The Chinese Embassy through World Food Programme (WFP)-Lesotho handed over 665.4 Metric Tonnes (MT) of Super Cereal Plus to the government of Lesotho at the event held in Maseru on Friday.
The Food, which worth M14 Million will be provided to 60,310 pre-school learners countrywide through the national school feeding programme.
Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Halebonoe Sets’abi expressed gratitude to the government of China “for this generous gesture of goodwill, which will go a long way in countering the long term effects of stunting malnutrition levels of young children.”
He said the donation brings hope as Lesotho is experiencing torrential rains which continue to cause great damage to the winter harvest throughout the country.
He added that the government of China has over the years been providing food assistance to Lesotho, indicating that the 2341 metric tonnes of emergency food aid which the country received in 2017/2018 made a difference in the lives of Basotho who were in dire need of food.
Speaking at the same event, the Minister of Education and Training, Pro. Ntoi Rapapa said 67 percent of eligible Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) children in Lesotho are not enrolled in ECCD programme due to abject poverty faced by their families, indicating that feeding is one of the intervention that enhances access and retain children at school.
He emphasised that if the country fails to provide proper feeding at the young age, it will encounter problems, expressing gratitude to China for the gesture.
He also appealed to adults, particularly men not to misuse the cereal as it is meant for children and has nutrients that will enable them to be brilliant in the classroom.
Chinese Embassy Economic and Commercial Counsellor, Ma Guoliang said the handing over of this nutritious food marked a milestone between the triple cooperation of China, Lesotho and WFP and is one of the important achievements of the eight initiatives of the Forum of China Africa Cooperation Beijing Summit implemented in the country.
He indicated that China has actively responded to the country’s appeal for humanitarian assistance since 2017 and has provide emergency food aid continuously.
He added that the Chinese government will also provide 3157 tons of rice worth M50 Million to Lesotho this year and will be transported in three batches, indicating that the first 200 tons have arrived and the second batch is being cleared through the customs.
On the other hand, WFP Country Director, Mrs. Mary Njoroge said an assessment that was conducted revealed that 480, 000 Basotho are in need of food and mothers and children suffer most as lack of food lead to malnutrition.
She stated that poor nutrition from pregnancy to second birthday can affect the physical development of a child, indicating that the food will be provided to children between six and 36 months.
“This contribution will be one more child accessing education, one more family getting food” she said.
She concluded by urging other development partners to come forward and address the increasing needs which have been brought by drought.
The government in partnership with WFP currently provides at least one nutritious and safe meal to 180,000 students per day in primary schools and ECCD across the country.