First batch of food aid from Japan arrives

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The first tranche of food assistance pledged by the Government of Japan earlier this year was received on Monday (29) through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to Sri Lanka, where more than six million people – nearly 30 per cent of the population, are facing a worsening food crisis, Japan’s Embassy in Sri Lanka in a statement said.

Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka Mizukoshi Hideaki handed over the donation to Trade, Commerce and Food Security Minister Nalin Fernando, Minister in the presence of WFP Representative and Country Director Abdur Rahim Siddiqui during a ceremony held at the Ministry in Colombo.  

The first tranche forms part of the donation comprising rice, lentils and oil, and valued at USD 1.5 million, which will be distributed by WFP to  15,000 people in both urban and rural areas as well as to 380,000 schoolchildren.  

Hideaki speaking at this occasion said, “It is our great honour that we are able to handover the first tranche of essential food supplies today with the rapid procurement of WFP which will be delivered to vulnerable families and children countrywide who are facing extreme hardship, amidst prevailing food shortages and soaring food prices during this unprecedented economic crisis. We hope that this humanitarian assistance will provide relief to all the people in need and help them meet their daily nutritional requirement.”  

“I thank the people of Japan for this timely contribution. The Japanese Government was one of the first to pledge support to WFP’s appeal. The donation will go a long way in addressing Sri Lanka’s growing food insecurity while shortages of food and other essentials and skyrocketing prices continue to impact millions of people’s ability to maintain an adequate and nutritious diet,” said WFP’s Siddiqui.  

 A recent survey by WFP and FAO indicates that many of the households – over 60 per cent – are resorting to coping mechanisms, such as reducing portion sizes and eating less nutritious food which could aggravate the already-high malnutrition rates among women and children, the Embassy said.  

In response, WFP is mobilising funds and support to provide emergency assistance to 3.4 million people, including 1.4 million people who are in dire need of emergency food assistance, through food, cash or voucher assistance as well one million schoolchildren and one million pregnant and breastfeeding women by supporting the existing national social safety net programmes.

(PA)