The Government of Japan on Tuesday contributed JPY 250 million (approximately M31 million) to the World Food Programme (WFP) to strengthen food assistance support to about 60,000 pre-primary school children in Lesotho.
The contribution will be used to buy canned fish and fortified maize meal, further diversifying the nutritious meals offered in Early Childhood Care Development Centers across the country through the governmentâ€™s national school feeding programme.
The signing ceremony which was held at the ministry of foreign affairs and international relations in Maseru on Monday, was officiated by the minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, MatÅ¡epo Ramakoae, and the Ministry of Educationâ€™s Principal Secretary (PS) for basic education, Dr Dira Khama.
â€œI thank the Government of Japan for this timely and crucial investment in the future of our children and our country,â€ said Khama.
Ramakoae indicated that the contribution â€œcomes at a time when Lesotho is registering the lowest harvest due to the torrential rains that hit the country in the previous rainy seasonâ€.
The Government of Japan has been providing humanitarian food assistance to developing countries since 1968 and is a long-standing partner of WFP in Lesotho.
â€œThis aid is aimed at improving food security and supporting the economic and social development of the country.â€ the ambassador of Japan to Lesotho, Norio Maruyama, said.
Maruyama also explained that the government of Japan had decided to contribute to Lesothoâ€™s school feeding programme as it is aware that the country is facing high commodity prices caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic combined with high food prices are making it hard for thousands of families across the country to get enough to eat.
According to a report published in July by the Vulnerability Assessment Committee, 521,000 people out of the estimated 2.1 million population, are food insecure.
The report revealed that the country needs about M350 million to save the lives and livelihoods of the countryâ€™s most food-insecure people.
Maruyama indicated that the government of Japan wishes to work hand in hand with the government of Lesotho to improve the livelihood of vulnerable people in the country.
Speaking at the same event, WFP Lesotho representative and country director, Aurore Rusiga, said the support from Japan came at a critical time, given that more people are food insecure and in need of help.
â€œAssistance to pre-school learners, most of whom are orphaned or otherwise vulnerable, with high rates of malnutrition, will boost their food and nutrition security needs,â€ Rusiga said.
In September 2019, the Japanese government donated JPY200 million. to the WFP to enable it to strengthen food assistance to some 180,000 primary school children through the government of Lesothoâ€™s national feeding programme.