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644241
12/12/2014 - 16:35

 

By Tsitsi Matope

Maseru, Lesotho-

Lesotho is putting into practice an old saying: “it takes a village to raise a child”, as it refashions its national school feeding programme to become more inclusive of the local agricultural sector. Lesotho recognizes it will take a community to feed a child, and to also create a sustainable, home-grown feeding programme that benefits both children and smallholder farmers. 

 On 18 November 2014, government and various parties endorsed Lesotho’s National School Feeding Policy.  The policy was formulated by the Ministry of Education and Training with support from WFP, and outlines how relevant sectors will cooperate to provide free and nutritious school meals to children throughout the country. WFP played a critical role in the designing of the “home-grown” component of the national policy, which will facilitate stocking schools’ food supplies by buying largely from local farmers.

As the agricultural sector in Lesotho takes on more responsibility for feeding its children, the home-grown concept shows exciting potential to benefit local communities and develop the country’s rural economy.

Currently, school feeding in Lesotho is divided between WFP (covering 200,000 pupils) and the government (which caters for another 200,000). Food for Lesotho’s 400,000 school-going children is imported and bought from local sources. 

[quote|“A home-grown school feeding programme will facilitate the access of farmers to a predictable local market and ultimately promote agricultural and rural development."]

However, with the “home-grown” component of the new National School Feeding Policy, WFP will work with the support of the government to procure a bulk of its food for the programme from local farmers. The aim is to help smallholder farmers increase their production levels and revenue, and also diversify their operations into food processing. Through a Share-Crop initiative that complements the National School Feeding Policy, the government is partnering with smallholder farmers to share 50 percent of all costs of food production, including land preparation and inputs such as seeds and fertilizer. The farmers and government will share the produce, which will be allocated to various programmes, including school feeding.

[photo|644377]

“A home-grown school feeding programme will facilitate the access of farmers to a predictable local market and ultimately promote agricultural and rural development,” said Lethusang Hanyane, the Deputy Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

With WFP, the government and other stakeholders working together through a variety of creative and collaborative approaches, Lesotho is making great strides towards a year-round crop production to benefit school feeding.   

 

.... As stakeholders show support for “Home-Grown” school feeding

644405
12/12/2014 - 15:19
Climate Change, Preventing Hunger

ADDIS ABEBA – Zemada used to struggle to repay the loans she took out to buy seeds and fertilizer for her plot of land. Once, the situation got so bad she even found herself in court. But things changed after she enrolled in an initiative, run jointly by WFP and Oxfam America, which set out to help farmers like her become more resilient to climate shocks such as drought.

So, in 2012, after another drought hit her crops, she received an insurance payout of 2,100 Ethiopian birrs (around US$105). This allowed her to repay her loan for improved seeds and fertilizers, as well as buy two sheep that produce milk for her family. Some 300 other farmers in her village of Abraha Atsbeha benefited in the same way.

WFP/Lorenzo Bosi

(Zemada Kebeb, close-up. Photo:WFP/Lorenzo Bosi)

[quote|"I was always very afraid about what could happen if a drought occurred at the end of the season“]”I was always very afraid about what could happen if a drought occurred at the end of the season,” says Zemada, who has no husband to help her with her farming work. “Now we have no fear because we have seen that insurance works.” 

Today, Zemada has 5 sheep and she has not had to sell any belongings to repay her loans. Other farmers were able to establish beehives and started making honey for sale. 

Building long-term resilience

A key strength of R4 is that it links the insurance scheme to existing initiatives. One of these is an Ethiopian government programme in which chronically food insecure people receive food or cash in exchange for work to help build long-term resilience to food shortages (the Productive Safety Net Programme, or PSNP).

The R4 initiative was launched by WFP and Oxfam America in 2011 to enable vulnerable rural households to increase their food and income security in the face of increasing climate risks. It builds on the experience of a programme set up by Oxfam and the Relief Society of Tigray in 2009 -- the Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation (HARITA) programme. 

To date, R4 has helped 25,000 farmers in Ethiopia and 6,000 farmers in Senegal through a comprehensive risk management approach that improves natural resources management and reduces the impact of climate shocks when they occur. 

R4 reduces the impact of uncertainty about the weather by providing insurance coverage to farmers. They get this cover in exchange for work on soil and water conservation structures, through a system called Insurance for Assets (IFA). This means that the poorest and most vulnerable farmers, like Zemada, are able to make investments that increase their productivity. Better off farmers also have the option of purchasing insurance with cash. 

