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Found boy sat with Islamic Relief Ramadan food parcel

Sri Lanka

After 30 years of brutal civil war, the loss of 60,000 lives, and the destruction of infrastructure across northern and eastern regions, Sri Lanka has been focussing its efforts on economic development and political stability. With less development in the north of the country, large socio-economic inequalities remain. In addition, whilst natural disasters also continue to threaten communities across the country. We’re working to provide emergency and livelihood support to help people recover from disasters.

On 26th December 2004, Sri Lanka was struck by one of the worst natural disasters of the century. An undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean created a powerful tsunami that killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed houses, local infrastructure, and the natural ecosystem. Many of those who survived found that they lost their means of livelihood.

Sri Lanka remains vulnerable to tsunamis, droughts, and floods, but also faces high levels of food insecurity. 1.2 million people are suffering the effects of drought and around a third of the population – roughly 7 million Sri Lankans – cannot afford an adequately nutritious diet.

The situation in Sri Lanka

Many communities in Sri Lanka are living in deep poverty after after 30 years of brutal civil war and frequent natural disasters.


of the population live below the national poverty line (Asian Development Bank, 2012)

1 in 5

young people are unemployed – including over 1 in 4 young women (ILO, 2017)


of the population are malnourished (World Food Programme, 2017)

Islamic Relief in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is considered a disaster-prone country due to its geographical location and susceptibility to various natural hazards. The island nation frequently experiences a range of disasters, including floods, landslides, cyclones, and droughts. Islamic Relief began working in Sri Lanka in response to the 2004 tsunami, focusing on Ampara, one of the worst affected districts. We provided emergency food to survivors as an initial emergency response. Within 2 years, we began boosting the resilience of vulnerable communities.

In 2006, we launched our one-to-one orphan sponsorship programme in Sri Lanka, supporting 45 children through the scheme, which is now a lifeline to 1,400 orphaned children. The programme provides the families of orphaned children with a regular stipend toward their healthcare expenses, educational needs, and essential items. 

In recent years, Islamic Relief Sri Lanka expanded operations to 5 districts implementing projects in education, water, sanitation and hygiene, food security, livelihoods, and child welfare.

Islamic Relief has assisted more than 1,000 households by providing them with pipe-borne water supply connections, has constructed water purification plants in 6 villages, and has built latrines for 450 families. 

Islamic Relief in action

Sri Lanka suffered a devastating tsunami in December 2004, which destroyed homes, schools and other vital infrastructure. Islamic Relief’s initial response was distributing food to survivors. Within months we built our first school in Ampara, eastern Sri Lanka, the worst affected area. In addition, we reconstructed schools, provided emergency shelters, and built a total of 220 apartments, providing permanent housing assistance to the impacted individuals and families. We also started a cash-for-work scheme to build shelters for those displaced. 

With funding from the UK government’s international development office, now known as the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), we constructed 900 temporary shelters. These served survivors in the villages of Kalmunai, Sainthamanaihu, Karativu, Ninthavur, Addalachchenai and Akkaraipattu.

Image: School children raise their hands as part of Islamic Relief's project to improve children's education.

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