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Thirsty Land, Hungry People

KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka, Oct 7 2014 (IPS) - Gazing out over the parched earth of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, one might think these farmlands have not seen water in years. In fact, this is not too far from the truth.

The World Food Programme (WFP) last month allocated 2.5 million dollars to assist hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans in the throes of an 11-month drought that has shown no signs of abating.

The WFP said on Sep. 1 that 2.3 million dollars worth of supplies, including rations of the national staple rice, would be provided to the drought victims. The assistance scheme will also provide 277,000 dollars in cash grants to some families.

The drought has so far impacted over 1.6 million people, of whom at least 190,000 are in need of urgent food assistance, while there are concerns about the food security of an additional 700,000.

Over half of those impacted by the drought are from the northern and eastern provinces of the country, two of the poorest in the nation.

While the situation calls for immediate assistance, the WFP also warned that the affected would need long-term help to adapt to the impacts of changing climate patterns.

The World Bank estimates that the annual risk to Sri Lanka posed by climate-related disasters stands at some 380 million dollars. The worst disaster to date, a severe flood in 2010 and 2011, caused damages to the tune of 50 billion dollars.

Edited by Kanya D’Almeida

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