Nuwara Eliya is a city located in the central province of Sri Lanka, with a population of 27,500 inhabitants. It is situated at an altitude of around 2000 metres and is known to be one of the coolest areas on the island.The province is also recognized as the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka. On a yearly basis, the island exports around 300 million kilogrammes of tea!
However, this tea production in Nuwara Eliya involves exploitation of adults and children. The high percentage of poverty in the area also results in child malnutrition.
Since 1984, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Nuwara Eliya.
Parents in Nuwara Eliya struggle to provide enough nutritious food for their children. In this district, 32% of children experience stunting (low height for age), which is a result of undernutrition. This is, sadly, the highest percentage in the whole of Sri Lanka.
In this same district, 12% of children experience wasting (low weight for height), which occurs when a child has not had food of adequate quality and quantity.
In order to improve the health of children, the government of Sri Lanka has nutrition programmes in place.
Coming from a history of slavery and undocumented immigration, tea plantation workers in Nuwara Eliya still experience exploitation today. To earn the daily wage of 700 Sri Lankan Rupees (around €4), workers have to collect a minimum of 18 kilogrammes of tea leaves.
Not only adults are exploited on those tea plantations, but also children.
There is no exact data on children working in the tea plantations, but an estimated 43,000 children are involved in child labour on the whole island. This is 1% of the total child population of Sri Lanka.