2 March 2009

Congo-Brazzaville: Thousands to Benefit in Food and Nutrition Project

Brazzaville — Thousands of vulnerable people in the Republic of Congo are expected to benefit from a three-year food and nutrition project.

"This project will ensure the rights of very vulnerable populations to food and nutrition," said Lamin Manneh, the UN resident coordinator in the ROC. At least 800,000 children under-five, 160,000 pregnant and nursing women, as well as farmers and livestock keepers and children in 200 primary schools will benefit from the project.

"The Congo faces a food deficit," said Minister of Agriculture Rigobert Maboundou. The country imports food worth an estimated 130 billion FCFA (about US$260 million) annually, an amount equivalent to the total wage bill, to feed its population of about three million, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Food and nutrition levels remain worrying. According to national surveys, at least 26 percent of under-fives suffer chronic malnutrition, with 39 percent of households unable to meet the minimum daily calorific requirements. Mineral and vitamin deficiency is also high, with vitamin A deficiency at 47 percent, iodine at 13 percent and iron at 33 percent, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The health and nutrition project is being funded by the European Union (EU) at a cost of about $7.8 million. "The EU commission is pleased to make this contribution to revive farming, food distribution and improve nutrition to ensure sustainable food security in the country," said Miguel Amado, the EU delegation head in the ROC, on 25 February.

The project is expected to help in fighting hunger, malnutrition and poverty by increasing agro-pastoral production and farming incomes. It will be implemented by the UN World Food Programme, UNICEF and FAO.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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