Disaster Alert: April 6, 2022
Driven by the pandemic, tourism losses, and high government spending, Sri Lanka has experienced a 70% drop in foreign exchange reserves since January 2020 and the lowest foreign exchange rate for the Sri Lankan rupee in a decade. Headline inflation has increased to 17.5%, resulting in protest and civil unrest directed at the government.
Food, medicine, and fuel are difficult to acquire, and power cuts are becoming more severe with periods of seven to ten hours (or more) without power. Many are no longer able to afford basic goods, and due to policy changes and importation challenges, the country is experiencing a resource shortage.
How is the crisis in Sri Lanka impacting children and their families?
The crisis has increased pandemic hardships for Sri Lankans and has caused a humanitarian crisis: Many are no longer able to afford basic goods, and due to policy changes and importation challenges, the country is experiencing a resource shortage. Food, medicine, and fuel are difficult to acquire, and power cuts are becoming more severe with periods of seven to ten hours (or more) without power. Banking access could become problematic, and many vendors may require cash payments. Many families' income can no longer support their needs due to sharp inflation, and there is concern for increased child protection issues and possible increases to child labor.
How is the crisis in Sri Lanka impacting Compassion?
Compassion is still assessing how this crisis may impact our program, our operations, our program participants and their families, our national office staff and their families, and our local partners (child development centers). A crisis management team has been formed to plan, address, or mitigate impacts where possible, and we are developing our response plan based on the findings of this team.
How is the crisis impacting Compassion staff?
Like our local partners and program participant families, our staff and their extended families are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and difficulty acquiring basic goods and resources due to inflation and supply chain issues. Food, medicine, and fuel are difficult to acquire; and power cuts are becoming more severe with periods of seven to ten (or more) hours without power. Banking access could become problematic, and many vendors may require cash payments.
How is Compassion responding to the crisis in Sri Lanka?
A crisis management team has been formed to plan, address, or mitigate impacts where possible. The team has identified four focus areas in which we may be able to reduce the impact of the crisis:
- Compassion operations
- financial impacts
- resource scarcity
- individual well-being
Compassion will be utilizing our Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) to provide assistance to our local partners and the children we serve. We will communicate about our specific response actions as they are planned or implemented.
Is my sponsored child ok?
Your sponsored child is still attending their local Compassion child development center in Sri Lanka and still receiving the benefits of our child development program. The child development center is maintaining communication with your sponsored child and his/her family and remains in the best position to assess his/her needs and determine the best way to respond to those needs. Compassion's child protection specialists in Sri Lanka have also been trained to monitor, identify, and address your sponsored child's emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.
Are my sponsorship funds still making it to my sponsored child through his/her child development center?
Yes. At this time, we have not experienced any interruptions in our ability to provide child sponsorship grants to our local partners.
Can I send letters or a monetary gift to my sponsored child?
At this time, we have not experienced any interruptions in our ability to deliver letters or monetary gifts, so please keep writing! Your sponsored child will value your encouragement and love. However, it is possible that in the days and weeks to come the crisis will impact our local partners' ability to deliver normal programming; if this happens, we will contact sponsors to explain these impacts.
Will I still receive letters from my sponsored child?
At this time, we have not experienced severe interruptions in our ability to deliver child letters to sponsors, but due to regular power cuts there may be some delay in processing letters. It is possible that in the days and weeks to come the crisis will impact our local partners' ability to deliver normal programming such as letter-writing; if this happens, we will contact sponsors to explain these impacts.
Will this crisis have a long-term impact?
The World Bank estimates 500,000 people have fallen below the poverty line since the start of the pandemic. This equates to five years of progress in the fight against poverty being lost. This crisis will only exacerbate additional setbacks in the fight against poverty.
What can I do?
Please pray for a swift end to this crisis, for the Sri Lankan economy to stabilize, and for minimal impact to children and families. If you feel called to, you may also make a donation to Compassion's Disaster Relief Fund, which is being used to provide assistance to those we serve during this economic crisis.
How else can I pray?
- Pray for children and their families.
- Pray that families would be able to access basic resources, such as food, medicine, and fuel. Pray for the protection of children during this time of crisis.
- Pray against a rise of child labor.
- Pray for Compassion's operations.
- Pray that the national office in Sri Lanka will be able to continue to carry out work.
- Pray against disruptions and infrastructure outages.
- Pray for Compassion's local partners.
- Pray that our child development centers will still be able to access funds and resources and provide support to families and their local community.
- Pray for frontline partner staff and volunteers, as they are experiencing additional stressors and demands.
- Pray for Compassion's staff. Pray that staff and their families would be able to acquire basic goods.
- Pray against anxiety, fear, and stress due to resource shortages and power outages.