Sri Lanka is currently facing a food shortage due to two consecutive seasons of poor harvests. There has been a 50 percent drop in production. There are also reduced imports of food grains due to foreign exchange constraints. These factors, coupled with the soaring prices of food inflation at nearly 94 percent, have left an estimated 6.3 million people — 30 percent of the population — facing moderate to severe acute food insecurity, according to a September 2022 joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Food Programme Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission report.
“We are happy to work with our partner Rise Against Hunger to send rice-meals to help address these severe food shortages,” said Father Timothy Ploch, interim director of Salesian Missions. “Salesians offer feeding programs in schools and centers that also extend to the community at-large so that people have proper nutrition. This ensures they are able to go to school and work and helps those who are struggling in the community.”
Salesian missionaries have been operating in Sri Lanka since 1956. In 1963, missionaries set up their first technical institute. Since then, they have established 17 more in locations across the country, as well as youth centers and other programs to help youth in need.
Sri Lanka has suffered a long civil war that ended in 2009, two tsunamis in the past 13 years, and a deadly dengue crisis. Nine out of 10 poor people in Sri Lanka live in rural areas, according to the World Bank. More than 40 percent of the country’s rural poor are small-scale farmers. Farm production is often hampered by neglect and low investment levels resulting from poor financial services and limited technology.
Sri Lankans are affected by a significant lack of infrastructure including roads, electricity, irrigation systems and communication channels. In several areas of the country, seven out of 10 people have no access to electricity and almost half of the population does not have access to safe drinking water. Malnutrition among children is also common.