'I can't feed the child in her womb' - Father's heartbreak as Sri Lanka chaos means he can't put food on the table

·2-min read

Nishandani is three months pregnant, but unlike her previous births this time she feels weak.

After having blood tests, she discovered her iron and calcium levels were low.

Nishandani and her husband Nalin believe her health is suffering because they can't afford to buy the amount of fruit and vegetables they bought before the economic crisis.

I asked Nalin Ajith how he feels about being unable to support his family.

His reply was heartbreaking: "I'm really sad because I can't feed the child in her womb. But as a father I will do my best.

"This has happened because of the wrongdoings of the rulers."

He was referring to the Rajapaksa political dynasty which has now lost power in the country.

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Nalin works as a tuk tuk driver. The fuel crisis means it takes a week to line up for petrol, so he can only earn money for the family every second week.

It's a hard life. With a baby on the way and two other children to support, the couple say they're constantly stressed about how they'll put food on the table.

At the moment they're managing to continue to afford three meals a day but the quality of those meals is deteriorating and they fear eventually they'll have to start skipping meals altogether.

The dire economic situation in Sri Lanka and its impact on the most vulnerable people has led the World Food Programme (WFP) to give monthly food vouchers to pregnant women who can't afford to buy any.

The WFP has found 86% of families in the country are either eating less, eating less nutritious food or missing meals altogether.

On the streets of Colombo, while it feels calm, you can sense the frustration is not only building but it's seething at petrol queues.

There are queues for everything in the city now. Everything is in short supply, including the basic necessities of life; fuel, medicine and food.

It's not uncommon to see fights and scuffles break out. You can't expect people to spend days waiting in the futile hope that petrol will be delivered and they'll eventually reach the front of the line.

At one petrol station a group of tuk tuk and car drivers told me they had waited 5, 10 and in one case 15 days to fill up.

They were utterly exhausted and said they sleep on the pavement every night. They can't go home while their vehicle is in the queue.

Twenty-five-year-old Mohamed Ruzni has been waiting for over two weeks to get petrol for his car and is angry about it.

"We don't have anything," he said. "We don't have lunch, dinner or breakfast. Nobody here does."

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