The World Food Program warned the ongoing economic crisis and political turmoil have pushed food price inflation to above 90 percent, with a shortage of fuel disrupting access, livelihoods, and food safety programs, leaving millions vulnerable to food insecurity.
The World Food Program said that three in 10 Sri Lankans are food insecure amid the country’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under five, and people with disabilities are among the worst affected.
It added that the flagship Thriposha nutritional support program for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children are stalled. Coupled with income losses and inflation, this could lead to higher rates of malnutrition for women and their children.
Even before the ongoing crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lankan women and children suffered from far higher rates of malnutrition than most other middle-income countries: 17 percent of children under 5 were too short for their age and 15 percent were too thin for their height, a figure which is considered ‘very high’ in WHO classification.
Indu Abeyratne, Activity Manager with WFP Sri Lanka, who is closely engaged with the roll-out of the emergency response said “Focusing on vulnerable populations and communities is a priority to avert a humanitarian crisis.”
WFP will reach out to almost 1.5 million people needing emergency food assistance through food, cash, or vouchers.
Nearly 6.3 million people are food insecure and in need of assistance. WFP’s recent surveys indicated that 61 percent of families are resorting to at least one coping mechanism, including eating less, eating less nutritious food, and even skipping meals altogether.