Japan donates 388 tonnes of canned fish to Sri Lanka, WFP | Daily News


 

Providing assistance to school meal programmes

Japan donates 388 tonnes of canned fish to Sri Lanka, WFP

Director of Health and Nutrition at the Ministry of Education, Renuka Peiris; Charge d’Affaires ad interim of Japan to Sri Lanka, Kitamur Toshihiro; WFP Deputy Country Director of Sri Lanka, Andrea Berardo; Secretary of the Ministry of Education, N.H.M. Chitrananda; and Additional Secretary of School Activities at the Ministry of Education, L.M.W. Darmasena.

Director of Health and Nutrition at the Ministry of Education, Renuka Peiris; Charge d’Affaires ad interim of Japan to Sri Lanka, Kitamur Toshihiro; WFP Deputy Country Director of Sri Lanka, Andrea Berardo; Secretary of the Ministry of Education, N.H.M. Chitrananda; and Additional Secretary of School Activities at the Ministry of Education, L.M.W. Darmasena.

The Government of Japan has donated a large shipment of canned fish, weighing 388 metric tonnes and worth ¥300 million (Rs.519 million), to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Sri Lanka, to meet the protein needs of schoolchildren covered by the National School Meal Programme.

The donation was formalised at a ceremony held at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence in Colombo, at which the Exchange of Notes were signed by Kitamura Toshihiro, Charge d’Affaires ad interim of Japan to Sri Lanka; and Andrea Berardo, WFP Deputy Country Director of Sri Lanka. The event was presided over by N.H.M. Chitrananda, Secretary of the Ministry of Education; L.M.W. Darmasena, Additional Secretary of School Activities at the Ministry of Education; and Renuka Peiris, Director of Health and Nutrition at the Ministry of Education.

“The Governments of Sri Lanka and Japan have had a strong bond with a mutually supportive relationship between the people of our countries for many years,” Charge d’Affaires ad interim of Japan to Sri Lanka, Kitamur Toshihiro, said.

“The Government of Sri Lanka and its people demonstrated their solidarity to Japan in the immediate aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011, through a cash donation of US$1 million and three million tea bags. The canned fish provided by Japan is sourced from the areas supported by Sri Lanka, as an extension of the continuous supply provided by Japan, reflecting our appreciation of our Sri Lankan friends for lending a hand to Japan in times of need. We will continue to support Sri Lanka, in the spirit of unity and solidarity in our joint battle against the effects of COVID-19,” he added.

Through this agreement, the Government of Japan commits to making available to the Government of Sri Lanka—through the WFP—388 metric tonnes of canned fish; enough for the preparation of 19 million meals (rich in protein) for 270,000 schoolchildren. This latest contribution ensures that canned fish will continue to be offered to schoolchildren from 2021 – 2022, in addition to the previous consignment of canned fish supplied by the Government of Japan, which will last up to mid-2021.

“Nutritious meals are the foundation to good health, especially for children. This generous contribution from Japan comes at a crucial time when so many Sri Lankan families are hard-hit by COVID-19, with reduced incomes and job-loss. Fish is a great source of protein, and by including it in school meals, we can be certain that children will get the right nutrients they need to grow and develop,” WFP Deputy Country Director of Sri Lanka, Andrea Berardo, said.

A lack of adequate protein intake could result in several health issues amongst children, including slow growth, poor concentration, and decreased immunity. In Sri Lanka, nutrition surveys have indicated that 40% of primary-level schoolchildren were too thin prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Consumption of protein-rich foods, such as fish, is vital to help children meet their dietary requirements.

“The Government of Sri Lanka has been conducting the National School Meal Programme for several decades. The programme was developed with the objective of ensuring that children are healthy and can optimally benefit from the educational opportunities provided to them,” Secretary of the Ministry of Education, N.H.M. Chitrananda, said.

“We are thankful to the Government of Japan and the World Food Programme for providing canned fish to supplement the school meal programme, and for supporting us in enhancing the nutritional status of schoolchildren,” he added.

The National School Meal Programme, which the WFP has supported since 2003, was disrupted by COVID-19-induced school closures in March.

The Government of Japan, through the WFP, has been supporting the programme since 2011, with approximately 1,500 metric tonnes of canned fish worth more than ¥1 billion, to supplement school meals twice a week, adding diversity, nutrition, and taste.

The World Food Programme, together with the Government of Japan, has pledged to continue their support to the Government of Sri Lanka in its efforts to scale up and enhance the National School Meal Programme.


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