GENEVA, SWISS – The World Food Program is leading a project to restore school feeding programs for vulnerable children who have been cut off from this nutritional lifeline due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An estimated 388 million children or one in two worldwide had received school meals when the pandemic hit more than a year ago. The World Food Program says this is the highest number of children in history who have benefited from this important food source.
In April last year, the UN Food agency reported 199 countries were forced to close their schools due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. As a result, 370 million children now no longer receive school meals every day – for many, their only meal that day.
WFP spokesman Tomson Phiri said his agency had begun gathering a coalition of stakeholders to help governments restore and improve access to school feeding programs for hundreds of millions of poor children around the world. He said the participants were drawn from the government, development agencies, UN agencies and the private sector as well as other sectors.
“This coalition aims to find sustainable and innovative sources of funding for school feeding programs, strengthen evidence and guidance for improving the program, and bring sectors together to achieve better outcomes for school children globally,” he said.
Phiri said this initiative came at a critical time. He calls school feeding a game changer for many people, not just for children. Phiri said parents, small farmers and society as a whole benefit when children are not deprived of food that is essential to their health and well-being.
“Activities help prevent hunger, support long-term health and help children to learn and develop. This is especially true for girls. In places where there are school meal programs, girls attend school and also stay in school longer. The number of child marriages has decreased and teenage pregnancies have decreased, ”said Phiri.
The World Food Program said it hopes more partners will join the coalition over the coming months before the project is launched at the Food Systems Summit on the sidelines of the General Assembly in September or October.
The summit, to be hosted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, aims to change the way the world produces and consumes food.
BISHKEK – The Swiss government has donated CHF2.5 million to boost the support of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) to vulnerable Kyrgyz families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
WFP will use the funds for cash transfers to 80,000 people who will work on creating community assets or skills training programs designed to increase employment opportunities and build their resilience to future shocks.
“The Swiss government and the people of Switzerland are proud to stand with Kyrgyzstan in supporting the people most vulnerable to being hit by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Swiss Ambassador to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, Véronique Hulmann. “Our partnership with WFP will help the poorest families to sustain their livelihoods through these difficult times.”
WFP, in partnership with the Ministry of Manpower and Social Development, will prioritize families living in urban and semi-urban areas, where communities are particularly affected by socio-economic impacts.
“Thanks to the generous contributions of the Swiss Government, WFP can help families meet their basic dietary needs, while giving them freedom of choice as they tackle the pandemic, develop marketable skills and increase community assets. By injecting cash into the market, we help create demand, benefiting the entire community, including local food producers, ”said Andrea Bagnoli, WFP Chief Representative for the Kyrgyz Republic.
Already in April 2020, as an initial response to the pandemic, Switzerland donated CHF 200,000 through WFP to immediately support social inpatient institutions and boarding schools across the country. The assistance reached more than 3,000 people, including orphans, elderly people and people with disabilities for three months.
The Swiss government provides assistance for the development of the Kyrgyz Republic in order to improve the welfare of the population. Over the past 25 years Switzerland has provided more than CHF 450 million to Kyrgyzstan in the form of technical, financial and humanitarian support.
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This follows a new Financing Agreement signed by the European Union and the Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIFS), to reuse funds to support the Pacific response to COVID-19.
Under the EU-SPC-WFP-WHO agreement, the European Union will contribute more than US $ 24 million (equivalent to EUR € 20 million) of funding diverted under the EU-PIFS Financing Agreement to support the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Fiji, Republic of Marshall Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu to reduce the impact of COVID-19. This funding includes WHO’s contribution of more than half a million USD (equivalent to € 448,000) for the implementation of this agreement.
