UN mission warns of worsening food crisis in Sri Lanka

World Wednesday 09/November/2022 10:32 AM
UN mission warns of worsening food crisis in Sri Lanka

Colombo: The United Nations (UN) team in Sri Lanka and non-governmental organisations on Tuesday revised and extended their joint Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) Plan, which aims to provide life-saving assistance to 3.4 million people amid Sri Lanka's worst economic crisis since independence.

Since June, the HNP has been responding to the Government's request for UN-backed multi-sector support for Sri Lanka's debt and food and medicine shortages. "Governments and donor agencies have helped the humanitarian community reach over 1 million of the country's most vulnerable people with cash, food, school meals, medicine, protection, and livelihood support," the UN mission in Sri Lanka said in a statement.

The HNP--aligned with appeals from other UN agencies--has raised $79 million for Sri Lanka thanks to landmark support from several countries and agencies.

The HNP's revision extends the plan through 2022 and requires $70 million in additional funds to reach a total of $149.7 million.
"We are immensely appreciative of the solidarity the international community has shown with the people of Sri Lanka, including through their generous contributions to the HNP. This solidarity must be sustained if we are to insulate the most at-risk people from the impacts of the ongoing crisis," said UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy.

In response to the humanitarian community's updated estimates on the number of people in need across all 25 of Sri Lanka's districts, the extended appeal will improve nutrition for children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers; secure safe drinking water; and protect vulnerable farming and fishing households. Ms. Singer-Hamdy stressed the importance of strengthening local food production and delivery.
"At this point, safeguarding livelihoods is safeguarding lives in Sri Lanka," Ms. Singer-Hamdy said.

Food insecurity in Sri Lanka has increased dramatically due to two consecutive seasons of poor harvests, foreign exchange shortages, and reduced household purchasing power. With a poor harvest season forecast for 2023 and food inflation of 85.6 per cent in October 2022, many Sri Lankans are struggling.

Twenty-eight per cent of the population--or 6.3 million people--face moderate-to-severe acute food insecurity. According to the World Bank's 2022 Development Update, the poverty rate rose from 13.1 percent to 25.6 percent between 2021 and 2022.

The revised HNP complements existing emergency operations carried out by the UN and humanitarian partners. Among its targets are immediate food assistance for 2.4 million vulnerable and food-insecure people; provision of support and fertilizers for 1.5 million farmers and fishers to revive food systems that have been severely disrupted.

The appeal also seeks to provide nutrition support for 2.1 million people, including pregnant women and schoolchildren; safe drinking water for over 900,000 people; and essential medicines and healthcare, including sexual and reproductive healthcare, for 867,000 people.