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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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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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