Japan on Friday (20 May), announced a US$ 1.5 million (Rs 600 million) funding to help the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) respond to the ongoing economic crisis, the Japanese Embassy in Sri Lanka said.
The funds will be used by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide food assistance to children and families in need of support. Charge d’Affaires ad interim of the Japanese Embassy Kotaro Katsuki said, “We are pleased to announce that the Government of Japan (GoJ) will grant US$ 1.5 million emergency assistance through WFP to provide three months’ essential food supplies, including fortified rice, dhal and oil, for approximately 15,000 urban and rural people and 380,000 schoolchildren islandwide.
Japan has been extending vital protein to children through the provision of canned fish made in Japan worth a total of US$ 10 million as school meal programmes over the past 10 years. We hope that this humanitarian assistance will help improve food access and nutrition for the people of Sri Lanka amid the economic crisis.”
Sri Lanka has been severely impacted by a weakening economy, which has resulted in shortages of essential items, including food, and a spike in food prices, hindering families’ access to affordable, healthy meals, the Embassy said. Even before the pandemic, malnutrition rates were high among children and women. Some 40 per cent of primary-age children were too thin for their height.
WFP will use the contribution to procure rice for the national school meal programme to ensure children can continue receiving a significant portion of their daily energy and nutrition requirement through the free school meals, it said. It will also enable WFP to distribute ration packs comprising essential commodities to vulnerable households.
“Getting the right nutrition to those who need it the most will help mitigate the long-term effects of today’s economic downturn,” says Abdur Rahim Siddiqui, WFP Representative and Country Director in Sri Lanka. “WFP is grateful for Japan’s contribution at this critical hour. We thank Japan for its generosity and solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka. WFP will support the Sri Lankan Government with emergency food assistance based on assessments that identify the most pressing needs.”