DAR ES SALAAM – Today, at the Tanzania Port Authority, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a $8 million contribution from the United States Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contribution will help maintain critical food assistance to refugees living in Nduta, Mtendeli and Nyarugusu camps in north-western Tanzania.

“We are grateful for the United States’ generosity and continued support. This support reflects their commitment to continue assisting nearly 220,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees who solely rely on the U.N. World Food Programme’s food assistance. Part of the donation is used to procure food locally from small-scale farmers. This represents a good investment in the local economy,” said Sarah Gordon-Gibson, U.N. World Food Programme Representative in Tanzania.

With support from USAID, the U.N. World Food Programme provides emergency food assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers in the camps. This assistance includes locally and regionally sourced commodities and in-kind food rations.

The U.S. government through USAID is the largest donor to the U.N. World Food Programme’s support to refugees in Tanzania. Today’s $8 million contribution includes $6 million in cash for commodity procurement in the local market and $2 million  towards yellow split peas supplies.

The U.N. World Food Programme distributes monthly rations consisting of cereal, pulses, salt, vegetable oil and fortified maize meal, including specialized nutritious foods for vulnerable pregnant and nursing mothers and children under five.

Also speaking at yesterday’s event, the United States Ambassador to Tanzania Dr. Donald J. Wright remarked,

“This contribution is made possible by the generosity of the American people, and we are very proud of the life-saving impact it will have in vulnerable communities. The U.S. government supports the protection of refugees, asylum seekers, conflict victims, stateless persons and vulnerable migrants in Tanzania and around the world. We recognize Tanzania’s long-standing efforts as a host-country to refugees and asylum-seekers, and strongly encourage the Government of Tanzania to ensure that the humanitarian needs of all vulnerable migrants in Tanzania are met.”

The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

 

Follow us on Twitter @WFP_Media, @WFP_Tanzania and @SGordonGibson

WASHINGTON, D.C./ March 8, 2020 — World Food Program USA is proud to announce two new grantees for the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education.

Women and girls make up a majority of the world’s hungry people—mostly as a result of unequal access to education, resources, and tools for economic and personal success. By empowering women and girls with knowledge, training, and leadership skills, the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education is helping the world achieve zero hunger.

This Spring, the Fund awarded two organizations – Nurturing Minds and Girl Up Initiative Uganda – with grants to expand their programs and make an even greater impact on the lives of the women and girls they serve.

Nurturing Minds

Nurturing Minds is a nonprofit on a mission to educate Tanzanian girls who are poor, marginalized and at risk of becoming involved in exploitative forms of child labor. Since 2008, Nurturing Minds has provided financial and technical support to Secondary Education for Girls’ Advancement (SEGA) for the development and operation of a high-quality secondary boarding school for vulnerable girls in Morogoro.

The purpose of the SEGA Girls’ Secondary School is to foster the development of girls’ academic excellence, strong values, healthy self-esteem and independent thinking, with an emphasis on leadership, social responsibility and environmental care. Half of SEGA’s students are orphans, and the majority were forced to drop out of other schools due to extreme poverty. Thanks to SEGA, these girls are now able to continue their studies.

“Nurturing Minds is profoundly grateful for the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund’s grant to support the Msichana Kisasa (Modern Girl) Outreach Program in opening six new centers,” says Julie Bourgoin, Program Officer.

“Expanding this important program will have a tremendously positive impact on the lives of some of Tanzania’s most vulnerable girls, who are at risk of teen pregnancy and early marriage, as it teaches financial literacy and business skills and increases their knowledge of girls rights, sexual reproductive health, and hygiene, while learning communication skills to improve their self-confidence and be leaders in their own lives.”

Girl Up Initiative Uganda

Girl Up Initiative Uganda (GUIU) works to advance educational and economic opportunities for young women and adolescent girls in urban slum areas of Kampala. It’s currently building a vibrant movement of girls through transformative leadership, skills development, and sexual and reproductive health education. GUIU envisions a gender-equitable world where girls thrive and lead.

GUIU implements several programs that work to achieve this, one of which is the Adolescent Girls Program (AGP), which expands access to female-focused education and empowers adolescent girls to be leaders, reach their full educational potential, and make healthy and informed choices. Another is Big Sisters Network, which ensures that AGP alumni continue to access female-focused education and stay involved and engaged after they have graduated from the AGP training program.

Funds from the Bertini grant will support a key part of this program – Big Sister Camp – an annual, multi-day overnight experience. Through trainings and education, the camp aims to equip girls with the social and personal competencies necessary to reach their full potential as leaders by increasing their self-esteem, self-awareness, assertiveness, and decision-making and communication skills.

