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    Sri Lanka Launches Fortified Rice Lunch Programme to Address Malnutrition Among School Children

    ChildrenEarly childhood developmentSri Lanka Launches Fortified Rice Lunch Programme to Address...
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    Sri Lanka Launches Fortified Rice Lunch Programme to Address Malnutrition Among School Children

    The Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries, the Ministry of Education, the World Food Programme, the National Food Promotion Board and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have collaborated on the project, the government said in its statement.

    Sri Lanka has launched a fortified rice lunch distribution programme aiming to benefit some half a million school children in the country.

    The programme, meant to last eight months in the first phase, comes a year after a shipment of fortified rice reached Sri Lanka as the country was recovering from a unprecedented financial and food crisis. That shipment was part of a larger food assistance initiative by USAID and WFP that includes 3,950 metric tons of fortified rice to provide school meals and nutritional supplements for 1.7 million children as well as 300,000 pregnant and lactating mothers.

    The present programme “seeks to enhance the nutritional status of school children, addressing issues such as anaemia, memory impairment and stunted growth. Approximately five hundred thousand school children are expected to benefit from fortified rice lunches over an eight-month period,” a statement released by the president’s office said at the launch of the programme in Colombo last Thursday.

    The Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries, the Ministry of Education, the World Food Programme, the National Food Promotion Board and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) have collaborated on the project, the government said in its statement.

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    Speaking at the event, Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and the Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka said nurturing a healthy future generation was essential. Nutrition is a critical factor in shaping the country’s destiny beyond merely satisfying hunger.

    He expressed satisfaction with the expansion and strengthening of a program initiated to aid war-affected areas in the Northern and Eastern provinces. Originating in four districts, the program broadened its scope to six districts following the tsunami in 2004. Supported by various ministries and organizations, the initiative has evolved to encompass a wider geographical area, reflecting its continued impact and success.

    Following the unprecedented economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty levels in Sri Lanka experienced a significant surge. In response, a stabilization program was initiated, spearheaded by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, with a primary focus on addressing poverty, said Mr. Ratnayaka.

    The nutrition programme’s roots date back to 2003 with the intervention of the World Food Programme. The ongoing efforts align with President Wickremesinghe’s vision for a poverty-free and healthier Sri Lanka, said Ratnayake.

    The expansion and strengthening of a programme initiated to aid war-affected areas in the Northern and Eastern provinces was satisfactory, the official had noted, according to the statement.

    “Originating in four districts, the programme broadened its scope to six districts following the tsunami in 2004. Supported by various ministries and organisations, the initiative has evolved to encompass a wider geographical area, reflecting its continued impact and success.

    “Following the unprecedented economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty levels in Sri Lanka experienced a significant surge. In response, a stabilisation programme was initiated, spearheaded by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, with a primary focus on addressing poverty,” he said.

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