Up to 6.3 million people face food insecurity in Sri Lanka: WFP

As Sri Lanka goes through its worst economic crisis since independence, 6.3 million people are food insecure and 6.7 million people are not consuming adequate diets, a Situation Report for August by the World Food Programme (WFP) said.

“Up to 6.3 million people are food-insecure, based on WFP and FAO’s Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission. These numbers could mount even further without urgent intervention,” the statement said.

WFP’s economic crisis response aims to reach a total of 3.4 million people across three main activities:  unconditional food assistance through cash or in-kind, school meals and nutritional support.

Sri Lanka’s inflation for the month of August accelerated to 64.3 percent and food prices have risen by 93.7 percent after excess money printing that led to exceeding inflation.

WFP has secured 1,475 metric tons of rice and 755 metric tons of iron-fortified rice to support 1 million children with school meals for a span of three months.

In August and for November 2022 WFP has 24,440 metric tons of food currently in the pipeline, with 79 metric tons of vegetable oil already in storage and 2,075 metric tons in transit, including rice, iron fortified rice, vegetable oil, and yellow split peas.

As per the statement, WFP has received 21.35 million US dollars from the governments of Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland, as well as from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund, private sector partners, and multilateral donors, which represents 34 percent of its emergency appeal for 63 million dollars.

Monthly telephone surveys are conducted covering all nine provinces across estate, urban, and rural settings. The surveys gather data on household food security, nutrition, access to food, markets, livelihoods, and debt, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told reporters this week that Sri Lanka might see a minor rice shortage in December which will be contained.

However, the WFP statement said food and nutrition security is expected to deteriorate further during the upcoming lean season, between October 2022 and February 2023, if the country is unable to import adequate amounts of rice and other food products to cover its food deficit. 

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