(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Tuesday approved a $200 million emergency assistance loan for Sri Lanka, with funds repurposed from other ongoing ADB projects, to improve food security and protect the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable, especially women and children.
“Food insecurity has severely affected the people of Sri Lanka amid the current economic difficulties. This assistance will expand direct financial support for the poor and vulnerable, boost livelihood development activities and agricultural production, and enhance social protection systems,” said ADB Senior Education Specialist for South Asia Asako Maruyama. “This fulfills the government’s request for a partial cancellation of loan proceeds from ongoing projects and to use the funds for this emergency intervention.”
The project will continue, for at least 3 months, the temporary increase in the monthly cash grant amount and the number of beneficiaries of the existing social assistance programs, including the Samurdhi subsidy program for low-income families, and allowances for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and kidney disease patients, ADB said in a release.
The project will also support, for at least 3 months, a temporary increase in the monthly value of food vouchers for pregnant and lactating women to be replaced with cash grants, and extend support to undernourished children under the age of 2.
To increase food production and offset increasing agricultural production costs, the project will provide financial support for a maximum of 2 hectares of land cultivated by each farmer in higher-yield zones during the upcoming cultivation season.
Moreover, upgraded livelihood development programs for low-income families will be supported in selected districts over 18–20 months to restore livelihoods and enhance coping capacity and food security.
The project will also upgrade information technology systems and digital tools for the Samurdhi program and agriculture and agrarian development to enhance cash grant beneficiary selection, verification, monitoring, and communication, and improve financial, advisory, and other services for low-income families and farmers.
In addition, ADB will administer a $3 million grant from the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific to support basic needs, such as food, hygiene kits, and medicines, of vulnerable women, children, elders, and persons with disabilities in shelters and care homes and those at risk of being placed in institutional care. It will strengthen referral and support mechanisms for victims of gender-based and domestic violence.
To promote advanced practices and technologies for precision agriculture and improved crop productivity among farmers, it will support the upgrading and delivery of the Good Agricultural Practices certification program.
“ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region,” the lender said.