After an exhaustive situation analysis of the country, WFP together with UNICEF will jointly make available a little over 100 million dollars to the government of Sierra Leone for child survival.
The country representatives of UNICEF, Geert Cappelaere and WFP, Felix Gomez together with the deputy minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Richard Conteh signed two programmes of cooperation for the period 2008-2010 at the ministry of Finance and Economic Development over the weekend
The overall goal of the programme will assist in the attainment of three key results set by the government within the National Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) which include: reducing under-5 and maternal mortality rates by one third; increasing the rate of access to quality education for primary school-aged children from 70 per cent in 2004 to 85 per cent in 2010; and ensuring a protective environment for children against violence, exploitation, abuse and deprivation..
WFP will be contributing $11 million which will target a total of 296, 000 beneficiaries per year in the districts of Bombali, Kambia, Koinadugu, Port Loko and Tonkolili. The country programme will provide assistance in two main areas; basic primary education through primary- school feeding including an incentive scheme for girls an improved health and nutritional status of women and children.
The programme will also provide food assistance for People Living With HIV/AIDS.
The WFP country programme is further complemented in the southern and eastern districts of the country over the period July 2007 to June 2009 with a total resource volume of US$30.5 with focus in areas of livelihoods and food security improvement, education and health.
UNICEF with a funding commitment of US$60 million will be zooming on child survival, education and child protection, with strong sector linkages to HIV/AIDS and water and environmental sanitation, programme communication and partnership.
The programme will be implemented in all 13 districts nationwide.
Mr Felix Gomez, who spoke on behalf of the UN agencies that did the signing, said the challenges facing Sierra Leone were huge of which child survival and development was a major one.
He pointed out that the country was currently ranked last in the Human Development Index, whilst indicators such as infant and maternal mortality rates, were one of the highest in the world.
Malnutrition, he said, was the key culprit with regard to child deaths, accounting for 57% of under five mortality.
Mr Gomez said with regards to education, 31 per cent of children of school going age were out of the educational system. He assured of their continued cooperation.
The deputy minister of Finance and Economic Development assured that they would put all the machinery for a proper a monitoring and evaluation of the projects that the monies would fund.