At least 56,000 children in Sri Lanka suffering from malnutrition

At least 56,000 children in Sri Lanka suffering from malnutrition

At least 56,000 children in Sri Lanka are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, the United Nations (UN) said.

According to the latest figures published by the UN World Food Program (WFP), 32 percent of households are now food insecure, and 68 percent of households are turning to food based coping strategies such as eating less preferred food or reducing the number of meals and portion-sizes.

The Market Functionality Index, released by WFP, reports that markets are concerned about price volatility and unavailability of items, with traders worried about an increase in prices for cereal foods (81 percent of traders) and non-cereal foods items (73 percent of traders), which further exacerbates food security across Sri Lanka.

Food inflation in Sri Lanka remained high in October at 85.6 percent.

UNICEF estimates that approximately 2.3 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 56,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

In late October, the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities plan (HNP) was extended until the end of 2022, with the aim of providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to 3.4 million of the most vulnerable people in Sri Lanka.

United Nations agencies, funds and programmes and implementing partners have stepped up their interventions recently and the number of people reached, currently at around 1.2 million, is expected to further pick up speed in the next few weeks. In November alone, WFP aims to distribute 7,398 MT of food to approximately 400,000 people in five districts. Additionally, approximately one million children will receive school meals for three months across 7,900 schools island wide.

Furthermore, FAO is stepping up its livelihood support interventions by providing much needed fertilizer to smallholder farmers. UNICEF, UNFPA and implementing partners are continuing to provide protection support to vulnerable women and children, and WHO is continuing to support the Ministry of Health primarily with the procurement of essential medicines and other medical supplies.

Several Assessments on the food security and nutritional situation are either ongoing or planned, based on which informed decisions can be made on the future requirements for humanitarian aid. (Colombo Gazette)

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