The Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 signed the agency’s Country Strategic Plan (CSP) for the period 2019 to 2023.
WFP Liberia’s Country Director, Dr. Bienvenu Djossa, termed the signing of the four-year plan, which has a budget of US$50.2 million, as an important milestone in the history of WFP’s engagement with Liberia.
Dr. Djossa expressed delight that the CSP is keenly aligned with the government’s Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), and its aim is to address Liberia’s challenge of poverty alleviation.
He added that through the implementation of the CSP, the WFP will strongly contribute to the PAPD in terms of boosting rural agriculture programs, education and health through the ‘Home Grown School Feeding Program,’ which is expected to improve food security, nutrition, health, gender equality, education, and social protection, as well as supporting livelihood activities of youth.
MFDP’s Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Samora P. Z. Wolokolie, who signed on behalf of the government, thanked technicians from the ministries of Education, Agriculture and the WFP, as well as those from Finance, for producing the “development-oriented Country Strategic Plan.”
Minister Wolokollie described the Plan as “a great paper, a beautiful Liberia-focused document, and a five-in-one mechanism not only to enhance education, but to also promote food security, nutrition, health, and rural development.”
Wolokolie said the ministry will equally be “a congenital part of the implementation and monitoring of the CSP,” which he said is aligned with the first three Pillars of the PAPD: Pillar 1 (Power to the People), Pillar 2 (Economy and Jobs) and Pillar 3 (Sustaining the Peace.)
He recalled how WFP supported Liberia’s Zero Hunger Strategic Review (ZHSR) led by Dr. Amos Sawyer, and described it as a “road map that is expected to assist the country in achieving SDG 2, which is aimed at ending hunger.”
According to Wolokolie, the school feeding program is a joint effort of WFP, the GoL, and other partners to achieve increased student enrollment, improve classroom performance, enhance learning activities, and discourage drop-out rate.
He said that MFDP is glad to learn that WFP, together with MoE, used to provide school meals to 127,000 children daily in nine counties.
Wolokolie said that in 2016, this figure was raised to 300,000 in nine of the 15 counties, and government is aware that another innovative aspect of school feeding is the girl’s take-home ratio, which is given out to girls in the upper primary classes to encourage them to continue their education and thus improve gender parity between boys and girls.
Government, he said, has allocated in Fiscal Year 2019/20 National Budget US$500,000 toward home-grown school feeding, with the amount expected to increase as the country’s budgetary strength grows in the future.
Minister Wolokolie said that the interesting thing about the innovation is that the home-grown school feeding program, which is the focus of the CSP, uses food produced by Liberian farmers for school meals for primary school children across the country.
He said that the Program aims to gradually reach 170,000 students this year. This means that instead of WFP importing food to feed our children in school, the World Food Program will instead spend that money here in-country to support our farmers to grow the food our children eat. This will in turn better our rural economy, our food security, our health, our nutritious status and, above all else, our social service programs.
Deputy Education Minister, Latim Da Thong, said the CSP is also aligned with the SDGs Pillars One, Two, Three and Eight respectively.
He said the ministry has forged a strong partnership with the WFP, which has witnessed capacity development activities over the years.
Da Thong assured that the ministry is committed to linking the conventional school feeding program through an integrated school feeding program where all objectives of the CSP will be achieved.