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Relief needed for 768,000 drought-affected people in Sri Lanka

Posted on Aug 13 2014 | IANS

Colombo, Aug 13 : A severe drought has hit an estimated 1.5 million Sri Lankans with 768,000 of them in urgent need of basic food and livelihood requirements, the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a report Wednesday.

Three consecutive years of natural disasters have undermined household resilience: populations in affected areas have built up unsustainable levels of debts, have insufficient access to water for irrigation, have limited quality seed supply and are exposed to a continuous decline in agricultural income, Xinhua reported citing the report.

The severe nine-month drought has affected people in the north, north central and eastern parts of the country.

The most drought-affected areas are the main rice producing regions in Sri Lanka.

Increase in food prices due to drought nudged up Sri Lanka's July inflation to 3.6 percent from 2.8 percent the previous month, latest data released by the Sri Lanka Central Bank showed.

In 2012, a severe drought reduced growth from the projected 7.2 percent to 6.7 percent. Analysts warn projected growth of 7.8 percent for 2014 could also be similarly affected but the government has not rolled back estimates.

The WFP, in its report, has warned that household food consumption has deteriorated sharply.

"Immediate coordinated relief and agricultural inputs specifically targeting the vulnerable households are recommended to prevent a further collapse in household resilience," the report noted, pointing out that many families are borrowing heavily to meet daily needs.

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