Gender in the Context of Disaster Risk Reduction; A Case Study of a Flood Risk Reduction Project in the Gampaha District in Sri Lanka

Authored by: Kushani De Silva, Ramanie Jayathilaka

Categories: Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: Climate and Environment, Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience (DRRR)
Country: Sri Lanka
Region: South and Central Asia
Year: 2014
Citation: De Silva, Kushani and Ramanie Jayathilaka. "Gender in the Context of Disaster Risk Reduction; A Case Study of a Flood Risk Reduction Project in the Gampaha District in Sri Lanka." Procedia Economics and Finance 18 (2014): 873-881.

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Executive Summary

During the last four decades floods have been the main disaster that affected the highest number of families in Sri Lanka. At present, flood risk reduction is seriously taken into consideration by relevant authorities taking mitigation actions to save lives and properties. Literature on gender and disasters shows the importance of gender in disaster mitigation to bring better results. Thus the present study is an attempt to understand the importance of gender dimension in a flood disaster risk reduction project implemented in Sri Lanka. The study was conducted in two Grama Niladari divisions Pamunuwila and Galedanda in the Gampaha district where the project “cleaning Natha Ela” was implemented during in to address the issue related to floods in the area. The overall objective of the research was to understand, whether gender has been adequately addressed in the project management cycle of the flood risk reduction project and its consequences. The study revealed that women were more vulnerable to the flood disaster compared to men, due to differences in employment status, income, gendered social roles, social norms and restrictions governing behaviour. Even though the communities experienced a significant reduction of flood damages after the project implementation, the impact on the community could have been much greater if the project had considered the gender aspects related to floods. The study thus reinforces the argument that gender planning is vital for any development activity. In the case of cleaning the Natha ela project, gender was neutral from the planning stage to the implementation stage. The low representation of the women in the decision making process also contributed to the lack of gender sensitivity in the project. Thus the study clearly revealed that although disasters affect both men and women, the impact could be different and therefore mitigation efforts need to addresses such differences to make both men and women resilient to flood disaster.