World Food Programme (WFP), in its Country Brief for January 2023, notes that food insecurity remains at concerning levels in the face of Sri Lanka’s economic crisis.
However, as per the latest Household Food Security Survey for December 2022, 33% of households in Sri Lanka are food insecure, a decline from 37% in November, the document read further.
The organization says 68% of households are resorting to negative food-based coping strategies such as consuming less preferred food, limiting portion sizes and/or reducing the number of meals.
The WFP says, in tandem with the Sri Lankan government, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and WFP, a joint Food Security Assessment (CFSAM) would be conducted in early March, targeting 15,000 households from 25 districts. This is a follow-up to the CFSAM conducted in May 2022.
The report further noted that markets remain functional and currently have a wide range of products, adequate physical availability of essential goods and a resilient supply chain, despite the markets reporting concerns around price volatility in December last year as per the WFP’s December Market Functional Index.
With regards to its emergency responses to Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, WFP mentioned its plans to assist 3.4 million people through general food distribution, school meals and nutrition support.
Since the start of emergency operations in June 2022, WFP has reached 489,040 people with cash assistance and 362,100 with in-kind food assistance. This is a result of WFP’s response scale-up aimed at reaching 1.4 million people through unconditional food assistance (cash or in-kind).
As of January 2023, WFP had distributed rice to 7,593 schools, reaching 1,050,714 children. WFP surpassed its plan to support 1 million children with school meals through the Government’s national school meals programme in 2022.
According to the World Food Program, 6.3 million people, or over 30 percent of Sri Lanka’s population, are “food insecure” and require humanitarian assistance.
Of these, around 5.3 million people are either reducing meals or skipping meals, and at least 65,600 people are severely food insecure.
According to a study by Save the Children in June 2022, 59% of families reported not being able to meet all their food needs fully.
In addition, two in three respondents noted that their households had to rely on less preferred or less expensive foods at least once a week before the survey.
The report stated: “Over half of all children had to eat less preferred food and children had to reduce their quantity of food intake.