The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Wednesday welcomed a JPY 200 million (about M25,452,000) contribution by the Government of Japan to strengthen food assistance support to 50,000 pre-primary school children through the Government of Lesothoâ€™s national school feeding programme.
A virtual ceremony was held to mark the contribution which will be used to procure canned fish to further diversify nutritious meals offered in Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres, reaching 26,000 girls and 24,000 boys across the country.
According to WFP the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity in the country as sources of livelihoods, casual labour, remittances, crop sales, petty trade, livestock sales or sale of livestock products remain slightly lower than normal.
It is estimated that some 312,000 Basotho will face acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance, between October 2021 and March 2022.
Aurore Rusiga, WFP Lesotho Representative and Country Director said the support from Japan has come at a critical time when WFP is appealing for more resources to respond to increasing humanitarian needs.
â€œThe timely contribution will reach the most vulnerable Basotho children in the form of a hot and nutritious meal, allowing them to remain in school and as such to reach their full potential,â€ she said.
Results from the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) Food Insecurity Analysis of August 2021 predict that as of September 2021, about 179,000 people face high acute food insecurity challenges. They also show that there is need for humanitarian action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods and prevent acute malnutrition.
Japanese Ambassador to Lesotho Norio Maruyama, stated his countryâ€™s commitment towards ensuring that Basotho are food secure, as he recounted Japanâ€™s contribution towards the cause over the years.
â€œJapan has been one of the most consistent donors to WFP Lesotho having donated over JPY 1 billion (about M 14 410 000) since 2014.
â€œThe donation will help meet the heightened need for food assistance during this unprecedented time. Together we can work towards reducing the countryâ€™s development challenges, and strengthening our bilateral relations through humanitarian assistance,â€ said Maruyama.
Meanwhile, for her part, Minister of Education and Training Mamookho Phiri expressed her gratitude to the Japanese government for the â€œâ€¦ invaluable donation will complement the maize meal and highly fortified nutritious porridge that the children are currently enjoying and make a tangible difference to the lives of Basotho children across the nationâ€.