COLOMBO, May 4, 2011 – The Japan Social Development Fund through the World Bank will support the nutrition improvement in mothers and children in Northern Sri Lanka with a $2.7 million grant ($300 million LKR) for a period of two years to reduce the compounded effects of the conflict as well as the global food and financial crisis on currently one of the most nutritionally vulnerable populations in the country.
The Northern Province of Sri Lanka has recently emerged from 30 years of civil conflict. Approximately three hundred thousand persons were displaced from the Northern Province, most of whom have been resettled back to their original districts and are now in the process of rebuilding their own homes as well as developing their livelihoods. A recently concluded survey carried out by the Medical Research Institute of the Ministry of Health among the resettled population in 2010 reported that underweight and stunting prevalence among less than 5 year olds is notably higher compared to national figures.
“Targeting pregnant and lactating women and children under two years to improve their nutrition status, adopts the life-cycle approach to nutrition and will allow the targeted population to live healthier and fuller lives” said Diarietou Gaye, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka. Better nutritional status improves educability of children and productivity of the labor-force, which are critical factors for Sri Lanka’s development and growth.
The project will target specific groups that are most vulnerable to nutrition deficiencies and is expected to benefit the lives of over 125,000 people. Additionally to providing supplies of nutritious, supplementary food, the project will also set up women’s groups as well as train public health midwives on health, nutrition, hygiene and counseling which will benefit entire communities.
The project will be monitored and managed by the Health Team of the Northern Provincial Council in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Finance Commission and other partners including UNICEF, WFP and WHO. The World Bank will provide necessary technical input and supervise project implementation and regularly update the Japanese Embassy which is the benefactor of the development trust.
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