Sri Lanka: Little Things Do Make A Big Difference

Providing food assistance does not simply equate to giving aid. As we learn from this young mom, receiving assistance can be a means of returning to self-sufficiency.

"Before the conflict, we had our own garden in the backyard where we grew vegetables for us to eat with our meals. We could buy lots of fresh fish in the small shops. I remember how my husband would often buy fish -- two, sometimes three times a week. Now, as fish and vegetables are not always available in our village, the community is working hard to clear fields so we can grow food again. We are used to providing for ourselves and being self-sufficient," narrates Krishnaverny.

Krishnaverny Mohan is one of the fifty young women availing health services at a clinic in Mullaitivu, in northern Sri Lanka. As a participant in the World Food Programme's (WFP) Mother and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN) project, she receives five kilos of Corn Soya Blend (CSB)when she visits the health clinic each month. CSB is part WFP's range of fortified nutritious food which is provided as a supplement to prevent malnutrition among infants and young children, and pregnant women like Krishnaverny.

In addition to receiving CSB,under the WFP MCHN programme, mothers and caregivers are provided training on good nutrition practices, dietary diversity and hygiene.

The government of Sri Lanka has already taken important steps to address the food security situation of the country. However, as levels of malnutrition remain high in the northern province, WFP, in collaboration with the government,is supporting initiatives to test the efficiency of different nutritional products used to treat and prevent moderate and acute malnutrition in the country.

Krishnaverny -- who looks younger than 24 -- has already suffered four miscarriages. Nurses at the health clinic recommended that she take CSB throughout her pregnancy to help her deliver a healthy baby.

"I lost my daughter, father and mother during the conflict," Krishverny says. "These are difficult times. My husband and I are still hoping to be permanently re-settled and to have our own home. I am also anxious about my unborn baby."

"But," Krishnaverny continues after a thoughtful pause, "I am lucky, I have support. The nurses at the health clinic are always encouraging. And WFP provides temporary food and important skills and guidance that will always be useful for mothers like me."