Preparedness Planning Associated with Systemic Risks and Actions during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Sri Lanka

Chandana S. A. Siriwardana, Ravindu Udayantha Jayasekara, Dilanthi Amaratunga, Richard Haigh, Thisara Perera

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


The presence of a hazard does not prevent the occurrence of another hazard. Since hazards can expose the existing vulnerabilities in a community, concurrent hazards can synergize the disaster impacts. Now, climate-related hazards have become unpredictable and extreme, causing severe disruptions all over the world. Therefore, the likelihood of simultaneous hazards and compound events has significantly increased, as well as the potential of biological and natural hazards to overlap.

COVID-19 and concurrent hazards amidst the pandemic have already proven the synergized impacts of compound hazard events. The impacts of hazards such as storms, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, etc., have devastatingly affected vulnerabilities already exposed by COVID-19. It has revealed the challenges associated with multi-hazard threats. It has also emphasized the need to be proactive and to mitigate the impacts of systemic risk cascading from one level to another, rendering the failure of the whole system.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, Sri Lanka experienced heavy rainfall, floods, landslides, etc., in several parts of the country during monsoon seasons, cyclones, and low-pressure conditions. The impacts of the pandemic, such as travel restrictions, fear of infections, social unrest, unemployment, discrimination etc., hindered the response capacities for multi-hazard scenarios. These synergized impacts revealed weaknesses in the country’s existing disaster preparedness measures, such as the lack of accuracy in hazard forecasting and inadequate evacuation shelter facilities.

To better identify the gaps in the existing Disaster Management (DM) mechanism in the country, researchers conducted a study on the preparedness planning associated with integrated, systemic risks at both national and local levels. This brief presents some key findings of the investigation, including recommendations related to early warning and risk communication, evacuation, search and rescue, and shelter management and relief services. These recommendations can benefit stakeholders in the disaster management mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherGlobal Disaster Resilience Centre
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

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