“Girl Up Initiative Uganda is truly honored to receive a grant from the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund,” says Kimberly Wolf, the Deputy Executive Director and Co-Founder. “It means that we are now able to expand our four-day residential Big Sister Camp 2020 to 260 at-risk adolescent girls coming from urban slum areas of Kampala who will have the chance to learn, play and reflect on what it means to be a girl leader in today’s world.”

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About World Food Program USA 

World Food Program USA is a 501(c)(3) charity that proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the leading humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, WFP reaches nearly 90 million people with lifesaving food assistance in 83 countries across the globe. By mobilizing individuals, lawmakers and businesses in the U.S. to advance the global movement to end hunger, World Food Program USA bolsters an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world.

About the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education  

After winning the World Food Prize in 2003, Catherine Bertini, the former executive director for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), recognized an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy for women’s empowerment. Bertini used her winnings to establish the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education, a fund that supports innovative grassroots initiatives around the globe that boost access to training and educational opportunities for girls.

Joint statement by QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator; and David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

East Africa is a region beset by climate- and conflict-related shocks. Millions of people are already acutely food insecure. Now they face another major hunger threat in the form of desert locusts.

The locust upsurge affecting East Africa is a graphic and shocking reminder of this region’s vulnerability. This is a scourge of biblical proportions. Yet as ancient as this scourge is, its scale today is unprecedented in modern times.

On January 20th, FAO called for $76 million to help combat this pest crisis. But the resources to control the outbreak have been too slow in coming.

Since FAO launched its first appeal to help what was then three affected countries, the locust swarms have moved rapidly across vast distances and the full extent of their massive scale has become clear. Since our last op-ed pleading for action on February 12th, swarms have been sighted in Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

Each day, more countries are affected. Last week, a swarm crossed into one of Africa’s most food-insecure and fragile countries, South Sudan. Just this week, it was confirmed that one swarm reached the eastern boundaries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – a country that has not seen a locust incursion since 1944. Needless to say, the potential impact of locusts on a country still grappling with complex conflict, Ebola and measles outbreaks, high levels of displacement, and chronic food insecurity would be devastating.

As the locusts continue their invasion throughout eastern Africa, and more details emerge about the scale of need in affected areas, the cost of action has already doubled to $138 million. FAO urgently needs this money to help Governments control these devastating pests, especially in the next four months.

This funding will ensure that activities to control the locusts can take place before new swarms emerge. It will also provide help for people whose crops or pastures are already affected, to protect their families and their livelihoods.

Desert locusts have a reproduction cycle of three months. Today, mature swarms are laying eggs within vast areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, many of which are already hatching. In just a few weeks, the next generation of the pests will transition from their juvenile stage and take wing in a renewed frenzy of destructive swarm activity. This will be just as farmers’ crops begin to sprout.

The next wave of locusts could devastate East Africa’s most important crop of the year, right when it is at its most vulnerable.

But that doesn’t have to happen. The window of opportunity is still open. The time to act is now.

Anticipatory action to control and contain the locusts before the new swarms take flight and farmers crops first break soil is critical. At the same time, FAO needs more resources to immediately begin boosting the resilience of affected communities so they can better withstand some inevitable shocks. Acting now to avert a food crisis is a more humane, effective and cost-efficient approach than responding to the aftermath of disaster.

We welcome the response so far from many international donors. To date, $33 million has been received or committed. But the funding gaps are clear, and needs are growing too rapidly. We need to do more. WFP has estimated the cost of responding to the impact of locusts on food security alone to be at least 15 times higher than the cost of preventing the spread now.

It is time for the international community to act more decisively. The math is clear, as is our moral obligation. Pay a little now, or pay a lot more later.

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The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Stay up to date @WFPUSA

For more than twenty years, Sister Maria Borda has served as a doctor and nun at the Makiungu Hospital near Singida Town in central Tanzania. Founded and run by the Medical Missionaries of Mary and built of sandy yellow cement, the hospital sits on a high central plateau and features a lush courtyard filled with purple jacaranda trees — a verdant oasis amid an arid landscape.

As head of the hospital, Dr. Borda has delivered thousands of newborns here — and watched entirely too many of those babies succumb to disease and infection. Such illnesses are often hastened by malnutrition, poor hygiene, a lack of education or a combination of all of the above.

We met one of Dr. Borda’s youngest patients — a 10-month-old baby named Kelvin — in the acute malnutrition ward of the Makiungu hospital. Cradled in his mother’s arms, he looked more fragile than a newborn. The skin covering his withered thighs sagged off his tiny frame and hollow cheeks revealed the delicate bones of his skull. Inky blue iodine covered his mouth to stave off sores caused by a riboflavin deficiency from becoming infected. Kelvin was almost too weak to move or cry. He lay very still, watching the world with eyes that bore the glassy, vacant look of a much older and world-weary person.

