SRI LANKA: Amidst an ongoing pandemic with the Ukraine-Russia war looming on the other side of the world, in the face of record inflation, skyrocketing fuel prices and widespread commodity food shortages, Sri Lanka confronts a horrifying present. Some 6.3 million people in Sri Lanka face a huge humanitarian crisis as we speak, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Sri Lanka was unable to clear its foreign debts last month and hence ran out of money to access international markets and stock up on foodstuff.
The country’s economic condition is in dire straits: it faces a hyperinflationary 57.4% inflation rate and increasing food costs have rendered it almost impossible for Sri Lankans to put food on the table; nearly 2 out of 5 households consume inadequate diets.
Pregnant women have been at the forefront of risk from malnutrition. The staple Sri Lankan diet of rice and gravy has now become a pricey item. “Pregnant mothers need to eat nutritious meals every day, but the poorest find it harder and harder to afford the basics,” says Anthea Webb, WFP Deputy Regional Director for Asia-Pacific.
In a bid to curb humanitarian fears, the WFP provides the US $40 monthly food vouchers to expecting mothers in the poorest neighbourhoods, alongside antenatal care. India too has 50 metric tons of milk powder at the end of May, with domestic authorities saying that India has already provided the US $3.5 billion in aid.
While Sri Lanka struggles to grow rice to feed the hungry country, other nations in the horn of Africa are also facing harsh food shortages, especially in Ethiopia and Somalia. In Lebanon, two million locals and one million Syrian and Palestinian refugees are surviving on mere bread rationing.