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Canada contributes CAD 1 million to WFP to support the national school meal program

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Two farmers from Manmunai West, Batticaloa who are currently engaged in WFP’s resilience building project which promotes sustainable agriculture

COLOMBO – The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the Government of Sri Lanka welcome a funding of CAD 1 million (LKR 151 million) from Global Affairs Canada to help smallholder farmers cultivate nutritious crops for the National School Meal Program.

Responding to the impacts of Covid-19, the Home Grown School Feeding project will provide nutritious and safe school meals to vulnerable primary school children by linking the National School Meal Program with local smallholder farmers. The project will benefit an estimated 1,700 female farmers and 170,000 children in several districts across the Northern, Eastern and North Central provinces.

The Home Grown School Feeding project is an innovative approach and the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. It is designed to boost local economy and improve the nutritional status of communities in regions with poor nutrition standards and high levels of poverty. By purchasing produce for the school meals from local smallholder farmers residing in the vicinity of the schools, the project creates a predictable outlet for farmers and a stable income while stimulating local production of nutrient-dense crops.

The funding from Canada will benefit an estimated 170,000 primary grade school children who receive free meals in school, by ensuring that the meals provided are nutritious, diverse, fresh and culturally appropriate. The meals are also an incentive for families to send their children, especially girls, to school.

The project focuses on empowering women and contributing to gender equality. The smallholder farmers selected for the project will be primarily women, mostly mothers of the school children, from some of the poorest households who have been hard hit by Covid-19’s impact on food systems. The project includes community engagement and behaviour change campaigns to address disproportionate workload and care responsibilities placed on women, while enhancing nutrition education and promoting better eating habits. The project will also assist in building resilience of farmers to recurring climate shocks by boosting productivity of family farms.

“Canada is pleased to re-engage with WFP in supporting the Government of Sri Lanka to improve nutrition among school children and food security in Sri Lanka, both of which were negatively impacted by Covid-19,” says Canadian High Commissioner, David McKinnon. “This is great for Sri Lanka’s agricultural self-sufficiency and for girls’ retention in schools, especially in these Covid times.”

“Sri Lanka welcomes Canada’s support to supplement the current nutrition program for school children,” says Piyal Nishantha de Silva, State Minister of Women and Child Development, Pre-school and Primary Education, School Infrastructure and School Services.

“We invest considerable resources in the National School Meal Program and we welcome WFP’s assistance to make it more effective and sustainable. This program will also boost local economies and help alleviate poverty among rural communities.”

“Covid-19 has highlighted vulnerabilities within our food systems and calls for urgent interventions to strengthen the path of food from farm to table,” says Andrea Berardo, Deputy Country Director of WFP Sri Lanka. “Part of the solution lies in creating a formal structure to place smallholder farmers at the centre of food systems, ensuring that regular supply meets regular demand. By harnessing WFP’s expertise in food and nutrition, the Home Grown School Feeding project creates diverse benefits to improve the livelihoods and nutrition standards among entire communities.”

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Lawyers request CJ to decide if political victimisation PCoI report amounts to contempt of court

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by A. J. A. Abeynayake

Four lawyers yesterday complained to Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, requesting an investigation to determine whether the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, which probed political victimisation under the previous government, amount to contempt of court.

The four petitioners, Senaka Perera, Achala Seneviratne, Namal Rajapaksa and Thambiah Jeyaratnaraja have, in their complaint, stated they are of the view that the final recommendations of the Commission, which probed the period from January 8, 2015 to November 19, 2019, amounted to contempt of court and were inimical to the judicial system.

The lawyers have also requested that the Chief Justice pay attention to the recommendation by the commission that R. Duminda Silva be exonerated from all charges against him and the recommendation that Attorney General request that a full bench of the Supreme Court conduct a judicial review of the death sentence passed on Silva.

The lawyers pointed out that if an accused is not satisfied with a judgement delivered against him, he could request for a fuller bench to hear his case, but a third party cannot request a review of the verdict. The petitioners have also said that the Commission with its recommendations has caused an affront to the dignity of the court, its independence and the trust of the people.

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Amaraweera plans to ban certain types of plastic, polythene

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Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera examining some eco-friendly products that can be used in place of polythene and plastic.  Picture shows some such products.

Been there, heard that – environmentalists

By Ifham Nizam

The Environment Ministry yesterday reiterated that steps would be taken to ban the use of several types of plastic and polythene in the country from the end of this month.

Contacted for comment, environmentalists said that they had heard similar pledges to ban those products by previous Environment Ministers, but there had been no bans.

Previous Environment Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who even promised to ban asbestos besides harmful types of plastic and polythene had done absolutely nothing, they said adding that “He as the President of the country failed to ship back even the toxic garbage containers dumped here by the UK”.

Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera yesterday said the items to be banned would include disposable polythene and plastic, PET bottles (Poly Ethylene Terephthalate), lunch sheets thinner than 20 microns, sachets, excluding Food and Drug packaging, cotton buds, and inflatable plastic toys.

Amaraweera said that the focus of businesses on new alternatives to plastics and polythene was seen as a way to protect the environment.

The release of excessive amounts of plastics and polythene materials into the environment caused environmental degradation, the Minister said.

The Environment Ministry is having discussions with various stakeholders to introduce eco-friendly alternative products.

Amaraweera last week had a meeting with several private sector entrepreneurs.

Some industrialists also presented to the Minister some of the eco-friendly products they were using.

Plans are afoot to prepare a list of several plastic and polythene products, to be banned from March 31. About 350 products would be banned before the end of the current year, the Minister said.

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Fishing cats victims of mistaken identify 

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Villagers kill them as they resemble leopard cubs

By Ifham Nizam

The killing of fishing cats (Prionailurus viverrinus) is on the rise countrywide mainly because they resemble leopard cubs. They also end up as road kill.

The Sinhala term for fishing cats–– ‘Handun Diviya’––gives the jitters to many villagers who fear that the animals are leopards and a threat to them, according to researcher cum conservationist Chaminda Jayasekara.

Following the death of a farmer in a leopard attack recently, fishing cats are also being increasingly targeted and killed especially in some parts of the hill country.

“In some parts of Nawalapitiya, children fear to go out when word gets around that ‘Handun Diviyas’ were lurking in the vicinity,” Jayasekera said.

The killing of fishing cats happen primarily because some people assume that they could harm them as the animals are often misidentified as leopard cubs. This happens especially in the tea plantation areas due to the lack of knowledge of the species, Jayasekera stressed.

A large number of reptiles, small mammals and birds continue to perish on roads because when highways and other roads are built, only the safety of humans is taken into consideration, according to Jayasekera.

Naturalist cum author, Rajika Gamage yesterday told The Island that when highways were constructed here unlike in other parts of the world green highway concept was ignored. “There should be tunnels to give safe passage for small animals,” he said.

More than dozens of fishing cats were being killed recently in road accidents or in attacks by villagers, he too said.

A dead fishing cat had been found last week near the Log Hill tea estate belonging to the Mayfield estate in Kotagala, Hatton, Dimbula Police said.

Police believe the animal may have died in a road mishap.

 

 

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