- Happening Now!
- Location: Pandariavely
- Recipients:33 families
- Objective:Emergency food relief for 6 months
We are facing hunger in eastern Sri Lanka, due to a catastrophic drought which resulted in the annual monsoon season (roughly December – February) never materializing. In Batticaloa District, where ABDF operates, the rice harvest was about 40% of normal. This has a double impact on the poorest of families in our area.
First, the rice shortage is leading to dramatic price increases. In November the price of a kilo of the lowest grade rice (called “Nadu”) was 60 rupees (about 50 cents US$) but it is now 95 per kilo, an increase of more than 50%, and rising by the week. Rice is the essential base of the Sri Lankan diet; typically it is consumed, either as a grain or as rice flour, three meals a day. The government has announced its intention to introduce price controls, but history shows that such moves only lead to hoarding and shortages in the markets.
Second, most rural villagers are tied to rice for their living. Typically in Batti Distirct, maybe 20% of a village’s population actually owns rice paddy; everyone else works for the rice growers in the fields, at the local rice mill, etc. In the tiniest of hamlets where we work, the land is 100% owned by absentee landowners and 100% of the villagers are rice laborers. So this crop failure has also meant far less work for villagers, and consequently less ready cash.
The entire District is facing this double whammy: The lack of work means that poor families haven’t the money to buy enough rice, even if they can afford it in the first place.Read the rest of this entry »