Anuradhapura is the capital city of the North Central Province, with an approximate population of 51,000. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and its history are very well preserved. In more recent times, the city was affected by the civil war, which lasted until 2009. Slowly, but surely, the city is finding its balance again, amidst more recent economic crises and the COVID-19 pandemic. Nowadays, the main risks that children face are malnutrition and child trafficking.
Since 1994, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Anuradhapura.
During the civil war between 1983 and 2009, food supplies were scarce or simply non-existent. Although the situation has improved, parents in Anuradhapura struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their children.
In Anuradhapura district, 19% of children suffer from stunting (low height in relation to age), which is a result of malnutrition. In turn, 20% of children suffer from wasting (low weight in relation to height), which occurs when a child has not eaten in sufficient quality and quantity..
Child trafficking, forced labour and exploitation, has been an issue in Sri Lanka for decades. No exact data can be given, as these crimes often happen behind closed doors and thus the magnitude of the horror cannot be measured. However, it is known that 39,000 children in Sri Lanka are involved in hazardous forms of child labour. Children coming from families living in extreme poverty, are more likely to be exposed to traffickers. The government of Sri Lanka has made noteworthy progress in eradicating the problem, but it is not enough.