|Life improved for Pakyarani’s family when the war ended, but then the floods came and washed away their hopes.|
Al Jazeera, 29 Jan 2011
Recent flooding in eastern Sri Lanka destroyed thousands of homes, devastated the rice crop and drowned thousands of livestock. A million people, 40 per cent of them children, are at risk of serious hunger as a result. Some of the worst-affected areas were only just recovering from decades of conflict and the tsunami when the floods hit, and the people who live there are facing their third humanitarian emergency in less than 10 years.
Among those at risk of the impending food crisis is Pakyarani, a 32-year-old farmer’s wife and mother of four. She lives with her family in a remote village in Batticaloa, one of the districts most affected by the floods. She tells her story:
“I live with my husband, Ravicandran, and my four children: Ravikumar is 13, Nivedika is eight, Rujanika is six and Mohana is two.
We own a paddy field and that is the main source of income for our family. My husband also works as a brick-maker and sometimes as a daily labourer. For many years our village was caught up in the war and we often had to run from shelling and hide in the ditch for safety. Once, during the shelling, my husband fell and broke his leg. We were not able to get proper treatment and he has not been able to work properly since.
After the war ended, things got better for us. We were able to start growing crops and we bought two cows. Although some people in our village moved into brick houses, we didn’t. We stayed in our two-roomed clay hut until earlier this month, when the floods came.