The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), through the funding of the Smallholder Agriculture Development Project II (SADP II), has gifted the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition IT equipment valued at over USD 30,000, approximately M570,478.00.
This donation is set to reinforce evidence-based approaches to enhance food security and nutrition in the nation.
Among the equipment donated are 10 desktops, 5 laptops, and 100 tablets, specifically esignated for data collection.
WFP Country Director Aurore Rusiga described the contribution as “just a small token symbolising the will of WFP to capacitate the government by strengthening its coordinating role.”
She emphasised WFP’s commitment to ending global hunger by collaborating with various entities.
“This burden of malnutrition undermines the social and economic development of countries and Lesotho is no exception,” she noted.
Lesotho faces significant nutritional challenges, Aurore pointed out, citing: “Lesotho is characterised by a high level of malnutrition which is driven by poverty, lack of diverse and nutritious diets, low agricultural productivity and limited capacity of local government units to deliver nutrition interventions.”
She highlighted the alarming statistics, “…stunting rate remains high at 34.5 per cent among children under five. Overweight and obesity, including micronutrient deficiencies, also remain a challenge affecting all age and all socio-economic groups.”
Thabo Mofosi, the Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, reflected on the collaboration with WFP was initiated in June 2022 under the Department of Nutrition and Home Economics (DoNHE).
He elaborated on their collective goal to “promote dietary awareness among all Basotho with the intention to carry out the Advocacy Campaigns on Nutritious diet, enhance the Community-based Dietary Knowledge, and provide investment support to community nutrition clubs.”
The Minister gratefully acknowledged that lack of ICT equipment in the Department of nutrition both at headquarters and district level is one of the major constraints to the smooth implementation of the department.
“Today we are grateful to this partnership because WFP managed to save some funds during implementation, which have been used to procure computers and tablets for the department officers at head office, district offices and resource centres.”
Expressing optimism, the Minister added, “We strongly believe that data capturing will be easy as all the relevant officers will be able to perform their duties efficiently and effectively because they are now well-resourced with the right tools.”
Tsotelo Lebete, Acting Project Director of SADP II, highlighted the severity of the nutritional crisis in Lesotho marked by a high prevalence of the triple burden of malnutrition.
He pointed out the country’s efforts in developing strategic documents focused on agriculture sector development, including the Zero Hunger Strategic Review and the National Food and Nutrition strategy.
Lebete indicated that the donation comes under Advocacy and campaign on nutritious diets contract between SADP II and WFP for three years that is from September 2022 to September 2025.
He said the focus is mainly on Advocacy and community-based dietary knowledge.
“We are going to assist the platform to reach the Nutrition and Home Economics strategic goal, to strengthen and capacitate the Department of Nutrition and Home Economics.
This significant donation by the WFP is a step towards empowering the Department of Nutrition in Lesotho to tackle the pressing issues of malnutrition and food insecurity with enhanced efficiency and effectiveness.