Apr 21, Colombo: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says almost 900,000 people in hard-hit areas of Sri
Lanka are faced with serious food insecurity and malnutrition due to the country’s worst drought in 40 years.
According to the WFP Country Brief released for March 2017, the main harvest (Maha) in last month declined by more than half and the secondary harvest (Yala) in September will also be significantly impacted, bringing hardship and suffering, and increasing indebtedness for poor families.
The WFP says it requires USD 7.2 million to provide a package of assistance including emergency cash distributions to start immediately, resilience building activities and innovative monitoring systems to bolster against future shocks. It says urgent funding is required to support the affected communities with an emergency relief package.
The Ministry of Disaster Management has formally requested support from WFP to assist with the drought emergency response.
WFP is planning to support through emergency assistance for 25,000 severely affected people by providing cash-based food assistance in the four most severely drought impacted districts.
The agency will also support asset creation for resilience to help affected communities by increasing existing projects on water harvesting, improvement of irrigation and watershed management and provide technical support to government relief programs through an integrated drought monitoring system that fuses remote monitoring using satellite precipitation data with real time field level data collected.
WFP has obtained initial funding for an Immediate Response Emergency Operation (IR_EMOP) and funding support has been received from the Japanese Association for WFP to initiate the emergency response.
According to WFP, the drought will have a multiplier effect, contributing to increased indebtedness, hydro power generation, the spread of communicable diseases, rice/staple price shocks, amongst other effects.