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Japan provides food aid to 154 000 local learners

Education Minister Ntlhoi Motsamai

Sept. 21, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

THE World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed the Japanese government’s contribution of JPY 250 million (US$ 2.3 million) that will enable the humanitarian organisation to strengthen food assistance to some 94 000 primary school and 60 000 pre-primary school learners, through the Lesotho government’s national school feeding programme.

An online ceremony was held on September 18 at the United Nations House in Maseru to mark the contribution, which will be used to buy canned fish, maize meal and highly fortified foods to further diversify nutritious meals offered in primary schools and Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) centres across the country.

The ceremony was officiated by the Minister of Education and Training Ntlhoi Motsamai.

Lesotho is in the third consecutive year of poor crop production due to drought. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity in the country as restriction on movement has affected informal traders and smallholder farmers’ access to markets.

It is estimated that some 582 000 Basotho will face acute food insecurity and require urgent humanitarian assistance, between October and March 2021.

“This support came at a critical time when WFP is appealing for more resources to respond to increasing needs. It will help the most vulnerable, Basotho children, some of whom, the only nutritious meals they receive are provided through the national school feeding programme,” said WFP Lesotho Acting Country Representative, Hsunhee Marian Yun.

She said the principal barriers to educational opportunity that stand in the way of the world’s poorest children are hunger, social disenfranchisement, gender discrimination and poverty.

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Ms Yun also noted that there is a clear body of evidence which demonstrates that school meals operate as an effective pull factor, drawing the child into the classroom. When properly aligned with education programmes, adequately nourished children will learn and prosper.

For her part, Ms Motsamai, reiterated the significance of Japan’s support explaining that “like many countries across the world, Lesotho has been negatively affected by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened the woes of many Basotho.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan for this direct investment in the future of our country through the national school feeding programme. As we reopen schools this contribution will go a long way in supporting the most vulnerable children,” she noted.

She said the support came at a crucial time, as food insecurity levels in the country remain high and particularly affect the most vulnerable, including children.

She said: “Results from the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) Food Insecurity Analysis of August 2020 predict that some 40% of the population will need immediate food assistance, with the figure expected to grow towards the end of 2020.”

The Government of Japan has been providing food aid to developing countries since 1968 and is a long-standing partner of WFP in Lesotho.

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