Disaster Risk Reduction, Climate Change, and Migration

IOM’s Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) framework for Sri Lanka adopts a ‘3Cs’ approach:
Community resilience,
Capacity building, and

IOM provides comprehensive services at the institutional level that enables stakeholders to reduce disaster risk. At the community level, IOM promotes knowledge sharing, structural development and direct beneficiary level assistance.

Disaster risk is a key consideration when designing and implementing other programming, to ensure that it builds resilience and recognizes local level vulnerabilities. This is especially significant given that that the impact of disasters can cause both short and long term security, socioeconomic and physical shifts which may influence migration-related decisions. IOM supports the Ministry of Disaster Management in the implementation of the Sri Lanka Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme for 2014-2018.

IOM Sri Lanka’s DRR activities include the provision of disaster-sensitive infrastructure such as the construction and renovation of minor irrigation tanks, channel networks, bunds and roads, as well as the construction of paddy storage facilities, agro wells and salt water exclusion bunds which minimize the intensity of the damage caused by flooding and drought. IOM also invests in supporting home gardening through the provision of training on flood and drought resistant seeds to farmers and households to ensure food security at the community level. 

In Sri Lanka, the impact of climate change on food security is of high concern; therefore it is particularly relevant to projects revolving around agricultural livelihoods as well as general community development. In line with the National Environment Policy, IOM integrates green energy approaches into its programming by building on earlier work such as the promotion of solar power for disaster-affected communities which brought light via solar lamps to hundreds of families enabling adults to work, children to study and women to safely wash after nightfall. This ensures that emergency response projects meet the immediate needs of affected populations, while not causing further damage to already vulnerable areas.

Though IOM’s priority focus is on reducing risk to disasters, IOM’s pre-positioning for emergency situations continues to ensure the capacity to respond quickly to improve the shelter, water, and hygiene conditions of affected populations by supplying essential non-food items within 48 hours from the occurrence of a disaster. IOM’s extensive local knowledge and relationships in the field allows it to not only respond in a timely manner, but to also have an understanding of what special requirements or challenges may need to be considered to meet the needs of the most vulnerable affected groups. In the up-coming strategic period, DRR-oriented interventions will continue in the northern districts of Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya and Mannar and will expand into the Batticaloa district in the East. Batticaloa is one of the most disaster prone districts in Sri Lanka and annually suffers from serious damage to agriculture and livestock farming as a result of recurring flooding. Abandoned tanks, poor maintenance of drainage and soil erosion intensify the level of damage floods can have on local livelihoods.

In response to this trend, IOM plans to address key priority needs as identified in the district development plan by improving drainage networks and storm water channels to mitigate the negative effects of flooding on farming communities. Disaster proofing and rehabilitation of key public infrastructure, including schools, is being promoted. These actions will be enhanced by an understanding of the effects of local level environmental management on hazard risk, for example, promoting the responsible disposal of waste to ensure that drainage networks are kept clear. IOM also works to collect information on how disaster risk and the impacts of climate change can influence migration patterns.