Children most at risk from Sri Lanka's economic and political crisis, warns World Vision
World Vision is deeply concerned about children who are the silent sufferers of the current socio-political and economic crisis in Sri Lanka, compounded by the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and a terrorist attack that has severely crippled the country.
Sri Lanka is facing a multi-dimensional national crisis. Livelihoods have been severely affected by the shortage of fuel and the regular fuel price hikes. Due to a reduction in the production of agricultural goods, basic food items have either become unavailable or unaffordable to most Sri Lankans. The situation is worse with key imported commodities like wheat flour, canned fish, milk powder, and lentils which, when available, are priced exorbitantly. Families around the island have resorted to having fewer meals and are limiting their portion sizes significantly.
“The citizens are tired and frustrated by the unbearable economic burden, and there is another group that is suffering immensely; these are our children,” says Dr. Dhanan Senathirajah, National Director, World Vision Lanka.
Within three short years, the country suffered the Easter Bombings of 2019, followed by the pandemic, and is now struggling with the worst economic crisis that the country has faced in over 70 years. Inflation rates have sharply risen to over 54% as of June 30, 2022.
The current crisis has spiraled into massive protests and insurgency by the public across the country, condemning the government’s handling of the economic situation in the country and demanding the President’s resignation.
“This crisis has a direct and deep impact on the children. Children are the most adversely affected, as in every crisis. Skyrocketing prices mean that even basic meals are no longer affordable to many and disruptions in the community include school closures. . These will have a long-term impact on children’s well-being and development. It’s simply heartbreaking,” Dr. Senathirajah said.
Medical services which include hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies have been severely affected by the lack of essential medication. Daily power outages across the country have plagued its people for many months. The population continues to feel the brunt of the economic and food crisis that seems to have no end in the near future. The people of Sri Lanka have lost their trust in the leaders of the country and are more desperate to leave the country in order to help their families out of this economic crisis.
Now, more than ever, our children need our help.
Despite supporting the communities that are affected by the economic crisis, World Vision’s staff are similarly affected by it as well due to the rising price hikes and the shortages in essential goods and services. There is a significantly larger burden on the World Vision staff that works in the field as they have the responsibility of attending to the needs of the vulnerable communities as well as their own families with the limited resources available. World Vision Lanka is taking efforts to support the staff that works in all parts of the island helping the communities to mitigate the larger impact of this economic crisis.
World Vision remains deeply committed to the children and people of Sri Lanka during these difficult times. In spite of our staff and our own operations facing severe restrictions due to the prevailing situation, we are on the ground to provide humanitarian aid and offer psychosocial support to children and their families. We pray for political stability, economic revival, and the restoration of the nation.
World Vision has initiated a response focusing on 500,000 of the most vulnerable individuals in the communities it serves. The response, focusing on food security, livelihood recovery, and psychosocial support for families, spans 28 World Vision programme locations in the country and includes a mid-day meal programme for over 5,600 preschool and school children. More than 2,000 economically vulnerable families have been provided with dry rations and over 100 children, with school supplies.
World Vision has been serving vulnerable children and communities in Sri Lanka since 1977, directly impacting nearly 100,000 children and their families in 2022 alone. We have responded to almost every disaster the country has faced since and currently support children, their families, and communities in 13 Districts through our long-term development and rehabilitation programmes.