Drought Relief: Work for Food Program

  • Description

imageWhy are we doing this?

Sri Lanka is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent history. This drought has caused widespread crop failures, which in Sri Lanka’s primarily agricultural economy means rural families have lost their livelihoods and are now struggling to meet their basic needs. Since most rural families’ major source of food comes from farming their own land, malnutrition has significantly increased and immediate help is needed to prevent famine.

In order to cope, families have often had to sell assets or take on loans. This causes problems as it means the effects of the drought will continue long after weather conditions improve. Many people have also had to leave their homes in order to find day labourer work, but these jobs are few and far between. This also creates serious social problems as families are separated and parents are unable to look after their children. Palmera’s Emergency Relief Appeal will provide much needed help to villagers in Sri Lanka’s worst hit Vavuniya District.

What is this project about?

DroughtReliefAppeal_3Palmera will work with our project partner FOSDOO to provide short-term emergency food packages to 289 families in four of the most severely drought affected villages. These food packages will be a replacement source of food until the drought is over and the people of Vavuniya District are able to return to agricultural production for their livelihoods. In exchange for this short-term support beneficiaries will be asked to participate in community works projects that benefit the village.

How will it work?

DroughtReliefAppeal_2Over a period of two months Palmera and FOSDOO will purchase and deliver emergency relief packages consisting of basic foods such as rice, flour and soya meat to the beneficiaries. These food packages will meet the families’ nutritional needs until the worst of the drought is over.

In exchange for these food packages, Palmera and FOSDOO will organise common works projects in the village that the beneficiaries will be asked to contribute to. These common works projects will involve jobs such as clearing roads and vegetation and fixing drainage systems. Work for food programs discourage aid reliance and ensure communities are sustainable. By asking beneficiaries to help their community in exchange for support, they gain a sense of self-efficacy as well as the long term benefits that come from improving their communities.

The Benefits

  • Villagers will be able to meet their basic food needs until the drought is over.

  • Long-term impact of the drought is reduced, as families are not forced to sell assets or take out loans to meet food needs.

  • Families stay together, and parents will be able to stay in their home villages and care for their children.

  • Beneficiaries can return to local agricultural production when the drought is over.

  • Common works programs allow beneficiaries to contribute to the long term benefits of their villages.


This current drought comes at the end of three previous years of unpredictable and extreme weather, which has seriously damaged agricultural production. Drought in 2012 and flooding in 2013 have meant that rural families have built up unsustainable levels of debt, lack water stockpiles for irrigation, have limited quality seed supply and have experienced long-term declines in income. Since 2012, it is estimated food insecurity has doubled to affect 768,000 people in 2014.

DroughtReliefAppeal_1Now this current drought is believed to be even more severe. Sri Lanka’s economy is dependent on agricultural production. For people in the Vavuniya District, a rural area that is especially reliant on agricultural production, the consequences of this extreme drought are especially significant. Urgent help is needed to meet short-term food needs.

Our Partner

The Federation of Social Development Organisations (FOSDOO) will be the local partner that delivers this project. FOSDOO has a strong history delivering a range of livelihood projects in the Vavuniya District, including poultry, sewing, masonry, gardening and food production.

For more information please visit http://www.fosdoo.org

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