MASERU – The Japanese government has contributed US$1.1 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) food assistance to some 61,000 food insecure children in Lesotho.
A ceremony in Maseru yesterday marked the contribution from Japan, which will be used to provide a highly nutritious porridge for some 11,000 children under the age of two in Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka and Mohale’s Hoek. The contribution will also provide a hot and nutritious daily meal for an additional 50,000 children attending early childhood care and development centres across Lesotho.
“To help achieve effective growth and development in children, WFP activities target the window of opportunity – the first 1,000 days of life – from conception until the age of two,” said WFP Lesotho Country Director Mary Njoroge. “This donation from Japan comes at a crucial time when WFP is experiencing funding shortfalls that impact our ability to support vulnerable children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Undernutrition remains one of Lesotho’s most significant development challenges, with nearly 20 percent of all child deaths associated with undernutrition.”
Japan has been a consistent donor to WFP in Sub-Saharan Africa, having contributed US$24 million to provide vital support to more than ten million hungry and vulnerable people in 2016. To alleviate the food shortage that has affected vulnerable people in Lesotho, Japan has provided US$8.7 million over the past five years to support WFP activities in the country.
“The past year has been very difficult for the people of Lesotho. The unprecedented El Niño-induced drought has severely affected the region and those who were already facing serious challenges caused by food insecurity,” said Shuichiro Kawaguchi, Minister Counsellor at the Embassy of Japan. “Japan will continue to strengthen the relationship with Lesotho as we have done in the past.”
Yet despite the efforts of WFP and its partners, a new study from the Lesotho Vulnerability and Assessment Committee estimates that the number of people expected to face chronic hunger will grow in the coming months. The new assessment estimates that the number of food insecure people will rise from 179,000 people (July-September 2017) to 224,000 people (October 2017-March 2018).
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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Kabelo Nkone, WFP/Lesotho, Tel. +266 2232 3989