57-year old Iyappu Jacob has been living in Kunchukulam in Sri Lanka since his birth. He has been engaged in agriculture for over 30 years. He is a very successful farmer and an active member of a farmers organization. He owned 15 acres of paddy land and 75 cattle. Every year, he successfully cultivated paddy and his cattle herd provided him with a steady income. However, this all changed in December last year.
The village of Kunchukulam is located in the Mannar district and borders the Aruvi river. The only way to leave the village and access markets and services is by crossing the river. As the village has fertile soil, supplemented with water availability, agriculture has been a predominant livelihood activity of the villagers. The river banks and adjoining lands are rich of fodder and pasture; offering potential for livestock rearing. Despite of Kunchukulam’s potential agriculture, once a year the Northeast monsoon can bring heavy rainfall and the Aruvi river tends to rise and flood the village.
In December 2014 Kunchukulam experienced one of the heaviest flooding followed by extreme rainfall which prevailed for one week. Since the roads were closed villagers had nothing to eat. Many lost their assets and livelihoods in the water. The whole village was inundated. People had to evacuate their houses and stayed in schools and churches. Their home gardens and backyard livestock were destroyed. In addition, sanitation worsened as water sources, especially drinking water wells, got damaged and due to the flood water they became unusable.
Iyappu Jacob and his family faced many challenges during the floods. They struggled to get daily food. The floods destroyed his ten acres of cultivated paddy and killed his 60 cattle. The loss of his crops and livestock was devastating for Iyappu Jacob as his income source was washed away in days. Jacob and his family are sad and depressed, as they don’t know how to rebuild their lives again.
The floods and landslides of December affect more than 1.1 million people. Over 6,504 houses are reported as fully destroyed and 17,988 houses partially damaged. Much of the infrastructure such as roads, culverts, bridges, and irrigation channels were damaged, cutting off many areas from main access routes. Almost half of all paddy cultivation may have been damaged, leaving people without any assets and income. Many poor families depend on daily labour and they haven't had any work for the past weeks. CARE has distributed dry food rations and relief supplies to people in need. In addition, we support people by providing shelter and construction materials and skilled labour charges for temporary and permanent shelters as well as infrastructure construction. In total, CARE and partners plan to reach 42,400 people.
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