John Keells Group initiates accelerated Crisis Response Programme to address food and educational challenges

As Sri Lanka navigates its worst economic crisis since Independence, the John Keells Group is committed to supporting and empowering affected communities to overcome the challenges in the immediate term and be better equipped to be self-reliant for the future.

“The current socio-economic crisis is by all accounts unprecedented,” said Carmeline Jayasuriya, Head of CSR of John Keells Holdings PLC. “Concurrent challenges relating to the unavailability, inaccessibility and unaffordability of basic food commodities, fuel, fertilizer and other essentials coupled with the record cost of living have disrupted the lives and livelihoods of many across the country.”

Impact of the crisis is widespread, with livelihoods of self-employed persons and small to medium enterprises coming under severe strain with the most affected being daily wage earners and women. Children and youth are particularly affected, with disruptions to regular schooling and tertiary learning in the wake of COVID-19 as well as the recent suspension of school meals due to the aggravated economic crisis.

The John Keells Group’s accelerated crisis response programme is undertaken through its CSR entity, John Keells Foundation within its community empowerment initiative ‘John Keells Praja Shakthi’ in collaboration with the Group’s businesses and is aimed at alleviating hardships and empowering identified communities for the future through immediate and medium to long term programmes under two pillars.

The first pillar focuses on addressing the current and impending food-security issues through a variety of initiatives implemented by the different John Keells Group businesses including Elephant House, Keells, Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts and John Keells Property. This comprises a multi-pronged Food Security Programme to address the immediate food crisis coupled with longer term sustainable initiatives including awareness creation on locally available nutrition and increasing farming efficiencies, self-reliance and entrepreneurship. Immediate term relief such as the donation of dry ration packs under the Keells Donation Card scheme and Cinnamon’s “Meals that Heal” are aimed at alleviating hunger among vulnerable communities in the short term whereas other more sustainable and long-term initiatives such as the home and community gardening initiatives, farmer empowerment through the promotion of good agriculture practices and facilitating school meals for children are in the process of being rolled out.(JKH)

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