Humanitarian Action for Children 2022 – Sri Lanka – Sri Lanka



  • Children are disproportionately affected by the rapidly unfolding economic crisis in Sri Lanka. Rising food and fuel prices, as well as frequent power cuts and shortages of life-saving medicines, particularly affect the poorest and most marginalized.

  • More than 5.7 million people, including 2.3 million children, need humanitarian assistance. Sri Lanka is among the ten countries with the highest number of malnourished children and this number is expected to increase further. Essential health and WASH services have been severely impacted by stock-outs of essential commodities, and access to education and child protection services is severely limited. The loss and precariousness of income means that children are exposed to violence and stress, and the increase in absenteeism/school drop-out due to the current crisis could further increase these risks. Moreover, more and more families are seeking the institutionalization of their children in the face of worsening poverty.

  • In line with the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action and the Inter-Agency Plan on Humanitarian Needs and Priorities for Sri Lanka, UNICEF requires $25.3 million to meet the critical needs of the most vulnerable children. vulnerable and marginalized people and their families by ensuring continued access to essential services. and support.


  • Children are disproportionately affected by the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. The simultaneous challenges of rising public debt and budget deficit have impacted the availability and affordability of essential commodities such as food, fuel, fertilizers and medicines. These in turn have disrupted livelihoods and reduced household incomes across the country. As a result, around 5.7 million people, including 2.3 million children, are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Sri Lanka’s food production and harvests are expected to fall by at least 40-50% in the coming months, which will cause the situation to deteriorate further. Families are already struggling to get food, with 70% of households reporting a reduction in their food consumption. Sri Lanka ranks second in South Asia in terms of wasting among children under five. Stopping distribution of free complementary foods for malnourished children and hesitant provision of nutritious school meals will result in more children suffering from acute malnutrition.

  • The alarming food security and nutrition situation in Sri Lanka is further threatened by a reduction in the availability of potable water, which increases the risk of diarrheal diseases. The supply of safe water has been seriously affected by the electricity crisis and import constraints on purification and disinfection chemicals, including chlorine.

  • All essential health services have been severely affected by critical drug shortages. Stock-outs of essential medicines affect pregnant and lactating women and children, which are likely to continue for several months.

  • Learning has also been severely disrupted – many schools have just reopened after some of the longest pandemic-related school closures in the region – disrupting the learning of 4.8 million children. School attendance rates have fallen dramatically and are expected to fall further with the end of school meals – often the only source of nutritious food for many marginalized children.

  • The current crisis is exacerbating existing protection concerns and psychosocial issues among children, exposing them to many protection risks. More than 10,000 children are in institutions (poverty is the main driver of placement) and their conditions will be compromised as the crisis worsens and new families place their children in institutions because they cannot afford to feed them or educate them.

  • High inflation and shrinking fiscal space could mean poverty will double over the next 24 months, with 93% of people living below the poverty line in the rural and housing sectors. Sri Lanka’s social protection system is fragmented with several programs failing to reach the most vulnerable, and many negative coping mechanisms have been reported, including institutionalization of children, school absenteeism/dropout, limited food intake, aggravated by the consequences of COVID-19. 19 and the current socio-economic and political crisis.

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