ECONOMYNEXT – Some drought hit families in Sri Lanka are eating one meal a day and indebtedness is rising in drought hit areas, the United Nations has warned as one of the worst droughts in decades have left 1.8 million people suffering in the island.
Agriculture has been devastated in many areas and the government is trucking drinking water. Rice production, which is water intensive, is expected to be halve this year along with many other crops with many reservoirs dry.
"As a result, many households have had to limit their food intake, in some cases eating just one meal a day," a UN disaster update said.
"The inability of farmers to cultivate their land has also caused the availability of agricultural work to decline and consequently in many drought-affected communities, indebtedness is rising."
The opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna warned in parliament that families who have already pawned their jewellery are now resorting to pawning agricultural equipment like water pumps to survive.
Sri Lanka’s relief efforts are struggling to cope.
Cultivators have been promised 10,000 rupees an acre, but legislators have complained that 1350 is being deducted for insurance.
Dry rations worth 5,000 rupees per family is being distributed by the state.
With agricultural incomes wiped out, persons engaged in other economic activities, who depended on sales to the farming community, are also suffering.
Sri Lanka’s Moneragala district, Kurunegala and former war-torn areas in the North have been worst hit by an ongoing drought, official data shows, as 1.8 million people of the 20 million person country struggle with shortages of food and water.
In Kurunegala in the North Central Province, a densely populated, fast growing area 256,542 persons from 78,016 families have been hit. Neighbouring Puttalam has seen 218,016 persons from 68,786 families have been hit.
A total of 474,558 people are suffering in the North Central Province, data from the state Disaster Management Office showed.
In the former war torn Northern Province, where finances of many families have been hit by years of war and houses destroyed, 446,128 persons have been hit.
In Jaffna 122,151 persons from 33,570 families have been hit, in neighbouring Mullativu 115,308 persons have been hit and Vavuniya 101,914 have been involved. In Mannar 115,932 people from 32,548 families are caught in the drought.
In Uva, a landlocked area, which has some of the highest poverty rates in the island 408,083 persons have been hit.
In Moneragala, 391,468 persons from 104,839 families have been hit by the drought. In neighbouring Badulla where 16,615 from 5,301 families have been hit.
In other key rice growing areas such as Anurahdapura, 67,423 persons from 20,481 families are hit and in neighbouring Polonnaruwa 24,099 people from 6,714 families are suffering. (Colombo/Aug30/2017)