Japan has granted US$5 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) Ghana, to fight child malnutrition in the country.
The grant is to support the WFP and Ministry of health to, among other things, scale-up research into the development of nutritious foods, and increase education and awareness creation on how to curb child malnutrition in the country – particularly in the Northern and Ashanti Regions where cases are common.
The official signing ceremony that took place in Accra was between the Japanese Ambassador, Tsutomu Himeno who represented the Japanese government; the WFP and Ministry of Health; and The Ajinomoto Foundation – a Japanese charity that is to provide research and technical support to develop nutritious local meals to combat malnutrition in children,.
“As one of Ghana’s main development partners, the government of Japan is committed to helping Ghana end child malnutrition and stunting in children. We will also continue to support other health-related programmes, especially in rural areas, as well as other sectors of the Ghanaian economy,” Ambassador Himeno said during the signing ceremony.
The WFP Representative and Country Director, Rukia Yacoub said: “The funds will enable us to scale-up support for the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Services to expand the nutrition programme, which supports national efforts to address the triple burden of malnutrition – undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity”.
She said the contribution will allow more pregnant and nursing women, children, and adolescent girls to access nutritious foods, adding that it will also help to expand support from the Northern Region into Ashanti Region, where malnutrition – especially stunting, affects large number of children.
According to her, some 22,000 pregnant and nursing women, children, and adolescent girls will in 2019 and 2020 receive e-vouchers for redeeming locally produced special nutritious foods such as Koko Plus and GrowNut – two of the nutritious foods that have so far been developed.
This is the second donation from the Japanese government in the last few years. In 2013 and 2014, the Asian country provided WFP with US$2million for a nutrition programme implemented under the title ‘Local Food-Based Approaches to Nutrition’ (LoFAIN) in Northern part of the country, with support from Ajinomoto Foundation.
It is estimated that one in three children is stunted in the Northern Region, compared with the national average of one in five.
The Ashanti Region has the second-highest number of stunted children nationwide after Northern.