ANTANANARIVO – The Government of Japan has contributed US$900,000 (nearly two billion Malagasy ariary) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for assistance through food-for-work activities for 62,000 people in disaster-prone areas in the south and south-east of Madagascar.
WFP’s food-for-work projects are implemented in partnership with the National Disaster Management Agency and with national and international non-governmental organizations. The activities are designed to strengthen communities’ resilience to natural disasters while their food security is improved through food distributions during the lean season, generally lasting from October to March.
Food-for-work schemes include reforestation as well as the construction or rehabilitation of community assets such as irrigation and drainage canals, rural roads and water catchment systems. In the cyclone- and flood-prone southeast of the country, food-for-work helps empower female heads of households through training in so-called ‘short-cycle farming’ using improved agricultural techniques. This helps women increase crop production, raise revenues and strengthen their households’ ability to withstand future shocks.
“Japan’s contribution comes at a critical time to assist communities affected by multiple shocks including last year’s erratic rainfall and locust infestation which damaged the 2013 harvest,” says WFP Country Representative Willem van Milink. “WFP’s assistance aims to ensure that the most vulnerable families have a nutritious diet, and this in turn helps them recover from the effects of natural disasters and reduces their vulnerability to any future shock.”
“Agriculture is one of our priority areas for bilateral cooperation in Madagascar,” says Japanese Ambassador HE Ryuhei Hosoya. “That is why Japan is strengthening its commitment in cooperation with WFP and other partners to boost food security on the island.”
Food-for-work activities are principally for households headed by women, alongside those with elderly, ill or disabled people, as well as families with many members and malnourished children.
Food security and agriculture are priority issues for the Government of Japan, which is among the largest donors to WFP operations in Madagascar. Since 2012, Japan has contributed some US$3 million (nearly seven billion Malagasy ariary) to WFP’s relief and recovery programmes. Japan has consistently demonstrated global leadership in emergency relief, food security, poverty reduction and climate change. Geographically, it focuses on Asia and Africa.
At a time when nearly a quarter of the Malagasy population is food-insecure, WFP’s programmes in the country are experiencing funding shortfalls. As a result, WFP can only assist half the vulnerable people (400,000 of 800,000) it intended to reach and needs US$16 million (nearly 42 billion Malagasy ariary) to continue activities until the end of the year. Nevertheless, WFP is pursuing efforts to raise funds to continue its various programmes: food/cash for work; school meals; nutritional support to malnourished HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients; and supplementary feeding for pregnant/nursing mothers and children under two years of age.