Sri Lanka is undergoing a phase of economic downturn brought by the economic crisis, which has further plunged from the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2019 Easter attack. The economic downturn brought about by limited dollar reserves has pushed the Sri Lankan economy into a period of hyperinflation, coupled with a shortage of essential items including foods and medicine. Foods, medicines, fuel and other essentials are either unavailable and most of the items are exorbitantly priced.
In fact, food inflation is 57% by mid-June according to the situation report submitted by World Food Program (WFP, Situation Report, June 2022). The burden of these economic shocks has been ultimately passed on to the people and has been felt by members across the society from the wealthiest to the destitute families. A survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund/United Nations Development Programme (UNICEF/UNDP) records that 71 percent of respondent households representing all districts of Sri Lanka have experienced either total or partial loss in income.
A mechanism has been put in place to allocate essential items based on a ration system. This has brought about long queues spanning over kilometers forcing people to stay in line for days to get the things they need. The impact of this economic crisis has been felt greatly by children. Sri Lanka’s population consists of 6,214,692 children under 18 years. UNICEF, articulated that the Sri Lankan economic crisis is a children’s crisis with 1.7 children in the country having to bear the brunt of the crisis (UNICEF, June 2022). Further, UNICEF representative in Sri Lanka speaking to ABC network stated that while Sri Lanka had one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in South Asia, the economic crisis has only exacerbated the child malnutrition crisis.
According to statistics gathered by UNICEF 7 out of 10 families in Sri Lanka are cutting out their food intake to mitigate the crisis, with those having three meals per day have decreased to two, while those having eating two meals have now declined to one (UNICEF, June 2022). Within the nuclear family, stressors such as job loss, loss in family savings, have placed severe strains on parental relationships and on the family as a whole. Higher poverty rates are associated with increased rates of family conflict, child neglect and abuse, and intimate partner violence. Dr Renuka Jayathissa from the Sri Lanka medical Research Institute, speaking to News 1st Colombo revealed that there was an increase in the number of children discovered as multitoned observed in the first half of 2022 (News 1st Colombo, 10th June 2022). The situation is aggravating day by day due to the economic crisis situation in the country. One million children receiving free school meals in Sri Lanka or one in four students in the country could go hungry after government funding was cut as food prices skyrocketed.
Children’s safety is also in peril when the parents leave their children with the neighbours/relatives to get the essentials they need. This is mainly due to the fact that the very person the parents trust to leave their children can be the perpetrator of child abuse. There have been 14 reported child murder cases by the mid-week of June 2022 for the past 20 months.
Prioritise your children even in the midst of the economic crisis.
Living during the economic crisis is indeed stressful. We are anxious and irritable at this point. Our focus has shifted to survival mode and as we seek to provide for the family and protect them, are we giving enough attention to our children?
- Be aware that your children will feed off your emotions – Your stress will affect them.
- Think about how you talk to them, the tone, the pitch and the pace. How does it make your child feel?
- Be mindful of the words and the tone you use to speak about others – Your children learn by watching and may apply it to their peers.
- Try to give the attention and responses your child needs- This can help your children feel safe and loved.
- Create a balanced schedule for your children to have fun, family time and engage in chores while doing educational tasks- This will keep them occupied, motivated and connected within the family.
- Teach your children to protect themselves from danger – Talk to them about keeping safe and monitor your children online and offline
Your child is the future of the world and it’s our paramount duty to ensure their wellbeing.
LEADS is currently carrying out its Emergency Response efforts across the country, ensuring that vulnerable children and their families are prioritised during this time of urgent need. Join our initiative and make a contribution today!
Donate by visiting>> LEADS’ Emergency Response 2022 – Caring Hearts, Healing Lives! – LEADS
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