When a drought hits, farmers receive automatic pay-outs, so that they do not have to take desperate measures such as selling off livestock or tools to survive, or taking their children out of school. 

In addition, the work carried out through Insurance for Assets, and in particular the planting of fruit trees (mango and avocados), will allow Zemada to improve the nutrition of her family and provide some additional cash. She is also able to irrigate the fruit trees, and others in the village can irrigate their crops and obtain three harvests per year.

A flourishing environment

[quote|"Thanks to the assets created through these initiatives, the environment is also changing in our village“]Although in 2013 and 2014 there have been no payouts, Zemada continues to benefit from Insurance For Assets work, and is protected by insurance. 

Thanks to the assets created through these initiatives, the environment is also changing in our village: we have more water, we planted more trees and we have less heat than before,” says Zemada referring to the benefits of R4 in combination with the Productive Safety Net Programme.

WFP/Lorenzo Bosi

(Zemada poses close to a newly planted Mango tree. Photo:WFP/Lorenzo Bosi)

R4’s ultimate goal is to help people diversify their livelihoods, take risks and opportunities, and become more resilient to climate disasters. Results from R4 in Ethiopia show that the initiative is helping improve farmers’ resilience. Insured farmers save more than twice than those without any insurance, and they invest more in seeds, fertilizer and productive assets. Women, who often head the poorest households, achieve the largest gains in productivity. R4 currently operates in Ethiopia, Senegal, Malawi and Zambia.

Read more about  the resilience-building initiative.

Zemada Kebeb is a farmer living in Ethiopia’s drought-prone Tigray region. In the past, recurring droughts threatened to push her and her four children into chronic hunger. But now, with the help of a resilience-building initiative called R4, Zemada no longer fears a lack of rainfall and has enough stability to start growing new things like mangos.

644320
12/05/2014 - 08:38
Responding to Emergencies

Click here to download the infographic.

As Typhoon Hagupit, known locally as Ruby, is expected to make landfall in the Philippines this weekend, WFP has been closely monitoring the situation and stands ready to respond with immediate food assistance as well as logistics and telecommunications support to complement the government's response, if required.  The infographic below provides an overview of the situation: 

644304
12/03/2014 - 15:40

GUATEMALA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Guatemala received a donation of US$100.000 from the Government of the Republic of Korea. The funding will enable WFP to assist 1,300 households for a period of one month in the Department of Jalapa. The much needed donation followed President Otto Pérez Molina’s appeal to the international community to assist Guatemalans that had been affected by an extended drought.

“We are very grateful for the donation from the Government of the Republic of Korea and applaud their generosity. With this donation, and in close coordination with the Guatemala government, we can support those who have lost their crops after the extended heatwave”, said WFP Representative to Guatemala, Mario Touchette.

The combination of drought, Coffee Rust and rising food prices, have affected the food security of families located in departments of the dry corridor of Guatemala.

Food assistance has been coordinated with the central government to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable populations and to sustain the food consumption of the most affected families, helping to strengthen the resilience of communities.

Households that will receive assistance are to participate in resilience training workshops, to decrease the potential for them to become dependent on WFP. These initiatives are part of a resilience building strategy, possible due to the joint efforts on behalf of WFP and the Guatemalan government.

WFP in Guatemala received a donation of US$100.000 from the Government of the Republic of Korea. The funding will enable WFP to assist 1,300 households for a period of one month in the Department of Jalapa.

644270
12/01/2014 - 16:28
School Meals

For most primary school children in Lesotho, both breakfast and lunch is served at school. These nutritious meals are often the first and last meal of the day for the majority of children from food-insecure households, who walk many kilometers every day to school before receiving a hot meal.

The school feeding programme is one of WFP’s success stories in the country.  It has helped to address malnutrition and improve both the learning capacity and enrolment rates of children since 1961.

Lesotho’s first National School Feeding Policy was endorsed on 18 November 2014, marking an important milestone in the country’s march towards eliminating hunger.

Leading up to the endorsement, WFP asked children who receive school meals what their opinion was on the food they receive. The children also listed food they’d like to see included in the programme.

[quote|We felt this will help come up with a sustainable programme... based on wider consultations that also included the children.]

“What topped the list were foods such as sausages, bacon, eggs, bread, tea, rice, fruits, moroho-oa-naheng (a traditional vegetable), samp and chicken,” Mahao Mahao stated, a  WFP National Consultant who interviewed the children.

