WFP donates ICT equipment to boost food security



MASERU – The World Food Programme (WFP) has procured Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) equipment for the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Nutrition to boost the ministry’s efforts in evidence generation towards improved food security and nutrition outcomes in the country. This equipment is also meant to improve nutrition surveillance systems and reporting mechanisms to stakeholders, as a national source for nutrition-related matters. It is also intended to build capacity towards the predicted Nutrition Information System in the future.

WFP handed the equipment on Tuesday this week at the Ministry’s premises, which includes 10 desktops, five laptops and 100 tablets, for data collection, worth US$36,789 (more than M600,000.00), a token symbolising the will of WFP to capacitate the Government by strengthening its co-ordinating role, according the Argiculture Minister, Thabo Mofosi.

Part of the equipment handed over was procured through funding support from the Smallholder Agriculture Development Project II (SADP II). Lesotho is characterised by a high level of malnutrition which is driven by poverty, lack of diverse and nutritious diets, low agricultural productivity and limited capacity of local government units to deliver nutrition interventions. Lack of ICT equipment in the Department of Nutrition and Home Economics (DoNHE) both at headquarters and district level is said to be one of the major constraints hindering the proper functioning of the department.

WFP was then able to come to the ministry’s rescue as it saved funds donated towards the computers and tablets for DoNHE officers at head office, district offices and resource centres. Mofosi said WFP has been instrumental in the provision of technical and final assistance to the ministry, including capacity building for the agricultural extension officers in the field of nutrition in all the districts of Lesotho. He noted that as the ministry, they strongly believe that data capturing will be easy as all the relevant officers will be able to perform their duties efficiently and effectively as they will now be well resourced with the right tools.

The support has further extended to training programmes given to the Department of Planning and Policy Analysis’ economic planners in the districts to ensure that implementation is effectively monitored and evaluated to achieve the desired outcomes, he added.

“The on-going nutrition activities, which have been challenging to perform due to insufficient resources such as transport, have now run successfully with minor challenges here and there,” he said. As much as the impact of the collaboration of WFP the ministry in improving nutritional status in the country cannot be reliably measured currently, Mofosi said, he has reason to believe that it has positive long-term effects and more can be expected. He noted that his ministry’s priority remains on the improvement of agricultural productivity and production as well as ensuring food and nutrition security in the country.

WFP country director Aurore Rusiga thanked the ministry for its commitment to facilitate sustainable production and productivity of agricultural outputs and promote food and nutrition security in the country.

She noted that a world free from malnutrition can only be attained through government, multi-partner and multi-sector efforts involving United Nations agencies, civil society, international organizations, foundations, academia and the private sector. “Addressing the complex drivers of malnutrition requires collaboration among diverse sectors and stakeholders and intensified work to scale up nutrition-specific and -sensitive programmes at the country level,” she said.

According to Rusiga, a malnourished population does not have enough strength to generate meaningful development.

“It is therefore rewarding to note the remarkable milestones and commitment of the Government in addressing the scourge of malnutrition in all its forms,” she noted. The mission of WFP she said is to end global hunger by working with governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations, private companies and individuals to tackle the underlying factors causing hunger, to build self-reliance and improve food security.

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