COLOMBO – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have launched a joint project in support of Government policy to fight undernutrition in Sri Lanka. The ‘Scaling Up Nutrition through Multi-Sector Approach’ was launched on 18 March 2015 at the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine under the auspices of Honorable Dr. Rajith Senarathne, Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine, D. M. R. B. Dissanayke, Secretary to the Ministry, Ismail Omer, Representative and Country Director of WFP Sri Lanka and representatives from FAO.
While Sri Lanka has made impressive progress in achieving a number of Millennium Development Goals, undernutrition continues to be an issue, with stunting rates at 13 percent.
“The fact that we are here today demonstrates the strong political will of the government. It demonstrates the joint commitment in tackling the scourge of malnutrition in Sri Lanka. WFP, FAO and other UN agencies, in partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka, will continue to work together towards fighting malnutrition,” said Omer.
“I am confident that the achievements expected as outcomes of this joint project will assist in raising awareness and improving nutrition levels,” added Beth Crawford, FAO Representative for Sri Lanka.
The Health Minister Senarathne highlighted the importance of nutrition, thanked WFP and FAO for their assistance, and wished all success for the project.
While a number of initiatives prioritizing school nutrition and education are already being carried out by the government, under the project WFP and FAO will work with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Children’s Affairs and other ministries to develop a comprehensive school feeding policy.
School nutrition and education is a priority area for the country and many school feeding initiatives are currently carried out by the government. In consultation with the Ministries of Education and Childrens’ Affairs and other Ministries, FAO/WFP will focus on developing school feeding policy. FAO hopes to provide support for the training of teachers, Development Officers, master trainers, etc in strengthening community empowerment to promote better health and nutrition in schools and communities. FAO will introduce school gardens based learning, work on activities related to nutrition in curriculum, strengthen school nutrition information systems and improve nutrition promotion in teacher education.
WFP will work with the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine and the Ministry of Agriculture on conducting several nutrition-based surveys. WFP also plans to run pilot initiatives to assess the efficiency and cost effectiveness of food fortification as a means to combat undernutrition, as well as engaging in advocacy programmes to promote fortified foods. The results of the surveys and initiatives will help the government, together with WFP and FAO, decide on which types of interventions and which parts of the country should receive priority attention. WFP will also support relevant government authorities to strengthen links between health and nutrition and food security as a national development priority at all levels. Malnutrition affects millions of people around the world. Asia alone is home to almost 100 million stunted children.
Sadhana Mohan, WFP/Colombo, Tel. +94(0)112 555520 (ext) 2450, Mob. +94(0)773754233, firstname.lastname@example.org,