The World Food Programme (WFP) is to invest over 22 million US dollars over a two-year period to provide about 28 million metric tons of food assistance to over 432,250 people in the three Northern Regions.
Mr. NguuyenDuc Hoang, Head of Programme of the WFP, who announced this at the launch of the Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) programme for Northern Ghana in Tamale on Friday, said the three northern regions remained the most food-insecure regions in the country.
The theme for the launch of the programme which was: “Building resilience for food security and nutrition in Northern Ghana”, is to improve upon the food security and nutritional status of the three northern regions.
Mr. Hoang said two surveys conducted between 2008 and 2009 informed the WFP in the formulation of the PRRO for Northern Ghana.
The first nationwide food security survey known as the comprehensive food security and vulnerability analysis and an impact assessment of the global crisis on vulnerable households confirmed that the three northern regions were remained the most food-insecure regions in the country.
He said the two surveys indicated that the Upper West region topped the table of regional food insecurity with 34 per cent, followed by the Upper East region 15 per cent and Northern Region 10 per cent while the Ashanti and Eastern regions scored 7 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.
He said it was based on these reports and in line with the findings of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) that the PRRO was developed to improve upon the food and nutritional security of vulnerable people in northern Ghana who had been severely affected by recurrent floods and droughts in 2007.
Mr. Hoang said under the relief component of the PRRO, a contingency emergency stockpile of food for flood and drought prone areas in the three regions would be maintained while special attention would be given to the elderly, sick and the disabled.
He said the supplementary feeding programme for malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers would also be extended to districts in the three regions with the highest food prices and malnutrition levels.
He said an innovative aspect of the Programme was the introduction of support to People Living with HIV on anti retroviral therapy and their families where about 12,000 patients and 48,000 of their household members would receive highly nutritious food to ensure patient compliance with anti retroviral therapy regimen.
The Head of Programmes of the WFP said another aspect of the Programme known as the recovery component consisted of food for work, training and income generating activities.
He said in partnership with government agencies and NGOs, vulnerable food insecure groups of people would participate in food-for-work activities aimed at slowing land degradation and soil erosion in flood affected areas.
Community members, he said, would also be given food incentives in exchange for work on vital infrastructure such as desilting small dams and dugouts, constructing stonewalls, replicating seedlings, reforesting river banks and other climate-change adaptation and mitigation activities.
According to him, these activities would help reduce rural-urban migration by providing alternative work opportunities to some 100,000 people in flood insecure areas adding, to ensure that priorities of both women and men were considered, activities would be selected in consultation with community members while household headed by women and household with malnourished children would receive special attention.
Mr. Hoang said over 24,000 of most food insecure groups such as she nut harvesters, small-scale food processors, agro-pastoralist and food and cash crop farmers as well as daily labourers are at risk of acute hunger and would be targeted with food incentives for training activities.
He said these categories of people would spend time learning new skills that would increase the food security of their households and communities and named some of the activities they would be undertaken to include; seedling cultivation, tree nurseries, agriculture extension, training on how to fortify milled maize and other cereals and how to re-bag and retail iodized salt.
Mr. Moses Bukari Mabengba, Northern Regional Minister, said the current levels of food insecurity and poverty in northern Ghana were still a challenge.
Food insecurity ranges from 34 to 10 per cent whilst the incidence of poverty was between 88 and 52 per cent.
He therefore noted with gratitude the support the being offered by WFP to the supplementary school feeding programme and women’s groups engaged in income generating activities and said the support to school girls’ education had contributed to gender parity in schools in the three northern regions.
Mr.Mabengba also commended the WFP for purchasing local rice from rice companies in the three regions to the tune of about one million United States dollars.