The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Sierra Leone, recently received a donation of 391 tonnes of Soya-Corn blend, equivalent to 1,876 tonnes of food.
This was procured as part of US$ 2.3 million from the Government of Germany to WFP earlier this year in response to rising food prices.
Ranking 84 out of 88 countries in a report released recently by the International Food Policy Research Institute 2008, Global Hunger Index; and last out of 177 countries in the 2007 UNDP Human Development Index, malnutrition in Sierra Leone, especially among children under 5 years remains one of the highest in the world. About 10% of children below 5 years are acutely malnourished and about 40 percent are chronically malnourished, not able to live up to their physical and mental potential. Prevalence rate of anemia remains very high among women and children.
The vitamin and mineral fortified Soya-Corn blend would be used to help prevent and address malnutrition of children under 5 years of age and support people living with HIV/AIDS through 385 Public Health Units in 10 Districts.
“Inadequate nutrition is one of the major causes of impaired cognitive development, and is associated with fatigue, short-term memory and increased absenteeism and educational dropout among impoverished children,” said Christa Räder, WFP Representative.
The German donation assists 188,410 women and children under the Mother-and-Child Health and Nutrition programme and provides a daily lunch to more than 241,000 school children in over 900 public schools across nine Districts nation-wide.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony on behalf of the Minister of Health and Sanitation, the Deputy Minister, Shieku Tejan Koroma expressed gratitude to the German Government for the donation, adding, “The gift would not have come at a better time especially as we come to the end of the hunger season.”