This survey of the parlous socio-economic situation in Sri Lanka by the UN agencies located within the island is a long and complicated document …with several graphs and diagrams. So Thuppahi will present only a small part and provide the web link at the end. The internet filewas kindly converted for me by Dinu Jayasuriya of Rooleo Studios in Adelaide….. Note that the highlighting within the document is NOT my work, but that internal to the UN presentation.
A vendor at a wholesale produce centre is running out of customers and produce….. Photo: © UN Sri Lanka
Foreword by the United Nations Resident Coordinator
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence. Concurrent challenges in public finance and sovereign debt, as well as the availability and affordability of food, fuels, fertilizers, and medicines, have disrupted livelihoods across the country. As a result, around 5.7 million women, men, girls and boys are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
I am particularly concerned by an unfolding multidimensional food security crisis in which many families are unable to afford basic food commodities. Surveys indicate that up to 70 per cent of households have had to reduce food consumption, including by skipping meals, as food prices have reportedly increased by 73 per cent in the last two years.
Livelihoods and incomes have come under serious pressure due to the impact of the crisis on small enterprises, affecting mostly women and daily income wage workers. As a result, many households have exhausted coping strategies and are now borrowing money and selling properties and belongings just so families can get by from day to day.
Sri Lanka prided itself on a robust free healthcare system, that outperformed others in its income group and the region, but it is now running out of vital and essential medicines and surgical items. Protection concerns have also increased due to economic stresses or livelihood losses, including gender-based violence (GBV) and child protection, particularly among the most vulnerable affected families.
Children are particularly affected by the crisis, with reduction in feeding programmes as well as new disruptions to learning coming in the wake of COVID-19 induced school closures. Without going to school, these children will lose their chances of having a better tomorrow and will risk exposure to violence, early marriage and child labor.
Acting swiftly on the request of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for multi-sectoral international assistance, I worked with other UN agencies and the Humanitarian Country Team to develop this Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) Plan. As a humanitarian community, we recognize that we must act immediately to save lives through the provision of support to those who need it the most. Livelihoods are under threat; if we do not act quickly, many more people will not be able to meet their basic needs.
Of the 5.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, the HNP is targeting 1.7 million of the most vulnerable, requesting a total of US$47.2 million. Of these, $34.5 million will be used to address immediate food and nutrition needs and protect and diversify livelihoods. Another $8 million will be dedicated to the provision of vital and essential medicines, medical supplies, and devices to help save lives. And with $4.7 million humanitarian partners will support essential protection activities, including protection from GBV, child protection and the much-needed support to keeping children in school.
Beyond the immediate crisis, we must recognize that there are systemic root causes to this situation including those linked to governance and human rights. These need to be addressed in the long term, including as part of the broader effort to redouble progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that the United Nations Country Team is supporting.
Now is the time for the international community to show solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. The UN and humanitarian partners are calling on donors to urgently come forward and support this plan to provide life- saving assistance to the women, men, and children most affected by the crisis and thus prevent a deterioration of humanitarian needs in the country.
I thank in advance for your generosity in supporting the people of Sri Lanka at this hour of need.
Sincerely, Hanaa Singer Hamdy Resident Coordinator United Nations in Sri Lanka