This report is produced by the OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) on behalf of the ISCG. The updates below cover activities carried out between 16 and 29 July 2022 and provide an overview of response activities to meet the needs articulated in the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) Plan.
• Sri Lanka is facing a multidimensional crisis compounded by food insecurity, threatened livelihoods, shortages of vital and essential medicines, and rising protection concerns. The economic crisis is the worst since the country’s independence in 1948.
• It is estimated that 5.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, with 4.9 million being food insecure. A total of 1.7 million are prioritized through the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) Plan, launched on 9 June 2022.
• The HNP Plan calls for US$47.2 million to implement responses to lifesaving priorities between June and September 2022, with a particular emphasis on averting a further deterioration of needs in lifesaving sectors and thus prevent a full-scale humanitarian crisis.
• The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has approved a US$5 million rapid response allocation to address urgent needs on food assistance, basic agricultural and livelihoods support, vital and essential medicines and supplies, child protection, nutrition, safe water and education in priority districts.
• Fuel shortages in Sri Lanka are a major operational constraint for the humanitarian response, as they affect effective programme implementation and monitoring.
People in Need
(as of 4 August 2022)
Sri Lanka continues to experience an unprecedented economic crisis with high inflation, rising commodity prices, power shortages and lack of fuel. The crisis is deepened by a serious reduction in agricultural production caused by a failed agricultural transition. Following heavy shortages of food, fuel, medicines, and other essential items, mass protests broke out in March 2022. On 13 July, the President of Sri Lanka left the country and the Prime Minister, in his capacity as an acting President, declared a state of emergency.
In June, food inflation reached record highs of 75.8 per cent. With less money and high prices for essential food commodities, families’ purchasing power has been greatly reduced. As a result, they have resorted to consuming less diversified and nutritious diets. Needs assessment conducted in nine districts in June revealed that a vast majority of households (85.1 per cent) reported income loss since the economic crisis commenced and 58 per cent of households have lost more than half of their income. Vulnerable groups, such as female-headed households, are disproportionately affected by the crisis. Families are also reportedly using other negative coping mechanisms to get by, such as: 1) selling of belongings; 2) borrowing money; 3) withdrawing from savings, and 4) pawning of belongings.
The loss in income reflects on food intake practices, where 74 per cent of households had to adjust their normal food intake practices. At least 56,000 children under 5 with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are currently in need of ready to eat therapeutic food. Pending results of ongoing nutritional surveys, malnutrition is likely to have worsened and been exacerbated by the suspension of the national nutrition programme since November 2021.
Incidents of sexual and gender-based violence (GBV) are reportedly increasing, while the capacity of government services to respond is severely affected. Service providers lack fuel for field and home visits and are currently working only two days per week. Many women shelters have run out of space, and the police has only limited capacity to review cases, as they are being assigned to monitor fuel stations. In addition, there is a lack of financial support for women and girls at risk of GBV.
The current crisis is impacting the education of children, who were already affected for the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to recent assessments in nine districts, more than half (55 per cent) of the households reported negative impact on children’s education while 33.9 per cent households struggle to support their children to continue education. Children are being affected by a loss of learning and increasing school dropouts, especially among the most disadvantaged without immediate access to online learning, the urban-poor and young children (preschool and primary). Many schools are fully or partially closed, while the fuel shortage continues to limit students and teachers’ ability to go to school.
About 80 per cent of medical supplies in Sri Lanka are imported. Many vital and essential medicines and items both in the public and private sectors are out of stock. At the same time, the price of drugs has increased by 30 per cent around the country. The functionality of the health system is further affected by the fuel crises and frequent power cuts. Water treatment services are also negatively affected due to the lack of testing chemicals and reduced number of waterpumping hours. About 66.8 per cent households in the estate sector do not have access to safe drinking water sources.
There are concerns that financial reform programmes may be delayed until some level of political stability is reached. At the same time, the limited functionality of Government services is impeding humanitarian operations as many agencies are partnering with government counterparts for their programming.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.