27 July 2011

Rwanda: WFP Dispatches Maize to Refugees Camps

The World Food Programme (WFP) intends to transport maize to three refugee camps hosting over 50,000 Congolese refugees.

Several trucks prepared to leave the organisation's headquarters in Kigali for Kiziba Refugee Camp in Karongi District, Gihembe in Gicumbi District as well as Nyabiheke Camp located in Gatsibo District.

This comes a few days after The New Times reported the refugees concerns related to the quality of food and food shortage, especially in Kiziba camp.

In an exclusive interview, Jan Delbaere the WFP deputy country director said that the food shortage emanates from insufficient funding that the organisation experienced, adding that extra efforts are now being put in place.

"There is a problem of food shortage in refugee camps and other beneficiaries due to funding problems but WFP has tried to find solutions to these problems; refugees do not have land and are entirely depending on food aid," he observed.

"We also had the problem of inadequate maize which I think was not only in Rwanda; it's a regional problem. However refugees should not over-exaggerate that they are going to die due to food shortage."

He said that last year, WFP bought food from local farmers through the Purchase for Progress initiative (P4P) and from traders for distribution to the three camps.

On the poor quality of food, Delbaere dismissed the claims saying that the food's quality is certified by Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS), before distribution.

"The quality of WFP food is extremely unquestionable. It cannot cause any harm to the beneficiaries," he said.

However, due to funding hitches, maize rations have been reduced from 11kgs per person per month to 7kgs. Beans remained at 3.6kgs per person per month; oil remained at 0.9kgs, and salt at 0.15kgs.

Delbaere warned that if the funding issue escalates, things may get worse for the refugees.

"We are running out of money. For this month and next, it will be fine but we are worried about September and October. We don't know what will happen if we fail to get more funds," he said.

According to John Paul Sesonga, a communication expert at the organisation ,WFP provides food assistance to 541,000 people in Rwanda through two projects; protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO) and Development programme (DEV) commonly known as school feeding programme.

PRRO benefits 191,000 vulnerable people, including 54,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwandan returnees, malnourished children under 5 years, pregnant mothers as well as patients living with HIV/AIDS.

The school feeding programme provides hot lunch to 350,000 pupils in 300 primary schools mostly from the Eastern and Southern provinces.

In partnership with the ministry of education WFP has started feeding school children for three days while the parents (community) are catered for two days per week.

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