While these responses might represent the “typical” expectation we have about children’s tastes, the process recognizes that children are also important stakeholders who should be consulted on decisions that affect them. Moreover, the survey results demonstrate children appreciate a varied diet, which is oftentimes the most effective way to have a nutritious diet.

[photo|644267]

“Many of the children wish for diverse foods in addition to the nutritious meals they are having,” Mahao continued, “we felt this will help to come up with a sustainable programme whose formulation was based on wider consultations that also included the children.”

The interviews showed that many children from both food-insecure and food-secure households are happy to be eating at school.

Mahoa explained how the surveys fit into the bigger picture as he “also looked at other factors such as local production capacity, nutritional value, food availability, affordability and sustainability” to help inform the National School Feeding Policy.

WFP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Education and Training that issues WFP to temporarily implement and manage the nation-wide school feeding programme from 2015 to 2017.

Under the MoU, the government will fully fund WFP to feed 400,000 pupils throughout the country.  During the transition WFP will also develop the capacity of the Ministry, which is crucial in preparing for the government’s takeover of the programme in 2018.

 

 

Maseru, Lesotho—The World Food Programme (WFP) currently feeds 200,000 students in Lesotho. Through a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with the government, WFP will implement the national school feeding programme and build the government’s capacity to take over the programme in 2018. As WFP prepares to scale up its activities to reach 400,000 students, staff members are consulting those most affected by the change—the students themselves. 

644230
11/28/2014 - 14:07
Climate Change

What do climate negotiations mean for world hunger?

[video|644216]Hunger is at the centre of climate change discussions. The people most at risk of hunger also live in fragile environments prone to disasters – which constantly threaten to push them into chronic food insecurity and poverty. At Lima, policy makers will discuss the texts for the next big climate change agreement to be signed in Paris 2015.  

So what will WFP be doing exactly in COP 20? 
WFP will be discussing the issues of food security and climate resilience with UNFCCC delegates in a number of formal and informal forums, including a number of side events. WFP is part of a single UN engagement at the COP, which includes a UN common exhibit area for delegates to view UN joint climate change efforts. WFP will share a booth with IFAD and FAO on Food Security and Agriculture, and also support a booth on Resilience.  

Here is what we’ll be doing:

1.   Analyses 

Based on extensive food insecurity and climate change analysis work, WFP will be helping countries to understand the impact of climate change on the most food insecure and vulnerable people. In addition to talking with delegates and sharing climate analysis publications, we’ll be participating in side-events on the use of climate data and the impacts of El Niño. Recent WFP country-level climate and food security analyses include: Ethiopia, Senegal, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Kyrgyz Republic.

2.  Innovations 

WFP will share its innovative work on climate change adaptation, resilience building and risk management in order to provide governments with additional ideas and actions that can help people adapt to and deal with climate disasters now and in the future. Some of the side-events will also include discussions on these issues.

3.   Policy 

WFP will also be discussing with delegates some of the top COP policy issues related to adaptation, loss and damage, climate finance, and food security and agriculture. We will be following the negotiations on these topics to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable and food insecure populations are incorporated into the discussions.

Our goal is to ensure that both food insecure populations and the action needed to build their resilience to climate disasters are considered in the talks. This is critical in order to achieve a meaningful agreement that helps pave the way towards eliminating global hunger. According to estimates, failing to do so could imply a 20 percent increase in the risk of hunger by 2050.

More information on WFP’s participation at COP-20 can be found at: www.wfp.org/cop20.

The 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place 1-12 December 2014 in Lima, Peru, and WFP will be there.

644158
11/25/2014 - 11:15

Harrowing words from a woman who is simply trying to carry out her daily tasks – but sadly, an experience that is echoed, albeit in different contexts, by women the world over.
Acts of violence against women aged 15 – 44 are the cause of more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. From the refugees camps of DRC to the streets of New York, up to 70 per cent of women will experience violence of some form during their lives.
And it isn’t just the lasting physical and psychological marks that remain – gender based violence damages community cohesion, hampers women’s opportunities and devastates livelihoods.
WFP is working with women to ensure that the food assistance we provide contributes to their safety, dignity and integrity.

A safe haven in DRC

[video|642409]In DRC, a startling 1,100 rapes are reported every month, with an average of 36 women and girls raped every single day. Panzi hospital in Bukavu offers a safe haven for survivors of sexual violence providing women with medical care, psychological counselling and life skills workshops.
WFP provides food assistance to the hospital, contributing to a healthy recovery for the women – and ensuring that they have no reason to venture out into unsafe environments.

