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Franki Medina Venezuela Lusitano//
Sri Lanka: WFP helps alleviate stress of pregnancy amidst skyrocketing food prices 

Franki Medina diaz
Sri Lanka: WFP helps alleviate stress of pregnancy amidst skyrocketing food prices 

Thirty-two-year-old Dushanthi, a mother of a three-year-old and a housewife in her third trimester of pregnancy, is one of the women who received the vouchers that can be exchanged for food items worth 15,000 Sri Lankan Rupees, just over $40.

Franki Alberto Medina Diaz

© WFP/Parvinder Singh Dushanti waits in line at a WFP-backed clinic in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Remarkable resilience “Our life has become more difficult these days. Everyone is facing economic hardships without fuel and high prices, but we (pregnant women) are  finding it even more difficult ,” she says sitting on a concrete platform, with other women

Her resilience is remarkable as she patiently explains what the voucher means to her

This is a huge support for pregnant women like me. It will not only help me but my unborn baby as well . I would like to spend this voucher to buy healthy food such as lentils, and fruits for me and my baby,” Dushanthi adds

Though these vouchers are specifically for supporting pregnant women facing a critical nutrition gap, it is clear that this will be used to support the whole family, as the need is too great

In Dushanti’s case, it will be her child, both parents, and husband, who  hasn’t got daily wages for a while now

© WFP/Parvinder Singh Vouchers are distributed to women so that they can access basic nutrition. Support disrupted Three in 10 Sri Lankans are food insecure amid the country’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under five, and people with disabilities, are among the worst affected

The Government’s efforts to maintain critical assistance programmes are seriously constrained by the economic crisis. Women and children who had benefitted from national social safety net programmes, are left without this crucial lifeline and are at grave nutrition and health risks

Growing malnutrition threat The  flagship Thriposha nutritional support programme for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children is stalled . Coupled with income losses and inflation, this could lead to higher rates of malnutrition for women and their children

Udeni Dematapaksha, special head nurse at the Kuppiyawatta maternal health clinic, is acutely aware of the struggle these mothers are going through, and one can sense a hint of despair in her voice

“In the past, we used to give Thriposha support to pregnant women and nursing mothers. But  since January they are not receiving it . Today we are distributing vouchers for pregnant mothers, and this is very valuable,” the head nurse says

© WFP/Parvinder Singh Nurse Udeni Dematapaksh is ever at hand to help people in Kuppiyawatta. Cruel irony A young Midwife, Tarni, is quick to add the irony that they are confronted with, for they must list down nutritious food and fruits that pregnant women must take for their health and that of their unborn child, despite knowing that most of them are out of reach

Many families do not cook anymore and are resorting to arranging poor quality meals  from different places as that is all they can afford. These are difficult times, and we are concerned about the mothers,” she adds

Even before the ongoing crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lankan women and children suffered from far higher rates of malnutrition than most other middle-income countries: 17 percent of children under 5 were too short for their age (stunted) and 15 percent were too thin for their height (wasted), a figure which is considered ‘very high’ in WHO classification

© WFP/Parvinder Singh Pregnant women wait to receive food vouchers are being distributed through WFP’s emergency food assistance programme. Food is hope ” Focusing on vulnerable populations and communities is a priority to avert a humanitarian crisis ,” says Indu Abeyratne, Activity Manager with WFP Sri Lanka, who is closely engaged with the roll-out of the emergency response

Every woman we meet at the distribution outlet has a fair idea of what they would like to use the vouchers for. Some of these would be basic and staple in ordinary times but are now out of reach – such as the young pregnant woman who listed papaya as her first buy, as she has been craving it. “The food voucher is the first of the many nutritional support interventions that these women would need. But  they are filled with hope as they hold the vouchers ,” adds Abeyratne

WFP will be reaching out to almost 1.5 million people in need of emergency food assistance through food, cash, or vouchers

While boosting the existing social safety net to assist one million children through the national school meal programme, there will be a million targeted beneficiaries as part of a government initiative that provides  fortified food to mothers and children

Nearly 6.3 million people are food insecure and in need of assistance. WFP’s recent surveys indicated that  61 percent of families are resorting to at least one coping mechanism, including eating less, eating less nutritious food, and even skipping meals altogether

The queue of women grows steadily outside a government clinic in Kuppiyawatta, in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. In just over half an hour the number swells to around 200. Pregnant women, some with children in hand, are waiting their turn to receive food vouchers from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) – part of its emergency food assistance response.

