lanka.
Japan offers assistance after widespread flooding and landsides
A low air pressure that developed way across Sri Lanka from the southeast to the north-northeast around May 14 resulted in continuous torrential rains across the nation. There was a continuous severe rainfall on 15th May , which triggered rock falls in mountainous areas and initiating floods along certain rivers including suburbs of Colombo. The damage increased further on the following day, resulting in a major landside occurrence at Aranayake in Kegalle district. Until the low air pressure passed the offshore, it continued to result in more rain in the country. The flooded area spread further when the water, accumulated during the spring tides (those higher than normal around the time of the full moon), was prevented from flowing back into the ocean.
Recognizing the situation, JICA and the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka communicated with the Sri Lankan government about the progress of their disaster response activities. The Japanese government also responded to Sri Lanka's request for aid for disaster victims in the form of emergency relief supplies with the decision to send items such as blankets, tarpaulins, foldable polyester tanks, and etc; H.E. Kenichi Suganuma, Ambassador of Japan, handed the items over to the Minister of Disaster Management on the morning of May 21.
Sharing the lessons learned in Japan with the Sri Lankan society
Mr. Kimio Takeya, Distinguished Technical Advisor to the President at JICA who presented the initiatives of the Japanese government and JICA on Disaster Risk Reduction efforts to the Sri Lankan dignitaries during their trip to Japan, was sent to the disasters sites on May 21. The following day, he exchanged his views entitled "Build Back Better" with the Minister of Disaster Management, Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management, Director General of the Department of Meteorology, Director General of the Disaster Management Center, and Director General of the National Building Research Organization. Mr. Takeya's presentation emphasized the importance of restoration and recovery efforts after a disaster and also introduced about the future policies using case examples from Thailand and the Philippines.
Later that day, Mr. Takeya and his team surveyed the disaster affected area from the air via helicopter. They checked the situation along the Kelani river basin and Aranayake, where landslides were occurred.
Japan intends to continue assisting towards the Disaster Management sector in Sri Lanka through the ongoing projects including the Technical Cooperation for Landslide Mitigation Project, the Project for Improving of Meteorological Observation, Weather Forecasting and Dissemination, and the Capacity Development Project for Creating Digital Elevation Model Enabling Disaster Resilience.
Japan also plans to coordinate with the agencies related to disaster management as well as to explore possible forms of cooperation with the Ministry of Disaster Management and the Disaster Management Center. These are the main organizations which are currently taking steps to reduce the risks associated with future disaster events.
JICA Distinguished Technical Advisor Kimio Takeya gives a presentation to the Minister and other officials
Touring a site along the Shin-Tomei Expressway
The Minister and his group in the Experience Center at the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park
Surveying the damage via helicopter (assessing the overall situation from the air, including the risk of secondary disaster)
JICA Distinguished Technical Advisor Kimio Takeya advises the Minister of Disaster Management and other key parties on restoration and recovery policy based on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction