UN agency planning long-term food support for flood-hit Sri Lankans

9 February 2011
Flood victims in Sri Lanka's Ampara district carry home food rations distributed by WFP

The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today that the agency is delivering food aid to half a million people affected by the massive floods in Sri Lanka, while planning for longer-term support to help those affected recover from the disaster.

Josette Sheeran, the WFP Executive Director, noted that the floods have severely damaged Sri Lanka’s rice crop, the country staple. Rice mills have also been damaged.

“In a global climate of food price volatility, such disruptions in the production of staple commodities in developing countries ring alarm bells,” said Ms. Sheeran. “We all know that any price hikes have a greater impact on the world’s poorest people, because they spend up to 80 per cent of their daily income on food.”

Although rice prices in the global markets have not risen to the worrying levels seen in the cost of wheat and maize, Ms. Sheeran cautioned that the floods in Sri Lanka are a reminder that erratic weather events can undermine the efforts of families, communities and countries to create food security.

“WFP is planning longer-term assistance to cover serious gaps in household food supplies in the weeks and months ahead, to ensure that this weather shock can be overcome and flood victims can rebuild their lives,’ she said.

In a related development, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is dispatching more supplies to support communities hit by the floods.

Supplies includes 19,000 school kits, 10,600 reinforced tarpaulins, 60 drums of chlorine bleaching powder, 2,000 sleeping mats, water tanks (2,000 litre capacity each), water purification tablets and children’s clothes.

The new consignment of materials brings the total value of UNICEF supplies to Sri Lanka during the past three weeks to more than $600,000.

The supplies are mainly aimed at helping families to ensure they have access to safe water and an ability to maintain basic levels of hygiene.

More than a million people have been affected by the latest wave flooding which has affected communities living in the north and the east of the country.

Consignments of relief supplies from UNICEF have been handed over to local government officials for distribution to those displaced by the floods. The UN is currently revising its emergency fundraising appeal to reflect the impact of the renewed flooding.


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