And WFP isn’t just responding to those that have suffered. Many women living in refugee camps near Goma fled their homes as a result of civil conflict – yet they find life in the refugee camps can bring its own risks.
Having interviewed many women like Maria at the camps near Goma, it was clear many feared for their safety when out in the bushes collecting firewood.
WFP now runs a programme which produces and distributes briquettes as an alternative cooking fuel, sparing women the dangerous trek – where this basic daily task can be a threat to lives.

Promoting equality in Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, it is a different type of violence that threatens most women – and the perpetrators are closer to home. Domestic violence affects nearly 48 per cent of married women in the country, which is one of the reasons why WFP is working to promote gender equality through food programmes.
WFP is teaching women best agricultural practices and supporting gender awareness events to address underlying inequalities and empower women farmers socially and economically.


This is particularly crucial given that in developing countries, women are responsible for 60 to 80 per cent of food production in developing countries. In fact, if women had the same access to resources as men, they could increase agricultural yields by 20 to 30 per cent, lifting 100 – 150 million people out of poverty.

Ending violence against women isn’t only a right for the millions affected worldwide – with women and girls accounting for half of the human capital in the fight against poverty, it is an important step towards ending world hunger.

Take action: Learn more, speak out, and join the 16-day UNiTE campaign to eradicate gender-based violence.

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“If we go into the bush to collect firewood, we risk getting robbed or raped – all sorts of things,” Maria Nabinto, a refugee in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), told the World Food Programme (WFP) earlier this year.

644105
11/24/2014 - 17:37
Nutrition, Responding to Emergencies

In August, Siatta’s mother was the first of her family to die of the Ebola virus. Next was her father, and then the aunt who had come to take care of them. Then her brother passed away, followed by his wife, and their children. Out of 15 people living in the little house in Kakata, in Liberia's Margibi district, seven passed away in just nine weeks. 

“No one has been sick for over a month now,” says Siatta. “So I believe we are going to be safe.”

Siatta Stewart, 30, and her sister Famatta, 32, are the only remaining adults in the family. Together, they have to take care of six children between the ages of four and 16 – their brothers, sisters, and nephews. Before the outbreak started, neither of the sisters had a secure job. Siatta used to help in a school, but now the schools are closed because of Ebola.

They still live in the home where it all happened. Five out of the seven deaths occurred inside the house.

“I don’t know why I did not get sick,” Siatta says.” I took care of them.”

In September, the whole family was taken to the hospital for surveillance. Famatta did come down with Ebola, and survived.  Little Darius, 6, also tested positive. Both his parents and his sister had already died.

“I told people not to come anywhere near me,” he says. “I did not want them to catch Ebola.” Darius remembers becoming very weak, and that the nurses fed him orange juice and biscuits. Against the odds, he eventually recovered from the often-deadly virus.  Now, he washes his hands all the time, and makes sure other children do the same.

And in the last few weeks, Siatta and Famatta’s lives have taken a dramatic turn, as they now are responsible for the children.

“The rest of the family is gone forever, says Siatta.  “We know they are not coming back. We try to comfort the kids.” 

They are also trying to figure out how they can raise the children of the family, hoping that someday they will be able to get scholarships for them so that they can continue their education.

On November 18, the family went to the local hospital to pick up the food rations WFP gives to Ebola survivors and orphans. They received rice, beans, cereals, and oil – enough to last them for the next month.

As they were ready to leave with the bags, little Darius pulled away from his aunt, running towards the people distributing the food. “Thank you,” he told them.

But because of the rules for Ebola prevention, which include no physical contact between individuals, they could not hug each other good bye.

The Stewart family, which lives in a village in central Liberia, lost seven of its members to Ebola in just nine weeks. The two remaining adults - two sisters - are hoping that the rest of their family will be spared. They, like other survivors across the country, are receiving WFP food assistance to help them through the crisis.

644017
11/19/2014 - 17:21
Nutrition, School Meals

Bhubaneswar – Roopteshwar Adhikari is 12-years-old and rarely sees his parents. They live 1,500 km away in Bangalore, where they work as day labourers. He lives with his grandmother and two sisters in Gajapati.
Every day, his grandmother cooks plain rice for the children. So, one of the things Roopteshwar likes about school is the different food he gets there.
“I have been in this school for the last two years. I eat food in school every day. I eat rice, lentils, soybean, potato, egg curry. My favourite is the egg curry,” he says, noting that at school he gets what he called ‘iron rice’.

