WFP has welcomed an announcement by the Government of Japan that it intends to donate US$5.7 million (JPY 670 million) to assist more than 1.5 million chronically hungry people in three of Africa’s least developed countries: Somalia, Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe.
This is a proof of Japan’s growing leadership in achieving ‘human security’ in AfricaMihoko Tamamura, Director of WFP’s Office in Japan
The contribution will buy rice, maize and fortified blended food to support refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), malnourished children, women and other vulnerable people affected by conflict, natural disasters, chronic hunger and socio-economic instability.
“WFP is very grateful for Japan’s continuing support. This is a proof of Japan’s growing leadership in achieving ‘human security’ in Africa,” said Mihoko Tamamura, Director of WFP’s Office in Japan.
“Somalia, Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe are among the world’s poorest and least developed countries. This contribution will be extremely valuable in helping these countries emerge from chronic hunger.”
Of the package, a total of US$3.1 million (JPY 360 million) will be allocated to Somalia to feed some 1.3 million beneficiaries affected by armed conflict and recurrent natural disasters, including the worst drought and floods in years that hit the already ravaged country last year.
Somalia has had no effective central government since 1991. Malnutrition rates among children under five are consistently high.
In some areas, at least one child in five is malnourished. Although there is insufficient data for the country to be listed in the Human Development Index (HDI) ranking by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the average life expectancy is just 46 years.
The contribution will be used to save lives and improve the nutritional status of malnourished children, TB patients, pregnant and nursing mothers and to help restore livelihoods of pastoral and small farmer households, plus other vulnerable people.
In West Africa, Guinea has been disrupted by the continued influx of refugees from neighboring countries devastated by internal conflicts, such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire.
Since 2000, the living conditions of the Guinean people have further worsened due to weak governance capacity and limited economic progress, resulting in an HDI ranking of 160 out of 177 countries in 2006.
A total of US$1.5 million (JPY180 million) will be granted to Guinea to support 166,000 beneficiaries including refugees, ex-combatants, host populations and other vulnerable people.
The contribution comes in the aftermath of a general strike, in which dozens of protestors are reported to have died in clashes with the security forces.
Operations temporarily suspended
WFP was forced to temporarily suspend most of its operations due to security measures but Japan’s contribution will be invaluable to help the poorest of the poor once the country emerges from the crisis.
Lastly, US$1.1 million (JPY130 million) will be allocated to Sao Tome and Principe.
Since independence in 1975, the country has suffered widespread economic distress, largely as a result of the collapse of the cacao exports which underpinned most of the economy.
Sao Tome and Principe is classified as a least developed country, with its HDI ranking of 127 out of 177 countries in 2006.
WFP assists the government in diversifying and increasing agricultural production and supporting the poor rural population who have limited access to nutrition and basic education.
The funds will be used to feed 40,000 beneficiaries including smallholder farmers, illiterate adults, school children, people affected by HIV/AIDS, and other vulnerable groups.
Poverty tops agenda
Japan is enhancing its international presence in aid for Africa ahead of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) and G-8 Summit to be held in the country next year, where African development and reduction of poverty will top the agenda.
As a preliminary step, the TICAD Ministerial Conference on Energy and Environment for Sustainable Development will be hosted by Japan this week in Nairobi, Kenya.
The conference will be attended by approximately 100 delegations of governments, UN agencies, regional organisations and NGOs from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America, including WFP.