Sri Lanka: Nutrition and Social Safety Net – Field Note 4

It has been reported that only 20% of the population consumes nutritious food of the correct composition. This indicates the fact that 80% of the population does not get proper nutrition as far as both nutrition and energy are concerned.

This series is based on the excerpts of the first report of the Sub-Committee in identifying short and medium-term programmes related Economic Stabilization of the National Council tabled in the Parliament by Patali Champika Ranawaka as the Chair of the Sub-Committee.  Composition of the Sub-Committee in identifying short and medium-term programmes related Economic Stabilization of the National Council,  Patali Champika Ranawaka (Chair), Naseer Ahamed, Tiran Alles, Sisira Jayakody, Sivanesathurai Santhirakanthan, Wajira Abeywardana, A. L. M. Athaullah, Rishad Bathiudeen, Palani Thigambaram, Mano Ganesan, M. Rameshwaran; all are members of the house representing various political parties – editors

Background

It was reported that malnutrition remained at a higher level such as 20%, for a period of 10 years for various reasons (poverty and some others).

Kids are playing in Sigiriya[ Photo Credit: ayuinthewild.com]

It has been revealed by the FAO survey that in June 2022, 28% of the population (June 2022) suffers from food insecurity and people usually spend 75% of their income on food. It has been observed that this is an alarming situation in comparison with the percentage of 32% reported in the year 2019.

In terms of food, two major factors were considered: obtaining the minimum necessary energy (in kcal) and obtaining the necessary supplementary nutrients (proteins, vitamins, and others). According to the current World Bank poverty observations, the poverty in poor countries has risen to 6.1% in year 2022 (6.8% in year 2023), based on the poverty criteria of poor countries (US $ 1 per day), while poverty in middle income countries has risen to 25.6% in year 2022 (28.2% in year 2023), based on the poverty criteria of middle income countries (US $ 3.65 per day). Similarly, the unemployment rate also doubled during the period 2020–2022 while the annual average variance of inflation has gone up to a level of 34% and the variance between years remains at a higher level such as 66%.

All these facts indicate that there is a rapid increase in loss of income, loss of employment, and poverty (relative and absolute).

Short-term solutions and proposals

The social protection laws should be formulated with immediate effect for the benefit of the victims of poverty and unemployment

The Department of Census and Statistics should conduct systematic sample surveys on household expenses and income, poverty, and unemployment at least once every 3 months and accordingly the relief programs and economic programs of the government should be formulated in a manner in which social pressure is minimized. It has been reported that only 20% of the population consumes nutritious food of the correct composition. This indicates the fact that 80% of the population does not get proper nutrition as far as both nutrition and energy are concerned.

As the nutrition during the infant stage and the first 8000 days (up to the age of 20) decides the nutrition of the human being, the nutrition targets should be formulated in accordance with that. As the nutrition of adults has been given second place in a cultural perspective, the attention has to be paid to that matter.

It is suggested that it is essential to have correct data and give publicity on food and nutrition.

The varieties of yams, green leaves, and fruits that are not popular but give immediate results should be promoted having identified traditional knowledge and biodiversity. Even though food and other relief are provided by various institutions, there is no coordination among them. Similarly, there are accusations to the effect that the aid provided by the government is used for obtaining political gains. For that reason, a digital data platform and a benefit platform should be prepared for the creation of a systematic social protection net, and the relationship among international, private, and public institutions should be confirmed through it. It should be an open process with transparency and it is suggested that an electronic card or a mobile phone should be used for that.

Source: Sri Lanka Parliament

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