UN assures President cooperation and drought relief

The United Nations and its affiliated bodies have said they will take serious note of the impending drought situation in Sri Lanka and assured President Maithripala Sirisena that they would extend their fullest cooperation to the Presidential Task Force to provide drought relief, the President’s office said.

Top level UN officials, including the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, Una McCauley, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Representative and Country Director for Sri Lanka, Brenda Barton and Ms. Emelda Berejena, Chief Technical Advisor at FAO called on President Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat today to discuss issues pertaining to the drought and the relief organization.

The top UN officials thanked the President for establishing a Task Force to monitor and supervise the drought relief and assured that they would take every step to bring this impending calamity to the notice of the international community and seek their assistance.

The UN representative said as the first step the UN could provide expertise in monitoring, evaluation and communication regarding the drought situation.

The WFP said it can extend the food or cash for work programme to provide employment to rural people who were denied work because of the drought.

WFP said the food/cash for work programme is already in operation in several districts. WFP said that such assurance of income to people would prevent them from indebtedness as there are instances of private money lenders providing the poor people with loans on exorbitant interest rates. WFP added that the people should be encouraged to take loans from government agencies that provide soft loans.

UN officials said that one of the main problems of the drought would be the drinking water shortage and that would lead to health issues in the long run. They also discussed the issue of finding an adequate number of bowsers to supply water to drought affected areas.

The President thanked the UN Heads for their concern over the drought situation and invited them to attend the Task Force meetings every week to further monitor the situation. (Colombo Gazette)


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