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United States funding to help WFP fight food insecurity in Sierra Leone

1 February 2023 at 05:10 | 678 views

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$3.2 million from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide emergency food and development assistance to 68,000 people in Sierra Leone, where four out of five households have irregular access to safe and nutritious food.

According to an August 2022 Food Security Monitoring System analysis, 81 percent of Sierra Leonean households were unable to meet their basic food and nutrition needs. 15 percent were severely food insecure and needed emergency food assistance.

“Sierra Leone imports a large quantity of its food, and with the global food and fuel crisis, compounded by the conflict in Ukraine, poor households have been affected,” said Yvonne Forsén, WFP’s Country Representative and Director. “Inflation has also meant that people now buy fewer commodities from their income, which is increasing hunger levels.”

The funding from USAID will be used to provide emergency cash transfers to the worst-hit communities, expand homegrown school feeding and support agricultural efforts to strengthen people’s resilience.

Some 40,000 people in Port Loko, Tonkolili and Pujehun districts will receive mobile money to meet their immediate food needs. Elsewhere, WFP will provide cash to 30 more schools in Kambia and Pujehun districts to buy fresh vegetables and the highly nutritious sweet potato directly from small-scale farmers for 6,400 children.

WFP will also provide agricultural equipment to small-scale farming communities and Mother Support Groups in Falaba, Koinadugu, Tonkolili, Kambia, Moyamba and Pujehun districts for them to clear more land, process rice and produce feed for poultry enterprises. Some 95 farmer groups managing Village Loans and Savings schemes will receive training in financial management.

“The United States of America is committed to supporting the people of Sierra Leone in achieving human development and we are encouraged that this funding will benefit entire communities including school children and small-scale farmers,” said David Reimer, the American Ambassador to Sierra Leone. ”This contribution underscores our desire to invest in the local economies through school feeding and agriculture and stimulate community-led systems that can break the cycle of hunger and malnutrition” Reimer added.

According to data from the joint government and WFP market monitoring, the price of imported rice, Sierra Leone’s staple food, increased by 40 percent between January and October 2022, while the price of locally produced crops nearly doubled, forcing most households to spend more than 75 percent of their income on food.

Credit: WFP