The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on16th October, 2020 called for global action to improve the systems that produce and distribute the food we eat, so that people can better withstand shocks including the COVID-19 pandemic and avoid alarming surges in the level of hunger around the globe.
It furthered that in many countries, the socio-economic effects of the pandemic – particularly loss of earnings and remittances – are heightening existing threats linked to conflict and climate change.
The number of acutely hungry people in the world, it continued, could increase by more than 100 million this year, according to WFP estimate and for particularly fragile countries a slide towards famine is a real risk.
WFP said the need for concerted action to improve agricultural production while enhancing global supply chains and ending food waste is captured in this year’s World Food Day theme: “Grow, Nourish, Sustain Together”.
The organization pointed out that the three Rome-based agencies – WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – are calling for sustainable investment in food systems to achieve healthy diets for all.
It says without massive improvements in the food supply chain many fragile nations are set to become increasingly vulnerable to financial volatility and climate shocks.
“The world produces enough food for everyone so it’s a problem not of scarcity but of access to nutritious and affordable food,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “Smallholder farmers in developing nations need support so they can grow crops in a more sustainable way, then store and transport their produce to markets, and ultimately improve their own livelihoods. When food makes its way from the farm right along the supply chain and onto people’s plates in a way that’s effective and fair, then everyone benefits.”
It was maintained that as the largest humanitarian organization in the world fighting hunger, WFP has unparalleled experience in buying and distributing food.
Every year, according to WFP, the organization increases the amount of food it procures locally from smallholder farmers, providing training in post-harvest storage and in how to access markets.
It stated that the aim is to build dynamic food systems which contribute to community-based agricultural growth and the strengthening of national economies.
WFP added that no one Government or organization can achieve these goals alone as more than ever there is a need for global solidarity to help all people and especially the most vulnerable to confront the crises facing the planet – multiple conflicts, climate change and COVID-19.
In October, primary schools in Sierra Leone reopened after six months of school closure due to the COVID19 prevention measures. WFP stated how it has resumed its support to the national school feeding programme targeting 330,000 children in 11 districts.
To mark World Food Day in Sierra Leone, WFP visited one of the schools in Kambia District to witness children eating school meal. WFP will also celebrate its #FoodHeroes, the smallholder farmers from whom food for school meals is sourced through the Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF) approach.
“I am pleased to see children back to school and enjoying school meals,” said Officer-in-Charge and Deputy Country Director, Yasuhiro Tsumura. “School feeding provides effective safety net particularly for poor and vulnerable households affected by the worst food insecurity in the decade in Sierra Leone; it also fosters a sense of normalcy to children and their family after the long months of restrictive measures including school closure.”
Since March 2020, WFP has been supporting Sierra Leone’s national COVID19 response through food assistance to quarantined people and the most food insecure people affected by COVID19.-, and also supporting transportation of medical items and infrastructures for COVID19 containment facilities.
Similarly, WFP is working with smallholder farmers to double their productivity and incomes through mechanization and irrigation schemes, as well as supporting sustainable food production and resilient agricultural practices by promoting food diversification.
Furthermore, WFP recognizes that stopping food waste is vital to improving food systems.