UN World Food Programme ambassador hails Malawians’ efforts against hunger

Leading Japanese model and UN World Food Programme (WFP) Ambassador Against Hunger, Kurara Chibana, says she is impressed over recovery efforts undertaken by Malawian communities affected by last year’s floods and more recently, by drought.

Chibana with children benefitting from WFP school meals programme in Salima district. Photo Masami Kuroyanagi
Chibana with children benefitting from WFP school meals programme in Salima district. Photo Masami Kuroyanagi

The Japanese celebrity said this during her recent visit to various WFP projects in Malawi to see for herself how WFP is helping communities to build resilience to climatic shocks.

Her visit comes ahead of the Tokyo International Conference on African in August this year which will highlight African development issues.

Initiatives being undertaken include the creation of agricultural assets such as irrigation schemes and fish ponds.

“I could really see the impact of climate change. But at a WFP-supported community that we visited, vegetables were growing beautifully. This sort of thing goes a long way to improving people’s food security and self-confidence,” she said during the trip in Balaka district southern Malawi.

Chibana also visited Jumabunguzi Farmers Organization in Salima, where WFP has constructed a new warehouse where smallholder farmers store their produce, thus reducing post-harvest losses. As part of WFP’s Purchase for Progress initiative, they also receive training in accessing markets and improving their business skills.

She also interacted with students at nearby Kapira Primary School who benefit from WFP’s Home Grown School MealsProgramme. This enables smallholder farmers to supply fresh, locally-produced vegetables for use in school meals.

The visitors then proceeded to Balaka where Chibana interacted with farmers implementing resilience-building activities such as irrigation farming, drought-resistant crop production, fish farming, reforestation and compost making through partnerships including one with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.

The visit concluded with a visit to malnourished children and mothers at Mbela Health Centre in Balaka where WFP is supporting a Supplementary Feeding Programme to treat moderate acute malnutrition. Chibana spoke with both mothers and former recipients of emergency food assistance, gaining an understanding of the challenges they face.

“Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to all the issues, but I hope to see safety net and resilience-building programmes scale up so that the most vulnerable families can take a bigger step towards a better future,” said Chibana.

Currently, Malawi faces huge food insecurity after this year’s El Niño dry spells caused over one million tons deficit in national maize production.

“To break the cycle of hunger in Malawi, we need to respond to immediate humanitarian needs and also to better address the underlying drivers of food insecurity such as climate change, gender inequality and poor nutrition,” said WFP Country Representative Coco Ushiyama. “In the long run, resilience needs to be built before, during and after a crisis. Resilience is a multiyear effort. Reducing hunger in Malawi is difficult, but doable.”

The government of Japan is one of the donors for WFP’s school feeding, relief food and resilience building activities in Malawi. In January this year, Japan contributed USD5 million towards WFP work in Malawi.

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6 years ago

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