Food Insecurity: The Current Crisis

(Source: PRIV.DOC)

Jakarta, IO – Sri Lanka is facing hardships immensely. People are struggling to fulfill their basic needs and they have sacrificed their mid-term goals and long-term goals. Food security is one such sector that is gravely affected due to the current economic crisis. Food security, as defined by the United Nations Committee on World Food Security, means that “all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life”. No need to say that Sri Lanka has no food security and this is detrimental to the lives of the people. According to the World Food Program, 6.3 million people, or over 30 percent of Sri Lanka’s population, are “food insecure” and require humanitarian assistance. Of these, around 5.3 million people are either reducing meals or skipping meals, and at least 65,600 people are severely food insecure. According to a study by Save the Children in June 2022, 59% of families reported not being able to meet all their food needs fully. In addition, two in three respondents noted that their households had to rely on less preferred or less expensive foods at least once a week before the survey. The report stated: “Over half of all children had to eat less preferred food and children had to reduce their quantity of food intake. About one in ten children had reduced their frequency of food intake (twice or less).”The recent situation in the country is a predicament of various factors including, economic mismanagement, the banning of chemical fertilizers in April 2021, Covid -19 pandemic, the Ukraine war as well as the debt crisis. Apart from the factors which lead to Sri Lanka’s some other matters such as environmental stresses and lack of policy responses to global change also affects food insecurity. Irrespective of government measures Sri Lanka is still batting with day-to-day needs. Therefore, it is high time that government should cater to address the needs of the public. 

According to Food and Agriculture Organization Policy brief, there are different dimensions of food security. One such is food availability, which is the availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports (including food aid). The next is food access which is the access by individuals to adequate resources (entitlements) for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. Entitlements are defined as the set of all commodity bundles over which a person can establish command given the legal, political, economic, and social arrangements of the community in which they live (including traditional rights such as access to common resources). When it comes to utilization, utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation, and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met. This brings out the importance of non-food inputs in food security. The third dimension is stability, which is the ability to be food secure, a population, household, or individual must have access to adequate food at all times. They should not risk losing access to food as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g., an economic or climatic crisis) or cyclical events (e.g, seasonal food insecurity). The concept of stability can therefore refer to both the availability and access dimensions of food security. Applying this to the Sri Lankan context, it is clear that these dimensions are not fulfilled well.