The multi-sectoral project, based on key findings from a rapid assessment undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and WFP in August 2018 in which the negative impact of last year’s erratic rainfall on agricultural production levels in the country was confirmed, aims to respond to the nutritional and livelihood needs of affected farming communities in the two districts.
With a contribution of $1.5 million (¥168,000,000) from the Government of Japan, more than 36,000 people will be supported to build resilience for a period of one year through an integrated package of nutrition, school feeding and livelihood support to foster recovery and build long-term resilience to future shocks.
“This generous donation from Japan comes in time to help people who lost their crops due to unpredictable weather conditions and face an early onset of the lean season,” said Yasuhiro Tsumura, WFP Representative a.i at the launch ceremony held in Freetown.
Adding that WFP was very grateful to Japan and considered it as a sign of trust in WFP’s operational capacity, efficiency and accountability and determined to strengthen the partnership with Japan in the spirit of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development which will have its 7th meeting in Japan in August 2019.
“Japan will continue to support the Government of Sierra Leone in the areas of health and nutrition improvement through such collaboration,” said Hiroki Yamashita, first Secretary, Embassy of Japan on behalf of the Ambassador of Japan to Sierra Leone.
Over 16,000 pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and children aged 6-23 months will receive specialized nutritious foods to prevent stunting while more than 14,000 primary school children in government-assisted schools will receive daily hot meal to increase enrolment and improve attendance. Some 56,000 food insecure smallholder farmers will be supported to grow bio-fortified orange-fleshed sweet potato, yellow fleshed cassava and establish fruit tree plantations and woodlots as well as develop small-scale irrigation lowland irrigation structures for year-round cultivation of rice.
“This project is a step in the right direction as Government is currently working to strengthen disaster and risk management systems to militate against natural disasters or shocks,” said Dr. Alpha Wurie, Minister of Health and Sanitation.
Also present at ceremony was the Deputy Minister Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary school Education, Mrs. Emily Gogra who said:“There is a direct correlation between increases in percentage attendance and school feeding. WFP has been a critical partner to the Ministry.”
Whilst Chief Agriculture Officer, Mr. Idara Sheriff commended the project design, stating that “an intervention of this nature cannot come at a better time”.