Monday, August 10, 2009

European Commission grant of €6.4 million to strengthen food security in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - The European Commission has approved a grant of 6.4 million Euros (approximately 430 million pesos) to support food security in Mindanao.

This grant will be implemented by the United Nations World Food Programme and is part of the 1.0 billion Euro EU Food Facility, which was established in 2008 to respond to the dramatic increase in food prices in developing countries around the world.

Food prices have stabilised somewhat since then but remain high, and vulnerable communities continue to face the threat of poverty, malnourishment and asset depletion.

In implementing the programme, WFP will work closely with its main counterpart in Government, the Department of Social Welfare and Development as well as the Department of Agriculture and the local government units in the areas concerned (Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur).

This is the second of three EC grants for the Philippines under the Food Facility, with a total allocation of more than 30 million Euro.

Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, Head of Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines said "this latest grant reaffirms the EU's commitment to helping the Philippines address the challenges of food security and poverty. We hope that this will help the Philippines to increase domestic food production and strengthen social safety nets, and in particular to lighten the impact of the food crisis on poor farming communities in Mindanao."

Ambassador MacDonald noted also that this new programme builds on the EC's longstanding partnership with the World Food Programme in the Philippines.

Mr. Stephen Anderson, WFP Country Director and Representative in the Philippines said that this grant from the European Commission will enable the WFP to address the impact of high food prices on the poorest of the poor in Mindanao, by expanding food-for-assets activities as a complement to government safety net initiatives such as cash transfers.

"Improving food production will mean both better nutrition and a better standard of living for the poor in Mindanao, who remain chronically food-insecure. Our focus will be on increasing crop production through the rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, storage facilities and feeder roads,” he added.

The project will be implemented over 24 months starting in September 2009. It aims to restore small scale agricultural infrastructure in poor and food-insecure areas in the highly vulnerable areas of Mindanao and to assist the Philippine Government at the national level on better targeting through vulnerability analysis mapping.

The WFP will also help the government establish early warning systems, and train key stakeholders in food security data collection and analysis. This will help improve targeting for government social safety-net programmes, including large-scale rice subsidies in areas of urgent need.

The main beneficiaries will be poor farming communities in five Mindanao provinces (Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur) by way of provision of 9,700 tonnes of rice and 970 tonnes of beans to some 1.1 million people from smallholder farming communities through food-for-assets initiatives.

Food-for-assets projects will build important local infrastructure and develop skills through the provision of food in return for work or attendance at training courses.

Women from these provinces will also benefit from literacy training, support in using improved seed varieties and training on post-harvesting techniques and storage and irrigation management. Fisher-folks are also expected to benefit from some training programmes.

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