Tackling Sri Lanka’s Malnutrition Burden: Roar Partners with WFP on World Food Day 2020

Roar Studios
March 22, 2021

Here at Roar, our work is impact-driven. With each campaign and collaboration, our aim is to tell stories that help create real change, both online and offline. Working towards this in 2020, Roar Media and Roar Studios jointly tied up with the World Food Programme Sri Lanka to carry out one of our most impactful campaigns to date.

Background

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation that works internationally to save lives in emergencies and use food assistance to build a pathway to peace and stability. In 2020, WFP was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger and its contribution to bettering conditions for peace.

In Sri Lanka, their work has had clear, tangible impact. Since 1968, WFP Sri Lanka has been working with the Government of Sri Lanka to provide support in achieving food security for all populations in Sri Lanka. Their work centers on school feeding, resilience building and livelihood support, emergency preparedness, and social protection. In recent years, one of their primary objectives has been to address the underlying causes of malnutrition in the country. 

Unknown to many, malnutrition is a highly prevalent and persistent problem in Sri Lanka. Research shows that amongst other factors, the dietary habits of Sri Lankans have led to an unfortunate cycle of malnutrition. In conjunction, the agricultural sector produces and supplies foods based on this public demand, inadvertently contributing to this cycle.

Every year, WFP commemorates World Food Day on the 16th of October with a unique theme at its core. ‘Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future’ was the theme of 2020, highlighting the importance of food, agriculture, and the world’s #FoodHeroes who nourish their communities, and thus the world. 

Working together, Roar and WFP Sri Lanka identified World Food Day 2020 as the ideal opportunity for a digital campaign to raise awareness on three objectives: to teach Sri Lankans to be more aware of the long-term health consequences of the food they consume, encourage home gardening amongst Sri Lankans, and encourage the Sri Lankan public to begin consuming more nutritious foods and meals.

In the long-term, the campaign aimed to help increase public demand for nutritious foods, thus encouraging the agricultural sector to broaden their focus on the production of nutritious foods.

So how did we go about this? 

Through a carefully curated mix of different content formats, a unique campaign approach was formulated. Content that was produced by our Roar Studios teams was published on Roar Media’s English, Sinhala, and Tamil platforms. Each individual piece of content aimed to be engaging, with either an informative or storytelling format. For amplification, these content pieces were reshared on WFP Sri Lanka’s existing social media pages as well. 

Published on World Food Day, a short text-based video condensed the issue of Sri Lanka’s malnutrition burden and the impact of nutrition-based agriculture in an easy-to-consume and engaging format. This was supported by an article which delved deeper into the issue.

Further working to inform audiences on food wastage, consumption habits, and home gardening, three series of infographics were developed. Visual appeal and key information were the main components here, creating bite-sized pieces of content that captured the attention of our audiences, prompting them to read up more on the topic. 

Perhaps the most engaging of all, a series of photo-based story posts were shared on our social media platforms. Each told the story of different #FoodHeroes, from organisations working to reduce food wastage to vegetable vendors and home gardeners around the island who were sustaining their communities, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020.

The Robin Hood Army (RHA) Sri Lanka team distributing food during a night drive
The Saaraketha packhouse, where produce is brought in from small-holder farms across the country.

As we rounded off the campaign, we realised that the numbers spoke for themselves. While some content pieces aimed to tell unique stories and others aimed to simply inform, their reach was undeniable. Our articles gained a total number of 78,024 impressions, our videos 255,138 impressions, while our graphic posts collectively gained 5,805,209 impressions. 

But, numbers aside, we believe this campaign did much more. Affecting societal change through impactful storytelling is our primary goal, and our partnership with WFP Sri Lanka enabled both organisations to do just that - to take this one step further.

Perhaps the most tangible impact we noted came in the form of a delightful piece of news. Amongst our many photo-based stories, one featured the incredible story of Nandamalini, a lady from Thanamalwila who is a participant of WFP’s Home Grown School Feeding Programme.

Garusinghage Nandamalini, WIM’s ‘Social Worker of the Year’
Nandamalini’s dedication towards growing produce to feed school children led to her being nominated for the Women in Management’s Top 50 Professional and Career Women Awards. She was subsequently awarded the ‘Social Worker of the Year’.

Her award is testimony to the impact of content developed and amplified by Roar Media, which provided Nandamalini with a platform to share her story and be recognised as an everyday Food Hero.

- Tanya Jansz, Communications Officer at UNWFP Sri Lanka. 

The World Food Day Campaign, in collaboration with WFP Sri Lanka, is just one example of the kind of work Roar Studios strives to do. It is merely the beginning of what we hope to accomplish in the future, together with organisations who are passionate about truly making a difference. 

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