The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed a JPY 250 million (approximately US$ 2 Million) contribution by the Government of Japan to strengthen food assistance support to 60,000 pre-primary school children through the Government of Lesotho’s national school feeding program.
A signing ceremony was held to mark the contribution, which will be used to buy canned fish and fortified maize meals, further diversifying the nutritious meals offered in Early Childhood Care Development Centers across the country. The ceremony was officiated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Mrs. Mats’epo Ramakoae, and the Principal Secretary-Basic Education, Dr. Dira Khama.
While Covid-19 restrictions have been eased, Lesotho’s economy has not fully recovered from the pandemic and is now suffering the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine, notably still higher food and fertilizer prices. Over 520,000 Basotho are food insecure (320,000 of them in rural areas), and that vulnerable population is likely to increase due to job losses, limited livelihood opportunities, lower remittances, and reduced earnings from livestock and livestock products sales, and higher food and non-food prices. Households categorized as poor and very poor are expected to experience more pronounced food consumption challenges, especially during the upcoming “lean” season (October 2022-March 2023).
“This support from Japan comes at a critical time, given that more people are food insecure and in need of help,” said Ms. Aurore Rusiga, WFP Lesotho Representative and Country Director. “Assistance to pre-school learners, most of whom are orphaned or otherwise vulnerable, with high rates of malnutrition, will boost their food and nutrition security needs.”
The contribution from the Government of Japan will bridge the funding gap for the school feeding program and ensure the undisrupted provision of meals, especially lunches. These will complement a daily breakfast already provided thanks to the Government of Japan’s assistance.
“This aid is aimed at improving food security and supporting the economic and social development of the country.” H.E. Norio Maruyama, Ambassador of Japan to the Kingdom of Lesotho, said. “We would like to continue to contribute toward improving the livelihood of vulnerable people in Lesotho.”
“Allow me to thank the Government of Japan for this timely and crucial investment in the future of our children and our country,” said Education Principal Secretary, Dr. Dira Khama.