KIGALI -– The Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, today concluded a three-day visit to Rwanda, the final stop on her three-nation visit to Africa, focused on sustainable local solutions for hunger and undernutrition.
In Rwanda, Cousin met face-to-face with people who have received WFP support in diverse ways, including refugees who have fled fighting in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who told her that WFP’s monthly food rations are a lifeline without which they would struggle to survive.
“I met with displaced people and refugees on both sides of the DRC-Rwanda border, and they had one message: they want peace, and peace that will last, so they can return to their families and their homes,” Cousin said.
She also met with Rwandans who have been working to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty through projects focused on reducing chronic malnutrition and improving food security and livelihoods.
“What has been clear to me on this visit is the breadth and diversity of WFP’s work,” said Cousin before departing from Kigali. “Here in Rwanda, WFP is providing the life-saving food assistance that we are known for to tens of thousands of refugees, but we and our partners are also supporting community-based agriculture and livelihoods projects that assist the poorest and most vulnerable Rwandans as they build a brighter future for their families.”
“When speaking with small-scale farmers and rural families, I could see very clearly the difference that rural development initiatives have made in helping people improve their lives,” Cousin said. “I met one woman farmer who started with nearly nothing, and now has become so successful that she’s been able to build her family a new house, and put her children though school.”
“The progress that is being made on development in Rwanda illustrates the importance of close and effective partnerships between UN agencies, communities and governments in helping people lift themselves out of poverty,” she added.
The WFP Executive Director visited the Nkamira refugee transit centre and a successful terracing and watershed management project in Rulindo district, in northern Rwanda. She also visited and spoke with farmers in eastern Rwanda who belong to an agricultural cooperative in Kirehe district through which they are selling their surplus maize and beans to WFP via the Purchase for Progress initiative, known as P4P.
P4P aims to use WFP’s purchasing power to help connect smallholder farmers to markets. In Rwanda, the P4P programme has grown from a WFP project into a truly national initiative. Productivity has increased so much that cooperative members are finding other customers besides WFP to purchase their surplus crops, and the markets have responded. P4P in Rwanda has been implemented sustainably, and has made a measurable improvement in the lives and livelihoods of small-scale farmers. Since 2011, WFP has purchased 33,000 metric tons of combined food commodities -- maize and beans -- worth US$15.5 million, through a combination of P4P purchases and regular food procurement.
WFP and the Rwandan government are exploring ways to link the P4P programme to food-for-education initiatives, to provide students with a daily school meal grown right in their own communities and turn schools into regular customers for local farmers.
WFP provides food assistance to 173,000 people including refugees and primary school children in Rwanda, where strong partnerships between UN agencies and the government are a cornerstone of the development agenda. This month, WFP started implementing a Common Country Programme together with UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UNWOMEN. This joint approach will multiply the impact of the agencies’ efforts to prevent chronic malnutrition, improve livelihoods and food security, and enhance government capacity on food assistance, food security analysis, disaster risk management, P4P and school feeding.
This visit was Cousin’s first to Rwanda as Executive Director of WFP. While in the country, she met with top government officials, including Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, and with the heads of UN agencies in Rwanda.
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For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org):
John Paul Sesonga, WFP/Kigali; Tel. +250 788 614 698,
Challiss McDonough, WFP/Nairobi (in Kigali), Tel. 254 707 722 104
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 20 72409001, Mob. +44 7968 008474
Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Tel. 1 202 6531149 Mob. 202-770-5993