Spanish Red Cross funds disaster preparedness project here

The Spanish Red Cross Society-sponsored disaster preparedness project, for the benefit of the people in 8 identified districts is now underway. This is the direct outcome of the long standing friendly relations the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) had with the Spanish Red Cross (SRCS) Euro 400,000 (Rs. 22.8 million) funds received from the European Commission Humanitarian Organization (ECHO) under a trilateral agreement among SLRCS, SRCS and ECHO is utilized for the implementation of this project. The Spanish Red Cross representative, the disaster preparedness delegate Mr. David Ito works with a team of experts, D/P trained Red Cross volunteers and all actors involved to achieve the overall project objective of preventing the devastating effects of frequent floods in the country by strengthening the capacities of the most vulnerable communities to cope with the natural disasters, SLRCS said.

The most severely flood-ravaged districts of Sri Lanka have been selected, based on the data of floods of recent years and on the SLRCS knowledge. Ratnapura, Galle, Kalutara, Colombo, Puttalam, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Polonnaruwa are among the districts targeted under this operation and were selected for the frequency of floods, the level vulnerability of the people in facing the flood situations. During the course of the operation, the capacities, skills and resources of the vulnerable communities will be developed for them to take charge of their lives at a later stage, it said in a statement.

The Spanish Red Cross Society has experience in working together with the SLRCs. In December, 2000 when the Cyclone brought death and destruction to the people of Eastern coast of Sri Lanka, the prompt assistance was brought by the SRCS. SRCS also helped the drought-stricken at Hambantota.

At present, Spanish Red Cross is running a development progremme with the SLRCS to enhance the financial capacity of Matale and Ratnapura district Red Cross branches. On a self-help basis and participatory approach, through sustainable youth development programme, the project mainly focuses to provide vocational training and self employment. Through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, ECHO funded a relief operation to mitigate the effects of floods of 1999 with the distribution of essential relief items and water supplies. A Community based Disaster Preparedness Workshop was also funded by ECHO during the month of May 1999, the statement said.