Sri Lanka will receive an emergency assistance loan amounting to US $ 203 million from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to ensure the poor and vulnerable, especially women and children, have access to food and have their livelihoods protected.
The agreement for the same was inked between the ADB and Government of Sri Lanka yesterday.
While the emergency loan from the ADB is of US $ 200 million, the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific (JFPR) will provide a grant of US $ 3 million via the ADB to finance the project activities.
The loan funds have been repurposed from the ongoing ADB portfolio.
Signing the agreement was Treasury and Finance Ministry Secretary K.M. Mahinda Siriwardana from the Government of Sri Lanka and ADB Country Director for Sri Lanka Chen Chen, who signed on behalf of the ADB. The loan signing was witnessed by Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka Mizukoshi Hideaki.
Commenting on the assistance, Siriwardana said the emergency loan would provide the much-needed financing to ensure access to food and protect the livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable during the unprecedented economic crisis that Sri Lanka is facing at present.
“The project will provide crucial support to the government in extending assistance to vulnerable groups and restoring the livelihood of the poor and vulnerable, including farmers,” he said.
Amid the current economic difficulties, food insecurity has severely affected the people of Sri Lanka. The assistance will expand direct financial support for the poor and vulnerable while boosting livelihood development activities and agricultural production and enhancing social protection systems.
Chen shared that the loan forms part of the ADB’s emergency response package to the multifaceted challenges facing Sri Lanka. The ADB has been addressing immediate needs, such as essential medical supplies, materials for water treatment and working capital for small and medium-sized enterprises by reallocating surplus loan proceeds from ongoing loans.
“Moving forward, the ADB will continue to work closely with development partners to support Sri Lanka’s recovery from the economic crisis,” said Chen.
For at least three months, the project will support the temporary increase in the monthly cash grant amount and the number of beneficiaries of the existing social assistance programmes. In addition, it will replace the monthly food vouchers for pregnant and lactating women with higher-value cash grants, while extending support to undernourished children under the age of two.
The project will also upgrade information technology systems and digital tools for the Samurdhi programme 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.
To promote advanced practices and technologies for precision agriculture and improved crop productivity among farmers, especially female farmers, the grant will support the upgrading and delivery of the Good Agricultural Practices certification programme.