Signing the agreement in Suva, EU Ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific, Sujiro Seam said: “In response to COVID-19 in the Pacific, the priority of the European Union is to address the health and socio-economic impacts. The agreement signed today allocates EUR 20 million to strengthen the medical systems of Pacific Island nations, to enable them to deal with not only COVID19, but all health challenges. “
Thanks to the European Union for their contribution, WHO Director of Pacific Technical Support Dr Corinne Capuano describes some of the areas this funding will help support; and punctuality. “EU support will help strengthen capacity for testing, WASH, infection prevention and control, and preparedness for the arrival and launch of a COVID-19 vaccine. It comes at a time when the PIC is preparing for the arrival and rollout of its first allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine which is expected in the coming months. “
SPC Deputy Director General Dr Paula Vivili said “Supporting collective national efforts has resulted in the development and implementation of proactive regional mechanisms to address the significant impact of the pandemic in our region, such as the Pacific Humanitarian Path on COVID-19. The SPC recognizes PIFS for enabling the reuse of EU funds to respond to COVID-19. The SPC will use these funds to support the PICTs COVID-19 response through public health surveillance and laboratory services, monitoring and evaluation, strengthening the One-Health approach and risk communication ”.
Ms. Jo Pilgrim, Director of WFP’s Multi-Country Pacific office stated that: “Since mid-2020, the WFP-managed Pacific Humanitarian Air Service is proud to support the work of the Pacific government, WHO, SPC and other partners to reduce the impact of COVID-19 through the delivery of equipment and essential medical supplies. We thank the European Union for its commitment to ensuring this important operation continues to serve our partners in the Pacific throughout 2021. “
The agreement has five main outcomes including: Increased preparedness of countries for effective COVID19 response operations with special attention to those living in vulnerable situations; strengthen the ability to test, detect and monitor the presence of COVID-19 in partner countries; reduced risk of spreading and excess morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 and other health problems; increased collaboration between the environment, animal and public health sectors and efficient logistics and delivery mechanisms for the COVID-19 response.
These results are aligned with the Phase 2 Pacific Health Sector Support Plan; and EU support fills a gap in the Plan’s budget, which is focused on stopping or delaying the spread of the virus and reducing the negative health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.
The plan is led by the WHO Pacific Technical Support Division and implemented by the Joint Incident Management Team (JIMT) which includes the SPC and WFP along with other multilateral partners working in and with the Pacific who pool resources to improve preparedness and response to COVID-19 in 21 Pacific Island countries and territories.
To date, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu have not reported any confirmed cases of COVID-19. Fiji has passed more than 250 days without reporting any cases of COVID-19 in the community. The Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu have occasionally reported cases of travelers arriving from overseas, taken through border quarantines.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the USDA ERS released preliminary projections that 200,000 Jamaicans would be food insecure by the end of 2020. By the end of the year, the socio-economic impact of the pandemic had already caused an actual number of people to suffer. from food insecurity to exceeding pre-pandemic estimates to 100 percent, affecting mainly female-headed households and homes with at least one child.
One in three survey respondents reported skipping meals or eating less, and 1 in 10 reported going a full day without food. Respondents indicated a decrease in household food stock, with 20 percent reporting no food at home.
As of May 2020, files Food and Agriculture Organization assessed the moderate to high risk of Jamaica’s COVID-19 food system, stating that “the main risk in the short term is not being able to guarantee access to food for a population that is adhering to health safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus, and in many cases has lost a source of income due to cessation of non-essential economic activities. “
The WFP survey confirmed that food insecurity in Jamaica is mainly driven by COVID-19 curbs and economic conditions as opposed to supply-side factors.
According to the WFP survey, COVID-19 containment measures are the root cause of growing food insecurity. Six in ten survey respondents indicated that their ability to earn a living has been significantly affected by the pandemic, due to fears of leaving home due to restrictions on movement, “high prices for livelihood inputs” and reduced demand for their goods. Seventy-four percent reported job loss or decreased income.
Movement restrictions also affect market access, with 38 percent of Jamaicans reporting inability to access markets due to virus containment measures, while 88 percent reporting having to change their shopping behavior. (WFP)
Households with children in them were hit the hardest. According to statistics collected by Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) and published for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 45 percent of Jamaican households with one or more children experience food shortages due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the figure even higher for households headed by women (56 percent) and households with two or more. children (57 percent). According to the report, most households overcome food shortages by eating less (74 percent) or eating less per day (66 percent).
According to a USDA ERS report, produced in September 2020, the Jamaican food gap, that is, “the amount of food needed to enable each individual consuming below the threshold to reach the calorie target” is 222 calories per capita.
