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Country analysis

Sri Lanka


The socioeconomic crisis since 2019 that turned severe in 2022 is the main driver of humanitarian needs in Sri Lanka, with an estimated seven million people needing humanitarian assistance. Persistent fiscal and current account deficits, mounting debt, and poor governance are the main contributors to this crisis. The secondary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the global supply chain have affected the country’s economy and people’s livelihoods, contributing to increasing poverty and food insecurity. As at October 2023, 24% of the total population (around 5.3 million people) were moderately food-insecure.

Sri Lanka is vulnerable to several climate hazards, including droughts, floods, landslides, and cyclones. From October 2023 to January 2024, heavy rains caused floods and landslides in various parts of the country, affecting Ampara, Galle, Gampaha, Kilinochchi, Matara, Mullaitivu, and Puttalam districts the most. 95,000 people need humanitarian assistance as a result.

(OCHA 08/11/2022, BBC 29/03/2023, WFP 29/12/2023, IFRC 23/01/2024)

The socioeconomic crisis since 2019 that turned severe in 2022 is the main driver of humanitarian needs in Sri Lanka, with an estimated seven million people needing humanitarian assistance. Persistent fiscal and current account deficits, mounting debt, and poor governance are the main contributors to this crisis. The secondary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the global supply chain have affected the country’s economy and people’s livelihoods, contributing to increasing poverty and food insecurity. As at October 2023, 24% of the total population (around 5.3 million people) were moderately food-insecure.

Sri Lanka is vulnerable to several climate hazards, including droughts, floods, landslides, and cyclones. From October 2023 to January 2024, heavy rains caused floods and landslides in various parts of the country, affecting Ampara, Galle, Gampaha, Kilinochchi, Matara, Mullaitivu, and Puttalam districts the most. 95,000 people need humanitarian assistance as a result.

(OCHA 08/11/2022, BBC 29/03/2023, WFP 29/12/2023, IFRC 23/01/2024)

Latest updates on country situation

06 February 2024

Since October 2023, Sri Lanka has been facing heavy rainfall from the southwest and northeast monsoon seasons. The resulting floods and landslides have affected more than 420,000 people across the island. The worst affected districts are Ampara, Galle, Gampaha, Kilinochchi, Matara, Mullaitivu, and Puttalam. As at 31 January 2024, about 7,150 people in Ampara district were taking shelter in safety centres. The floods and landslides have damaged or destroyed houses, schools, WASH facilities (such as drinking water sources and sewerage lines), roads, power supply lines, and agricultural land. Destroyed land includes around 35,000 acres of paddy fields (25,000 in Ampara alone), severely affecting the livelihoods of 35,000 farmers. Around 95,000 people are estimated to need humanitarian assistance. They require shelter, food, potable water, livelihood support, WASH services, healthcare, and education assistance. (IFRC 23/01/2024, Govt. Sri Lanka 31/01/2024)

10 January 2024

As at October 2023, nearly 5.3 million people (24% of Sri Lanka’s households) were facing food insecurity. This is a 40% increase compared to March 2023 estimates. Around 60% of the households dependent on social assistance programmes, around 50% of households dependent on humanitarian assistance, and around 40% of unskilled agricultural labour faced moderate food insecurity. Agricultural producers also faced a significant deterioration in their food security situation compared to March 2023, which was Maha harvest season, reflecting the impact of the current agricultural lean season in the country. Over 50% of the households in the estate sector, comprising tea or rubber plantations, and around 25% of the rural sector faced moderate food insecurity. The consumption of inadequate diets among groups with increased vulnerability to the situation drives the deterioration in food security in the country, with the least consumed food groups being proteins, dairy products, and fruits. (WFP 29/12/2023, WB 04/04/2017, FAO 16/06/2023)

15 August 2023

A dry weather spell in Sri Lanka resulting from below-average rainfall in the first half of 2023 and water shortages in reservoirs have resulted in a drinking water shortage in 15 districts, affecting around 183,000 people. Local authorities have distributed drinking water to around 154,000 affected people. (ECHO 09/08/2023, NDRSC 15/08/2023)

current crises
in Sri Lanka


These crises have been identified through the INFORM Severity Index, a tool for measuring and comparing the severity of humanitarian crises globally.

Read more about the Index

LKA002 - Socio-economic crisis

Last updated 27/05/2024


Drivers

Socio-political
Food Security

Crisis level

Country

Severity level

2.9 Medium

Access constraints

1.0

Analysis products
on Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Update on the socioeconomic crisis

18 July 2022

Sri Lanka: Update on the socioeconomic crisis

DOCUMENT / PDF / 172 KB

On 10 June 2022, ACAPS published an anticipatory analysis of the prospects for the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka. This report provides an update of the previous analysis with information available from 10 June to 17 July.

Economy
Sri Lanka: Socioeconomic crisis

10 June 2022

Sri Lanka: Socioeconomic crisis

DOCUMENT / PDF / 266 KB

Sri Lanka faces an economic crisis partly resulting from its twin deficit economy. The economic crisis is affecting the daily life of the population. Hospitals have reported shortages of medicines, price increases have made food unaffordable for part of the population, and some people have already started to migrate to India to escape the effects of the crisis. 

Economy
Sri Lanka: Floods from Southwest Monsoon

07 May 2020

Sri Lanka: Floods from Southwest Monsoon

DOCUMENT / PDF / 224 KB

The Southwest Monsoon is expected to arrive over Sri Lanka in mid to late May 2020. According to the National Department of Meteorology, an estimated 35,000 to 50,000 families may be displaced, based on analysis of previous floods and landslides. 

Natural hazards
Sri Lanka: Drought

16 August 2019

Sri Lanka: Drought

DOCUMENT / PDF / 637 KB

A rainfall deficit in the first half of the year has resulted in drought in most parts of Sri Lanka. As of 12 August, around 660,000 people have been affected across 18 districts. The worst affected districts are Batticaloa, Jaffna, Ampara, Mannar, Mullaitivu and Moneragala, with Mannar and Mullaitivu, both in Northern province, registering the highest percentages of affected people in their respective districts. Food and livelihood needs as well as WASH needs are reported. Farmer families in Northern province are particularly vulnerable.

Natural hazards
Sri Lanka: Floods

31 May 2017

Sri Lanka: Floods

DOCUMENT / PDF / 281 KB

Heavy rains in southwestern Sri Lanka from 25 May triggered flooding that affected 15 districts, of which Galle, Kalutara, Matara, and Ratnapura were the most severely affected. Over 588,000 people have been affected, 180 killed, and 110 are missing. Landslides and flooding have constrained access to heavily affected areas. 

Natural hazards
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