WFP has welcomed the arrival of the M/V Asian Hope carrying 5,250 metric tons of rice from the Japanese Government to support Mozambicans affected by the drought.
The Japanese gift, which is the second rice donation to Mozambique this month, was handed over to WFP in the port of Maputo this morning, in the presence of Lucas Chomera, the Minister for State Administration and Paulo Zucula, the Head of the INGC.
The rice supplements 100 tons of canned tuna donated by Japan in October.
Peak of the 'hunger season'
The Japanese food comes at a critical time, when the ‘hunger season’ peaks from January to March
Angela Van Rynbach, WFP's Country Director in Mozambique
“The Japanese food comes at a critical time, when the ‘hunger season’ peaks from January to March.
"Food is typically in short supply and usually unaffordable to the poorest people at that time. This is why WFP is so grateful for this donation,” said WFP Country Director Angela Van Rynbach during the handover ceremony.
Rice for the most vulnerable
With this donation, WFP will be able to deliver rice for three months to over 100,000 of the most vulnerable, including the elderly, pregnant women and HIV/AIDS affected people who have no other means to feed themselves.
WFP gives them monthly food rations, composed of a cereal such as rice, pulses and fortified vegetable oil. Other WFP projects involve supporting people with food while they build water reservoirs for the community or multiply drought-resistant crops.
Fight against poverty
As Mr. Kanji Tsushima, Ambassador of Japan to Mozambique, pointed out: “Food security is the foundation of the fight to reduce absolute poverty.
"Mozambique faces a severe situation due to the drought, which resulted in a poor harvest. According to the Vulnerability Assessment, this situation will worsen until next March.”
Without good health based on a solid diet, there can be no conditions to study in school, work in the fields, or fight off diseases like malaria, cholera, and even the HIV/AIDS pandemic
Kanji Tsushima, Japan's Ambassador to Mozambique
The Vulnerability Assessment in October showed that 801,000 Mozambicans are affected by food insecurity, and that many people are already eating only one meal or less each day.
Others have exhausted their meagre stocks of food and are now eating wild foods, which have little or no nutritional value.
But “thanks to donations like this from Japan, WFP has already increased its support to more than half a million people affected by this drought this month, more than double those supported in November,” Van Rynbach said.
"Base of life"
“Japan continually supports food aid in Mozambique because food is the base of life,” added Tsushima.
“Without good health based on a solid diet, there can be no conditions to study in school, work in the fields, or fight off diseases like malaria, cholera, and even the HIV/AIDS pandemic.”
Those present at the ceremony were also invited to visit the ship and watch the unloading of this valuable cargo.
No rest for the holidays
During this holiday season WFP, its partners, shippers and transporters are not resting: ships are on the high seas, trucks are moving, and operations to bag, unload and distribute food are going on 24 hours a day, all over the world.
In 2005, the Japanese Government donated food aid to WFP in Mozambique worth about US$6.5 million. Since 1977, Japan has provided food assistance to Mozambique worth a total of about US$130 million.