Sri Lanka

Active Grants: 3

GDP (current US$): 87.18 billion (2017)

Population: 21.44 million (2017)

Major Partners

 Asian Development Bank, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, European Union, National Building Research Organization, Oxfam, Practical Action, Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, United National Development Programme, UNICEF, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Bank

INFORM Risk Rating: 4.0

Risk data from INFORM, a global open-source risk assessment for humanitarian crises and disasters, uses a scale from 0-10, with 10 as the highest level of risk.

Primary Hazards

For additional information on the natural hazard risk profile, visit ThinkHazard.


Natural Hazard Risk

The most common natural hazards in Sri Lanka include localized and seasonal floods and associated landslides. Less frequent but more severe hazards include cyclones, droughts, and tsunamis; Sri Lanka was one of the worst hit countries by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. According to World Bank estimates, the country’s average annual losses are $380 million, or 3 percent of total government expenditure.

Sri Lanka’s flood risk profile is rising. In the Colombo Metropolitan Region, economic growth and changes in land use are exacerbating flood risk. In 2010, heavy rainfall and flooding affected about 50 percent of the private sector. In May 2016, Tropical Storm Roanu caused flooding and landslides in 22 out of 25 districts. Over 90 people were killed and damages and losses, per the preliminary post-disaster needs assessment, exceed $570 million.

Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and impact of hydro-meteorological hazards. Major flooding in 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2016 exemplifies a 20-year trend.

Government Priorities

The Sri Lanka Disaster Management Act, enacted after the 2004 tsunami, provides the legal basis for the disaster risk management (DRM) system. The act established the National Council for Disaster Risk Management as the lead authority and the Disaster Management Center as the executing agency.

Steps to advance DRM include: strengthening disaster monitoring and early warning systems; improving emergency preparedness and planning; and integrating DRM in land-use and development planning. The National Disaster Management Policy (2013) highlights the need for fiscal resilience and for developing and updating hazard and risk profiles considering climate change.

To further advance the DRM agenda, government priorities include:  

  • Increasing fiscal resilience to climate and disaster risk, including a comprehensive disaster risk financing and insurance strategy;
  • Reducing the risk of flooding by promoting environmentally sustainable growth; and, 
  • Building the geo-hazard and landslide risk management capacities of government agencies and communities to strengthen infrastructure resilience and to ensure safety.
GFDRR progress to date

GFDRR has supported disaster resilience in Sri Lanka since 2008, including: strengthening government capacity to generate and to share risk information; reducing the country’s vulnerability to climate risk; and, developing disaster risk financing.

In 2010, GFDRR supported a post-flood assessment for metropolitan Colombo. In response to the flood and findings from the assessment, the government sought support from GFDRR and the World Bank to address the flood risk in the metropolitan capital of Colombo. A GFDRR-supported hydraulic model and updated rain-pattern analysis of the Colombo Water Basin highlighted the critical role of urban wetlands in reducing flood risk. This work informed and helped leverage a $213 million World Bank project to reduce flooding in Colombo.  

The Open Cities Project launched in 2012. To date, over 130,000 buildings have been mapped on the crowd-sourced OpenStreetMap database for Batticaloa City and Gampaha District. A public disaster risk information platform was launched in 2016, and the data was used to assess real-time flooding impacts that year.

In 2014, a comprehensive climate risk management program was initiated. GFDRR-financed technical assistance informed a $110 million World Bank investment to reduce climate-risk vulnerability and to improve the government’s capacity to respond effectively to disasters. GFDRR has provided ongoing support to this investment through the development of localized flood and landslide risk analysis and mitigation strategies.

As part of the program, GFDRR supported the preparation of a $102 million World Bank development policy loan with a Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat-DDO), a World Bank disaster risk finance instrument that increases fiscal resilience in the aftermath of a disaster.  A GFDRR-supported fiscal disaster risk assessment complemented the Cat-DDO by providing a menu of risk financing options. In 2016, following severe flooding and landslides, the Cat-DDO was triggered to expedite post-disaster recovery.

Further, in 2016, GFDRR launched a regional initiative to develop a community of practice focused on integrating geo-hazard risk management in infrastructure programs. Exchanges have included a South-South Learning workshop in Sri Lanka, focused on geo-hazard risk management in the transport sector.

GFDRR anticipates continued demand for support from the Government of Sri Lanka in: 

  • Advancing the DRFI agenda;
  • Identifying drought risk management interventions in selected drought-prone regions;
  • Strengthening resilient infrastructure planning in the Colombo Metropolitan Region;
  • Expanding the coverage and capacities of national spatial data infrastructure; and,
  • Improving community and institutional geo-hazard risk management. 