Dr. Borda told us Kelvin had contracted a diarrheal disease — most likely cholera — that prevented his body from properly absorbing the scant nutrients his mother could provide; she was too malnourished to produce enough milk. Without a car or bicycle, the trek to the nearest hospital would have meant many hours on foot with a very sick baby, so Kelvin’s mother tried to wait for his health to improve for as long as she could until it was too late. By the time Kelvin arrived at the hospital, his tiny body had shut down.

Acute malnutrition robs the body of its ability to process nutrients. In the most severe cases, victims have no desire for food at all. Dr. Borda said it was doubtful Kelvin would survive the night. She knelt at his mother’s bedside and tried to soothe her with whispered prayers.

Kelvin died two days later.

“Looking into the eyes of someone dying of hunger becomes a disease of the soul,” says Roger Thurow, a journalist and author who has spent the past year documenting the lives of young mothers and their babies in hunger hotspots like Guatemala, Uganda and India. “Because you know their death is entirely preventable.”

On a recent trip to Tanzania, I met a group of women who farmed vegetables for a living near the village of Mlandizi on the country’s east coast. As they were telling me about their operation, the unexpected ring of a cell phone interrupted us.

In a village where most people live below the poverty line, all 11 women reached into their colorful kangas to check their phones. The caller was giving an update on seed prices—vital information in a country where seeds are often hard to come by.

Forget satellites, drones or other high-tech innovations. For small-scale farmers across the globe, a simple cell phone has become one of the most powerful tools for boosting one’s harvest and, along with it, his or her family’s and community’s food supply.

Farmers like the women I met are using cellular technology to share crucial information about weather, rainfall, and market demand, along with seed prices, empowering millions of them to grow more food at a time when the world needs it most.

By the end of this century, there will be more than 9 billion people on the planet. Feeding that many mouths will require farmers to harvest more food in the next 75 years than has yet been produced in all of human history.

Hungry Farmers

Yet the cruel irony is that today hunger disproportionately affects small farmers. In fact, roughly half of the world’s 805 million chronically hungry people are small-scale farmers like the women I met in Tanzania. Without access to the right resources and training, millions of food producers are unable to move past subsistence farming or even put food on the table for themselves and their families. Often, their crops will fail as a result of drought, disease, pest or post-harvest contamination.

SMS technology, or “Short Message Service”—the wireless capability  that enables two-way text messaging on cell phones—offers one of the best ways for farmers to tackle these problems. That’s especially true in low-income countries where cellphones are more common than traditional infrastructure like paved roads and reliable electricity.

The mobile platform iCow, for example, sends text messages to farmers with advice on diagnosing pest problems, preventing infection among livestock and selecting certain types of grass to feed one’s cows.

This kind of information can be  crucial during the rainy season, the period from March to May when farmers in Tanzania begin to plant next year’s crop.

Other information that’s shared via cell phones, including weather forecasts, fertilizer prices and more resilient seeds, could mean the difference between a successful harvest and a lean one, after which the number of daily meals dwindles to one.

Each evening before sunset, Mariam gathers her family on a straw mat outside her red brick home in rural Tanzania to enjoy a dinner of ugali, a traditional maize porridge, along with other locally grown crops like spinach, rice and beans.

Sitting alongside her husband, three children and four grandchildren, Mariam describes the pride she takes in giving them the nutrition they need to stay healthy and strong.

“Watching my family eat until they’re full means I’m a good cook,” she explains. “And it makes me feel happy in my heart.”

Her family’s full bellies also attest to Mariam’s skills as a farmer. Most of the food they consume comes from their small plot of land in Tanzania’s Mkalama district, a 12-hour drive from Dar es Salaam, the nation’s bustling capital. Since she was a child, Mariam has harvested food from the region’s red clay soil, growing crops like corn, sunflowers and peanuts.

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WFP/Tala Loubieh

For the first time in her life, Mariam has recently moved beyond subsistence farming. More than that, she has become one of the most successful farmers in the area, harvesting almost twice as much food as the average family.

Thanks to additional income from selling her surplus crops, Mariam paid for the materials and construction of a new brick home for herself, a house for her eldest son and a stand-alone kitchen where she stores excess harvest. In a rural village where most homes are built of mud, sticks and plastic tarps, her new dwellings stand apart.

She was also able to purchase a cart that she now rents to her neighbors for additional income.

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