Jaffna is the capital of the northern province of Sri Lanka. With a population of 100,000, it is the second largest city in Sri Lanka. Before the civil war, Jaffna was thriving economically. However, during the civil war (1983-2009), the city was at the centre of the fighting, and many inhabitants fled to other parts of the island. The city was also hit by the tsunami in 2004, which killed approximatively 30 000 Sri Lankans. Slowly but surely, the city is finding its balance again, amidst more recent economic crises and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since 2011, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Jaffna.
During the civil war between 1983 and 2009, food supplies were scarce or simply non-existent. Although the situation has improved, parents in Jaffna struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their children.
In the district of Jaffna, 14% of children experience stunting (low height for age), which is a result of undernutrition, while 12% of children experience wasting (low weight for height), which occurs when a child has not had enough food of adequate quality.
The Northern Province is still recovering from years of civil unrest, and many families still live in poverty. The Northern Province is the poorest region in Sri Lanka. Not only is the war a cause of that, but also climate change. Sri Lanka's coastal regions, which include the Northern Province, is considered a major hotspot and extremely vulnerable to floods and tsunamis caused by climate change.
Both the war and floods have caused hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans to flee, most of them have not returned home, some of them are still living in refugee camps. These aspects lead to poverty and have a deep impact on the lives of Sri Lankan children.