Apr 13, Colombo: The World Bank, whose mission is to increase the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of people in every country and reduce poverty, is working to alleviate poverty in Sri Lanka's poorest, the upcountry estate community.
As part of its goal to end extreme poverty or reduce the share of the global population that lives in extreme poverty to 3 percent by 2030, the World Bank recently carried out a multisector nutrition assessment in Sri Lanka's estate sector.
While a recent poverty assessment carried out by the World Bank found that poverty rates have improved significantly across Sri Lanka in the last decade, it also has identified that residents of the estate sector are still among the poorest in the country, according to the World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough.
According to the study, the poverty head count (the proportion of a population that exists, or lives, below the 'poverty line') in the estate sector is 21 percent while urban and rural poverty are 8.1 and 4.6 percent respectively.
In a blog extending greetings to "Happy New Year to all our Sri Lankan friends and colleagues celebrating the Sinhala and Tamil New Year this month; and Happy Easter to those celebrating it," Ms. Pswarayi-Riddihough said If Sri Lanka is to prosper as a country, no one should be left behind.
Among the key findings of the World Bank report is that Sri Lanka's estates are still home to many malnourished mothers and children under 5.
Although housing in Sri Lanka's estates has improved, the report explores why the malnutrition has not improved.
It has found that in Sri Lanka's estates, a lack of money is not the sole cause of a poor diet.
In Sri Lanka's estate sector, low birth weight rates are 2.4 times higher than in cities and 36 percent of children in Sri Lanka's estates are still stunted, the study found.
According to the World Bank assessments study, poor nutrition in Sri Lanka's estates may be a key driver of national malnutrition levels and resolving undernutrition in Sri Lanka's estates will require multi-pronged strategies.
Last month, Ms. Pswarayi-Riddihough had visited Hatton and interacted with a "dynamic" group of young people from the estates under a partnership initiative with Sarvodaya.
This project was a pilot innovation to see if the World Bank could find joint solutions to the malnutrition issue with the community, using the study findings as a base.
"In a period of less than a month, this group of young animators from the estates learnt how to use technology to effectively reach the community to discuss malnutrition, a tough subject matter to address with people they know intimately," the World bank Country Director said.
The youth group used the opportunity to also advocate for changes in behaviors, such as prioritizing giving children and pregnant mothers a balanced diet; access to clean water through in-home treatment such as boiling; promoting home gardens, amongst others. They reached schools, homes and neighborhoods, engaged plantations' management and communities.
This initiative was made possible with support from a multi-donor trust fund known as the South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (SAFANSI).
Ms. Pswarayi-Riddihough has emphasized two key messages with the youths; it's important that they see themselves as champions for poverty reduction and better nutrition in their homes and neighborhoods; and that through education they can help eliminate poverty - including nutrition poverty.
More can be learned about the group and to learn more, engage and encourage these young people by visiting their Facebook page.