M30 million for Lesotho’s school feeding support


Staff Reporter

MASERU – The World Food Programme (WFP) yesterday welcomed a US$1.7 million contribution from the Government of Japan to support the provision of daily meals to some 50,000 pre-primary school learners in Early Childhood Care and Development Centres (ECCDs) countrywide and the training of 300 farmers in the Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing regions over the next 12 months. The funding allows for the continuation of a Japan-backed project, initiated in 2019, where WFP helps strengthen the capacities of Lesotho’s Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) to facilitate the provision of nutritious food in ECCDs.

“We thank the Government of Japan for its ongoing, timely support to enable WFP and the Government of Lesotho to mitigate some of the negative impacts of COVID-19,” said Aurore Rusiga, WFP’s Country Director. “For the national school feeding programme to be sustainable, it must be based on local farm output – and must ensure that smallholders can supply produce of necessary quality.”

Japan’s donation will enable the provision of two nutritious meals each school day: a porridge breakfast of Super Cereal Plus, made from maize, soya beans, milk, sugar and vegetable oil, enriched with vitamins and minerals; and a lunch of maize meal and canned fish. This contribution will add to the standard daily lunch meal already provided through the assistance of the Government of Japan. The contribution will also allow WFP to train 300 smallholder farmers in food preservation, processing, packaging, pricing and marketing techniques.

“The donation will help meet the heightened need for food assistance in this country provoked by the pandemic and ensure a consistent and vital source of solid nourishment for young children,” said Norio Maruyama, Japan’s ambassador to Lesotho. “This project is one example of how Japan delivers on its commitments at the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development in 2019.”

The Government of Japan has been funding food assistance for developing countries since 1968 and is a long-standing partner of WFP in Lesotho. This new contribution brings Japan’s total contribution towards WFP’s humanitarian assistance in Lesotho to more than US$19.5 million (about M300 million) since 2004.

The WFP had earlier received USD1 million from the Government of Germany and USD1 million from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) meant for the launch of the lean season assistance from October-March 2022 targeting 44,000 people in Mokhotlong, Thaba-tseka, Maseru and Qacha’s districts.

The targeting was part of a crisis intervention to households that are experiencing food shortage challenges due to different challenges such as poor farm yields, Covid-induced livelihoods and job losses, as well as continued poverty in the country.

WFP also continues to support the Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee with the development of a dashboard that will provide real-time data for evidence-based decision making for food security and nutrition interventions while also supporting the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) develop the Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee strategy and carry out capacity needs mapping which will enable development of the country strategic plan and prioritise immediate actions to ensure that DMA enhances co-ordination of disaster risk reduction interventions.

The Monetary Policy Committee at the Central Bank of Lesotho has this week warned of high risk of food security imbalances due to heavy rains that have affected crops in the last planting season and with a low forecast on yields.

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