The European Union Food Facility (EUFF) grant of 10.9 million Euros (approx. US$15 million) is making significant impact in Liberia, UN and government officials have disclosed in Monrovia.
Addressing a joint new conference at the UN headquarters in Monrovia Wednesday (July 21) the officials said the grant has benefitted thousands of Liberian famers, empowered women and increased food production at the local level.
The EUFF is a “€ 1 Billion Food Facility” mechanism adopted by the European Commission in 2008 to tackle food insecurity and hunger in the world.
The EUFF is presently making a positive impact on millions of poor and vulnerable people in 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America by improving availability of and access to food.
About US$15 million of the amount was granted to Liberia in 2009, which is being used by the
Joint GOL-UN Joint Program On Food Security And Nutrition (JPFSN), to boost the country’s food security, nutrition and poverty reduction efforts, aimed at bringing about a real and measurable improvement in the lives of the most vulnerable people in the country, said EU Task Force Leader Mr. Adolfo Cires Alonso.
Line government Ministries included in the JPFSN include the Ministries of Agriculture, Health & Social Welfare, Gender & Development, Planning & Economic Affairs, and Internal Affairs, including the Civil Society. UN agencies include FAO, WFP, UNDP, UNICEF and other relevant UN agencies.
Deputy Agriculture Minister for Planning and Development James B. Logan said the join effort has helped farmers improve cultivation and production rice and other food crops to a larger extent.
He said EU Food Facility has increased rapid agricultural production and secure supply of food at the local level, which are the aims of the facilities.
He said the program is improving access to agricultural inputs and services including fertilizers, seeds and training; safety-net measures to maintain or increase agricultural production capacity and is helping meet the basic food needs of the most vulnerable populations, including children.
Other small-scale measures such as micro-credit, investment, equipment, infrastructure and storage as well as vocational training and support are part of the program.
Food Production and Sustainable Livelihoods: FAO and WFP in partnership with Ministry of Agriculture and other line ministries of the government and CSOs are supporting more than 10,000 small holder rice farmers, 6000 households and 110 schools in seven counties in improving food and vegetable production through, Dr. Izeduwa Derex-Briggs, Representative of FAO noted.
FAO is among others providing seeds, fertilizers, agricultural tools and pest management packages and encouraging local seed production.
Capacity building of farmers, extension agents, technicians and schools (vegetable gardens) on secure rice production; boosting vegetable production, rehabilitating swamplands and building irrigation facilities, are among several projects being implemented under the EUFF program, the officials told journalists.
UNICEF helping the most poor and vulnerable children and families to meet their basic nutritional requirements under the initiative, Ms Kinday Samba, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist added.
She said the issue of poor malnutrition is still a problem in the country, though not as high compared to the past. Acute malnutrition, she said, has fallen to under five percent, while chronic malnutrition stood at 51 percent. This, she noted need serious attention, and UNICEF is working with families and other UN agencies to address the situation.
Ms Samba said UNICEF is promoting the adoption of good feeding practices among families through 130 health clinics, strengthening therapeutic feeding programs in three counties to treat severely affected malnourished children, training health workers on essential nutrition action with WFP and WHO, and implementing a social cash transfer scheme in Bomi county to support food and basic necessities for the extremely poor and vulnerable households who are unable to work to earn a living.
Meanwhile in a bid to inject greater impetus into the project and make production and transportation better for farmers, the UNDP has and is constructing several warehouses and feeder roads in rural Liberia, especially where the projects are being implemented.
“UNDP committed to construct a total of 11 warehouses throughout the project period,” said John Walker, UNDPAsst. Representative.
He said in close coordination with WFP and FAO, four (4) warehouses were agreed to be of immediate need in Lofa, Nimba and Bong Counties.
In order to support access to markets and to basic social services, Mr. Walker said UNDP in partnership with UNOPS, is rehabilitating and vastly upgrading feeder roads and bridges in Nimba and Lofa Counties that link vulnerable farming communities to markets, health centers and schools.
He said UNDP through UNOPS has rehabilitated several feeder roads in Nimba County including the Weghela- Davoyore – Gblasonoh Road. It is an 18km road in Saniquelle which has recently been completed.
The road, he noted, has a total of 15 culverts that are in the finishing stages with two bridges that have been entirely completed. During the construction period, a total of 375 people were employed from February – June.
Mr. Walker said another road being rehabilitated in Nimba is the Blohn-Seweeh, Road which is about 5.5km.
The road is almost completed with 5 culverts that are in the completion stage. The delay in completion was caused by an incidence where villagers stole 15 bags of cement, claimed Mr. Walker. By end of July the road will be completed, with a total of 75 people employed.
The water Dam in Gbedin, he said, is entirely completed, thus enabling the farmers to now have assurance of harvesting three seasons per year.
The half the 2km Telemai-Kpayea Road in Lofa County, linking the two communities, has been completed three out of four culverts installed.
The Foya – Wasonger Road, also in Lofa, with a total distance of 9kms road will commence next week, Mr. Walker revealed.