“At home I eat plain rice but in school I get iron rice. I like the iron rice. I know it makes more blood and makes me stronger.”
Since 2013, WFP has been working with the Government of Odisha in fortifying the rice served in the school meals in Gajapati with iron. The goal is to address the astounding levels of anaemia in the district. Roopteshwar is one of about 100,000 children who eat this fortified rice in their school meals every day.

As part of its strategy to address food and nutrition issues and also to boost school attendance and academic performance, India has a national school feeding programme which reaches about 120 million children. It’s called the Mid Day Meal scheme (MDM) and is implemented by State Governments.
The MDM scheme supplies freshly cooked meals to school children aged 6-14 in educational institutions all over the country, among them the P.U.P School Adashra, Badigam, where Roopteshwar studies in class 7.

A recent evaluation of the fortified rice pilot in the district indicated that levels of anaemia have decreased by 5%. WFP is working with the Government of Odisha to explore the possibilities of scaling up the intervention to benefit more school children. 

“I want the iron rice to continue in my school meal,” Roopteshwar says. “I want to be stronger because when I am older I want to be a teacher. I don’t want to go away from Gajapati, I will stay here and teach in a school. This extra iron will help me.”

[photo-collection|644081]

WFP helps the government enhance school meals in the Indian State of Odisha with iron-fortified rice. The initiative has won the approval of Roopteshwar, a schoolboy in the Gajapati district of eastern India.

644013
11/17/2014 - 09:21
Purchase for Progress

Jane Bayitanunga, a mother of six, is a small-holder farmer in Iganga district in eastern Uganda.  She mostly grows maize and beans which she uses to feed her family and then sells the excess at the market.  Like many farmers in the area, Jane has been losing a significant portion of her harvest through bad storage practices.

“We took a lot of caution, harvesting our grain using baskets and tarpaulins to maintain the quality,” explained Jane. “But it was all a waste of time as when we got home we had no good place to store it and it would then get ruined by weevils or eaten by rats.  If I harvested five bags, one or two would be ruined after storing for a month.”

However thanks to a post-harvest loss minimization programme funded by WFP, Jane is one of over 16,000 low income farmers to realize more from their labour through improved post-harvest practices and storage equipment. To produce high quality grain, it is essential that farming households do their postharvest handling in a proper and timely manner. The programme not only trains farmers on how to do this but is providing household storage and handling equipment on a cost sharing basis.

Following a trial late last year, where the improved storage equipment registered a 98 percent reduction in losses, WFP increasing the programme this year to assist over 16,000 farmers (mostly women) throughout Uganda. WFP is promoting the most successful options from the trial – the metallic and plastic silos and the Super Grain bags – to enable households store food for family consumption or sale.  The project is aligned with a joint post-harvest loss minimization programme by the Rome-based agencies, namely WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“We are extremely happy that these silos have been introduced to us,” Jane said. “They reduce infestation and (aflatoxin) contamination, they help us keep everything that we grow and allow us to store it for as long as we want. Besides the silos themselves, we have acquired a useful new skill as we now know how to dry our grain before it can be stored well in the silos.”

Sophia Namugaya lives in Mwira village, a few kilometers away from Jane’s house. Last year, she harvested 3,000 kilos of maize grain and lost 80 percent of it to rats, contamination and infestation.  Such a significant loss had a huge economic impact on the family.  After acquiring her 1.3 metric ton capacity silo from WFP this year, she allocated it an entire room in her small house. She was happy to temporarily remove her roof in order to install the silo.

“This year I am confident that I will not lose any of the maize that I will store in the silo,” said Sophia with a broad smile. 
The WFP project is working in several districts across eastern Uganda, some of which were affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.  David Olwoch, formerly of the internally displaced people’s camp of Kalongo in Agago, says that when he returned to his original home at the end of the LRA insurgency, there were few livelihood opportunities besides farming and yet there were no adequate means of storing his harvest.

“But now I have this (plastic) silo for household storage. I used it to store maize last year, now I am using it for my bean seeds. It is sealed and they are safe and in good condition. It keeps seeds very well for up to nine months, better than the means we used long time ago. Insects cannot enter it. I would like to buy another one, the bigger metallic type, so I can use one silo for maize and another for beans,” explained Olwoch.

Eradicating food losses throughout sub-Saharan Africa is a bold, but achievable target. By empowering farmers in countries like Uganda, WFP is assisting farming communities to achieve increased food security for many years to come.

Almost one third of the local farming production in sub-Saharan Africa is lost every year due to inadequate post-harvest management and household storage. In Uganda, WFP and its partners are combining their efforts to dramatically reduce these losses through a post-harvest loss reduction initiative.