This means that, on average, it takes an additional 222 calories per day / per food insecure person to make every member of the Jamaican population food insecure. For reference, this is the equivalent of one cup of breadfruit per day, which also offers 11 grams of fiber, 64 milligrams of vitamin C (85 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 71 percent for men) and twice the amount of protein from white rice or potatoes. – staple foods that are the “main food” for people who are food insecure.
The implication is that although food insecurity related to the pandemic is driven by demand-side constraints, the problem can be effectively addressed on the supply side through government policies and other interventions.
The potential for government intervention to reduce food insecurity is reflected in 2.5 percent growth in the agriculture and fisheries sectors, even though the country experienced a 10.7 percent economic downturn in the third quarter of 2020 (compared to 2019), driven in part by a 65 percent decline in tourism.
The Ministry of Industry, Trade, Agriculture and Fisheries Buyback Program has played a major role in addressing growing food safety concerns and reducing food disparities.
In July 2020, a $ 1.7 million stimulus package was introduced in which excess fruit and vegetables were purchased from farmers who had lost markets due to declining tourism, and redistributed through various channels including children’s homes, locked down communities, and through mobile farmers markets. .
Most recently, with the support of a $ 240,000 grant from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the ministry has continued to buy excess produce from farmers as well as assist those who cannot sell excess produce. Focus has recently been placed on young people and women in the island’s eastern parishes, with most of the excess proceeds being allocated back to children in need through collaboration with UNICEF.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green has been involved in a number of initiatives to protect the agricultural sector from further shocks, including providing technical support to farmers and developing online markets as a way to more perfectly match supply to demand.
Farmers have been exempted from curfews and movement restrictions to allow them to keep producing, and community farming initiatives have been encouraged.
Apart from government support, the private sector has been involved in programs in collaboration with the public sector and through independent initiatives.
Digicel Foundation has promoted the ethos of “Eat what you grow, plant what you eat,” through the Yuh Plate Plant initiative which has provided micro-grants for community gardening projects, and the Grow Pot initiative in the Jamaican Salt Spring through the provision of the ‘Build Jamaica Grant’ to 360 Recycling Manufacturing Limited.
These policies and initiatives shed light at the end of the tunnel in the face of the significant economic downturn and social upheaval that have tested the resilience of Jamaican society. While 400,000 Jamaicans ended the year short on food, the country’s farmers and fishermen have emerged as heroes on the front lines.
There is still a lot of hope and potential for a food-safe future in Jamaica.
BAGHDAD – The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has received a contribution of EUR 21 million from the German Federal Government to support vulnerable families in Iraq as well as the digitization and reform of the national Public Distribution System (PDS) for food rations. .
The contributions are part of Germany’s new multi-year commitment to WFP’s work in Iraq which allows for strong forward planning to better meet the needs of communities after the conflict, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. While millions of refugee families in Iraq have been able to return to their homes, food security remains difficult not only for the remaining 1.3 million internally displaced persons and 242,000 refugees in the country, but also for a large part of Iraq’s population.
“Currently, COVID-19 and the economic crisis it causes, access to adequate food and nutrition is an increasing challenge,” said the German Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq Ole Diehl. “Germany is pleased to provide 21 million euros in 2020 to WFP to meet this need. Our funding is used for life-saving, humanitarian activities such as food aid, as well as to strengthen the long-term resilience of large parts of Iraq’s population, for example through an innovative approach to digitizing PDS – Iraq’s largest social protection system. With its strong track record, WFP has proven to be a trusted partner of the German Federal Government and we look forward to continuing our cooperation. “
These contributions help WFP support a wide range of groups including refugee families, refugees and host communities through food assistance to vulnerable households and job creation initiatives across the country. Its initiatives include the EMPACT award-winning program “Empowerment in Action” for young people.
“We are grateful for Germany’s multi-year commitment to WFP Iraq, which covers up to 2023,” said WFP Representative Abdirahman Meygag. “Germany’s commitment enables WFP to save lives and change lives in Iraq through a holistic approach, from relief and recovery to building community resilience when they return to their areas after the conflict. In addition, this support is also used for WFP’s work with the Ministry of Trade in reforming the PDS social protection program for all families who benefit from it. “
In 2020, WFP launched new resilience activities in southern Iraq, for some of the most vulnerable communities. German support across the country is helping to reduce the socio-economic impact of the global pandemic on those most vulnerable.
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