Grants Awarded by GFDRR 2007 - Present

Open Data for Resilience Initiative: Tools and Capacity Building
$400,000 08/2018 - 12/2019
Technical assistance to build capacities for scaling up DRM investments in SAR
$500,000 04/2018 - 12/2019
Enhancing Knowledge and Effectiveness of DRM in South Asia
$300,000 04/2018 - 09/2019
Creating enabling environment for disaster risk financing in Sri Lanka
$500,000 04/2018 - 06/2020
DRFI in Sri Lanka
$50,000 02/2018 - 08/2022
City Resilience Program: Program Development and Advisory Services Support
$1,100,000 02/2018 - 07/2019
City Resilience Program: Phase 2
$2,000,000 01/2018 - 05/2019
Sri Lanka: Landslide Vulnerability Assessment
$200,000 11/2017 - 12/2018
Support Risk-Sensitive Infrastructure Planning in Colombo Megapolis Region and Scaling of Spatial Data Platform
$500,000 07/2017 - 01/2019
Enhancing Country Capacity to Develop, Implement and Trigger a CERC in an Emergency
$271,136 07/2017 - 11/2017
Open Data for Resilience Initiative: Tools and Capacity Building
$250,000 06/2017 - 12/2018
Strengthening the Institutional Capacity of the Government of Sri Lanka on Rapid Damage Assessments and Recovery Planning
$175,000 06/2017 - 06/2018
Operationalizing Building Regulation for Resilience Program
$1,000,000 05/2017 - 02/2019
City Resilience Program: Phase 1
$2,404,000 12/2016 - 06/2020
Enhancing financial protection resilience in V20 member countries
$400,000 10/2016 - 03/2019
Sri Lanka: Develop Community Landslides Risk Mitigation Action Plan
$500,000 07/2016 - 08/2017
Sri Lanka: Develop Community Landslides Risk Mitigation Action Plan
$498,617 07/2016 - 08/2017
Building Resilience to Landslide and Geohazard risk in the South Asia Region
$1,000,000 06/2016 - 03/2019
City Strength Diagnostic: Enhancing Urban Resilience
$306,437 04/2016 - 09/2017
Strengthening Global Hydromet System - Investment Support
$1,400,000 08/2015 - 07/2019
Just-in-Time Capacity Building and Advice for Climate Resilience
$3,100,000 01/2015 - 12/2018
Open Data for Resilience Initiative Technology and Capacity Building
$783,991 11/2014 - 09/2017
Code for Resilience 2015
$611,666 11/2014 - 09/2017
SAR Open Data for Resilience
$1,024,513 11/2012 - 10/2017
Support to accelerate implementation of South Asia Regional (SAR) priority country programs
$1,362,651 08/2011 - 12/2017

World Bank Engagements 2012 – Present

Project Description
Sri Lanka Agriculture Sector Modernization Project
$125 million | Start date: 04/2016 (Ongoing)

The development objectives of Agriculture Sector Modernization Project for Sri Lanka are to support increasing agriculture productivity, improving market access, and enhancing value addition of smallholder farmers and agribusinesses in the project areas.

Strategic Cities Development Project- Additional Financing
$55 million | Start date: 04/2016 (Ongoing)

The development objective of the Strategic Cities Development Project (SCDP) is to improve selected urban services and public open spaces in the participating city regions of Sri Lanka.

Climate Resilience Improvement Project Additional Financing
$42 million | Start date: 04/2016 (Ongoing)

The project development objective is to reduce the vulnerability of exposed people and assets to climate risk and to improve the government’s capacity to respond effectively to disasters. The additional financing will help the Government of Sri Lanka to finance the costs associated with the repair and disaster proofing of irrigation, flood control and road infrastructure that were damaged due to extreme rainfall in December 2014.

Sri Lanka Strategic Cities Development Project
$147 million | Start date: 04/2014 (Ongoing )

The project's development objective is to improve selected urban services and public urban spaces in the participating city regions of Sri Lanka.

Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (DPL with DDO)
$102 million | Start date: 04/2014 (Ongoing )

The development objective of the operation is to enhance the capacity of the Government of Sri Lanka to be more resilient to the impacts of natural disasters.

Climate Resilience Improvement Project (CRIP)
$110 million | Start date: 04/2014 (Ongoing)

The project development objective is to reduce the vulnerability of exposed people and assets to climate risk and to improve the government’s capacity to respond effectively to disasters.

LK: Dam Safety Water Resources Planning - Additional Financing
$83 million | Start date: 04/2014 (Ongoing)

The development objectives of the project are to: (i) establish long-term sustainable arrangements for operation and maintenance of large dams; and (ii) improve water resources planning.

Metro Colombo Urban Development
$213 million | Start date: 04/2012 (Ongoing)

The project development objectives are to support the Borrower to (i) reduce flooding in the catchment of the Colombo Water Basin, and (ii) strengthen the capacity of local authorities in the Colombo Metropolitan Area to rehabilitate, improve and maintain local infrastructure and services through selected demonstration investments.