June 23, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
German Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Helmut Kuhmunch, has said at the Bintumani Conference Hall that “capitalisation is a vital process within the fight against hunger, food security and malnutrition”.
He was speaking yesterday at the opening of a two-day workshop aimed at putting ideas together on mainstreaming food and nutritional security and the right to food into the Smallholder Commercialisation Programme (SCP), organised by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) with support from the German government.
He told participants that his government had lent support to both the government of Sierra Leone and FAO’s Right to Food project.
“The German government is financially supporting Sierra Leone and FAO. This project looks at different aspects of food and nutrition in the areas of governance and coordination, capacity building and nutrition-sensitive field activities,” he said.
He noted that good health and food and nutrition were fundamental rights of every human being and that it was the duty of all stakeholders to work in concert towards its realisation.
He said for the past four years the project had worked in close collaboration with the Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) and other partners, including District Councils, Njala University and NGOs.
The conference attracted participants from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS), Scaling Up Nutrition(SUN), and the Smallholder Commercialisation Project, among others, to share ideas and leverage experiences, with the ultimate goal of impacting nutritional outcomes for Sierra Leoneans.
In a brief statement, FAO country representative, David Mwesigwa, said he was pleased to be part of the project.
He applauded the German government for their financial assistance and noted that the project was aligned to the country’s national policies on food and nutrition security, notably the food and nutrition security implementation plan of 2013-2019.
He said the project has succeeded in supporting MAFFS to mainstream nutrition in development plans at national and district levels, adding that right to food issues were in the process of being integrated into the new constitution.
He explained that the project activities have been achieved through inclusion into the curriculum, food and nutrition security and the right to food courses and pre-services programme at Njala University for a B.Sc. programme, service training of agriculture extension workers on basic nutrition concepts and strengthening district level coordination mechanism, among host of others.
He said they recognise the significance of improving the quality of diets as long as malnutrition continues to be experienced, adding that the project aims to increase the availability and access to quality nutritious foods.
He said the workshop would serve as a basis for productive dialogue, debate and information exchange and facilitate wider support and commitment to the implementation of effective, sustainable and long term nutrition-sensitive food based solutions to hunger and malnutrition.
Earlier, in welcome address, Dr. Mohamed Foh, National Coordinator SUN secretariat, said the project started in 2012 with technical support from FAO. He said the two-day workshop would climax with recommendations from the participants on how to improve on nutritional food security.