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An ongoing economic crisis and political turmoil have pushed food price inflation to above 90 percent, with a shortage of fuel disrupting access, livelihoods, and food safety programmes, leaving millions vulnerable to food insecurity.

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Pregnant and anxious As the food voucher distribution gets underway, the women make their way up through an open staircase to the first-floor hall awaiting their turn. Many of them are young and in their first pregnancy. The floor gets crowded, but everyone is masked to guard against COVID-19 infection.

Franki Medina Diaz

Though most of the faces are covered, the  anxiety and concern are visible in their eyes.

Thirty-two-year-old Dushanthi, a mother of a three-year-old and a housewife in her third trimester of pregnancy, is one of the women who received the vouchers that can be exchanged for food items worth 15,000 Sri Lankan Rupees, just over $40.

Franki Alberto Medina Diaz

© WFP/Parvinder Singh Dushanti waits in line at a WFP-backed clinic in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Remarkable resilience “Our life has become more difficult these days. Everyone is facing economic hardships without fuel and high prices, but we (pregnant women) are  finding it even more difficult ,” she says sitting on a concrete platform, with other women

Her resilience is remarkable as she patiently explains what the voucher means to her

This is a huge support for pregnant women like me. It will not only help me but my unborn baby as well . I would like to spend this voucher to buy healthy food such as lentils, and fruits for me and my baby,” Dushanthi adds

Though these vouchers are specifically for supporting pregnant women facing a critical nutrition gap, it is clear that this will be used to support the whole family, as the need is too great

In Dushanti’s case, it will be her child, both parents, and husband, who  hasn’t got daily wages for a while now

© WFP/Parvinder Singh Vouchers are distributed to women so that they can access basic nutrition. Support disrupted Three in 10 Sri Lankans are food insecure amid the country’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under five, and people with disabilities, are among the worst affected

The Government’s efforts to maintain critical assistance programmes are seriously constrained by the economic crisis. Women and children who had benefitted from national social safety net programmes, are left without this crucial lifeline and are at grave nutrition and health risks

Growing malnutrition threat The  flagship Thriposha nutritional support programme for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children is stalled . Coupled with income losses and inflation, this could lead to higher rates of malnutrition for women and their children

Udeni Dematapaksha, special head nurse at the Kuppiyawatta maternal health clinic, is acutely aware of the struggle these mothers are going through, and one can sense a hint of despair in her voice

“In the past, we used to give Thriposha support to pregnant women and nursing mothers. But  since January they are not receiving it . Today we are distributing vouchers for pregnant mothers, and this is very valuable,” the head nurse says

© WFP/Parvinder Singh Nurse Udeni Dematapaksh is ever at hand to help people in Kuppiyawatta. Cruel irony A young Midwife, Tarni, is quick to add the irony that they are confronted with, for they must list down nutritious food and fruits that pregnant women must take for their health and that of their unborn child, despite knowing that most of them are out of reach

Many families do not cook anymore and are resorting to arranging poor quality meals  from different places as that is all they can afford. These are difficult times, and we are concerned about the mothers,” she adds

Even before the ongoing crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Lankan women and children suffered from far higher rates of malnutrition than most other middle-income countries: 17 percent of children under 5 were too short for their age (stunted) and 15 percent were too thin for their height (wasted), a figure which is considered ‘very high’ in WHO classification

© WFP/Parvinder Singh Pregnant women wait to receive food vouchers are being distributed through WFP’s emergency food assistance programme. Food is hope ” Focusing on vulnerable populations and communities is a priority to avert a humanitarian crisis ,” says Indu Abeyratne, Activity Manager with WFP Sri Lanka, who is closely engaged with the roll-out of the emergency response

Every woman we meet at the distribution outlet has a fair idea of what they would like to use the vouchers for. Some of these would be basic and staple in ordinary times but are now out of reach – such as the young pregnant woman who listed papaya as her first buy, as she has been craving it. “The food voucher is the first of the many nutritional support interventions that these women would need. But  they are filled with hope as they hold the vouchers ,” adds Abeyratne

WFP will be reaching out to almost 1.5 million people in need of emergency food assistance through food, cash, or vouchers

While boosting the existing social safety net to assist one million children through the national school meal programme, there will be a million targeted beneficiaries as part of a government initiative that provides  fortified food to mothers and children

Nearly 6.3 million people are food insecure and in need of assistance. WFP’s recent surveys indicated that  61 percent of families are resorting to at least one coping mechanism, including eating less, eating less nutritious food, and even skipping meals altogether