Govt. steps up efforts to ensure food security, nutrition
The Government is stepping up efforts to ensure food security and nutrition via a 10-year strategy that seeks to push for a steady supply chain and nourishment for all citizens.
A 10-year National Nutrition Policy as well as a two-year multi-sectoral integrated mechanism for food security and nutrition initiative will be launched immediately, Ministry of Health sources said.
Through the 10-year national initiative, the Government intends to provide foolproof solutions for the numerous issues that affect the continuity of a better nutrition level for all citizens, whilst maintaining a steady food supply chain to secure healthy food consumption lifestyles, and to boost the contribution of the social and economic development of Sri Lanka.
A multi-sectoral integrated program will also be implemented in the next two years, as an urgent measure to ensure food security and nutrition.
The short-term initiative will be spearheaded by the National Food Security and Nutrition Council through the Provincial, District, Divisional, and Grama Niladhari Division levels to ensure that it covers all vulnerable groups in society.
The moves come into effect after the World Food Program (WFP) in its latest report noted that 6.3 million Sri Lankans have been rendered food insecure, meaning that they cannot access a nutritious diet on a daily basis.
Medical Research Institute (MRI) Nutrition Department Head Dr. Renuka Jayatissa recently told journalists that around 14% of Sri Lankan households were poor and the children in these families were vulnerable to malnutrition.
The WFP is working towards solutions to the current food supply shortage, as the economic crisis has impacted numerous sectors across Sri Lanka, including nutrition security.
While claiming that millions of the poorest Sri Lankans can no longer afford an adequate diet, a top official of the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) expressed fear that the “situation may get worse in the weeks to come.”
“This makes WFP’s response extremely critical. Our priority is to reach families with life-saving food and nutrition assistance, with children and women at the heart of our response,” WFP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific John Aylieff said, concluding a two-day visit to Sri Lanka.
The latest WFP surveys show that hunger is rising sharply in Sri Lanka, where nearly half of the households interviewed were facing challenges in accessing food, amid income losses, record levels of food price inflation.
This situation has arisen due to disruptions to the food supply chain and severe shortages of basic commodities including fuel,” the WFP said in a statement at the conclusion of the official’s visit.
During his discussion with a group of recipients of WFP’s assistance, Aylieff heard first-hand accounts of how the deepening food crisis is impacting them.
Four out of five households are limiting portion sizes and skipping meals to cope, a significant number of urban households are among them.
Aylieff who met Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Sabry, discussed the immediate priorities in addressing food insecurity in Sri Lanka.