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A step forward for the health of Sri Lanka’s children, thanks to US$2.3 million from the Japan Committee for UNICEF

COLOMBO, 12 September 2006 – The Japan Committee for UNICEF has contributed US$2.3 million to help boost children’s nutrition, as well as improve water and sanitation for families and thousands of school children in Sri Lanka.

Over US$1 million will go towards improving maternal and child nutrition, an area where Sri Lanka faces many challenges - nearly one third of women are anaemic and undernourished and around 17 per cent of Sri Lankan babies are born with low birth weight.  One in three children under five years of age is underweight.

As a result of the new funding, there will be, increased visits by Public Health Midwives to homes and communities to provide home-based care and promote maternal and child nutrition, strengthened support to pregnant women at health care centres, including an improved supply of vital micronutrients, communication campaigns aimed at newly-wed couples and expectant parents, and improved growth monitoring for children.

US$1 million will go towards children and families in conflict-affected areas in the North and East.  The funding will help 400 families in Mannar and Vavuniya resettle in their home villages by constructing safe water and sanitation facilities.  Hygiene promotion activities will prevent water-borne diseases.  16,000 schoolchildren will benefit from the construction of new toilet facilities in 30 schools.

US$200,000 will go towards improving water and sanitation facilities at the Vavuniya District Hospital, including the construction of rainwater harvesting systems and a sewage treatment plant.

“We believe these newly funded projects will make a real difference to the lives of children and their families in Sri Lanka.  Helping improve nutrition for children and mothers is one of UNICEF’s major priorities, and providing good water and sanitation facilities is a key way to help  conflict affected families re-settle,” says Joanna VanGerpen, UNICEF Representative in Sri Lanka.

The Japan Committee for UNICEF is one of 37 national committees based in the industrialized countries which raise funds to support the organization’s work for children.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
 Junko Mitani, Communication Officer, UNICEF Sri Lanka, tel: 94-11-2555270 ext 250 Mobile: 94-(0)-777416742

 Harasha Gunewardene, Media Consultant, UNICEF Sri Lanka, tel: 94-11 2555276 ext 305 Mobile: 94-(0)-77 3733 781




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