By Staff Writers

Maseru, Oct 2 (The Night’s Watch) – The Japanese government has donated JPY200,000,000 (equivalent of about M28,360,000) to help the World Food Programme (WFP) strengthen food assistance to some 180,000 primary school children in Lesotho, through the government’s national school feeding programme.

A ceremony was held on Tuesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations to mark the contribution which will be used to buy canned fish, further diversifying nutritious meals offered in primary schools across the country.

The ceremony was officiated by the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, ‘Maphoka Motoboli and attended by the Minister-Counsellor of the Embassy of Japan in Pretoria, Shuichiro Kawaguchi.

“Over 600,000 Basotho are currently facing food insecurity due to the 2018/19 drought, a situation being worsened by predicted late rains in 2019. This support came at a critical time when WFP is appealing for more resources to respond to increasing needs,” said WFP Lesotho Country Representative Mary Njoroge.

She said the support will help the most vulnerable Basotho children, some of whom, the only nutritious meals they receive are provided through the national school feeding programme.

The national school feeding programme is an initiate by the government to provide food to pupils in the public primary schools across the country

Government covers two-thirds of the schools and the WFP one-third, with the latter focusing almost exclusively on children living in the remote mountain regions.

The WFP Lesotho on Tuesday said Japan had been one of its most consistent donors having donated USD $8.2 million, about M125 million, since 2014.

“Japan remains committed to assisting in globally achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. For future generations to thrive and contribute to the development of their country, they require sufficient nutrition to think, learn and grow intellectually,” Kawaguchi said.

He added that: “Fish is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and provides numerous health benefits including stimulating brain cell growth and healthy hearts.”

Motoboli reiterated the significance of Japan’s support explaining that “this invaluable donation will complement the maize meal, pulses, oil, sugar and salt that are currently on the menu and make a tangible difference to the lives of Basotho children across the nation”

She said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Japan for this direct investment in the future of our country.”

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

Results from the latest Vulnerability Assessment and Analysis (VAA) of June 2019 predict that some 30 percent of the population will need immediate food assistance, with the figure expected to grow towards the end of 2019.

The Government of Japan has been funding food assistance for developing countries since 1968 and is a long-standing partner of WFP in Lesotho. NW

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