Saturday, 19 May 2012 17:47(AFP) – The UN World Food Programme launched the distribution of cash vouchers for the purchase of food in Senegal's Ziguinchor region, for people hit by poor harvests and high food prices.
The first vouchers went to people in the town of Bignona, on Friday.
Earlier this week WFP re-stocked 167 village cereal banks - warehouses provided with initial grain stocks where villagers can borrow cereals to help them get through the lean season.
The distributions, which began on Tuesday at Neteboulou, in the Tambacounda region, are part of WFP's ongoing assistance to the people worst- affected by the food crisis in Senegal.
"Our objective is to assist 145,000 people with cash vouchers in the most vulnerable rural and urban communities where food is available in the local markets but people cannot afford it," said WFP Senegal Country Director Ingeborg Maria Breuer.
"In total, the various activities that WFP is implementing will allow us, from now to the end of June, to support 806,000 people in 100 'vulnerable zones' where the levels of food insecurity sometimes exceed 59 percent," added Breuer.
The cash voucher distributions will be rolled out in the coming weeks in Ziguinchor, Tambacounda and Matam and people will be able to spend them in designated shops.
The aim is to build the resilience of households who have been severely affected by the food and nutrition crisis and by the high prices of staple foods.
In April, in the rural commune of Oukout, WFP began targeted food distributions, which have since been extended to the whole region of Ziguinchor.
The launch of the cash voucher activities will be attended by the WFP Senegal Country Director and presided over by the Minister of Women, Children and Women Organisations, Mariama Sarr.
WFP operations will cover all regions of Senegal, except the capital, Dakar.
In Matam and Diourbel, where the global acute malnutrition rate exceeds 14 and 10 percent respectively, as well as in nine other regions, WFP will provide a nutritional boost for more than 100,000 children under five years old and pregnant and nursing women.
In order to tackle the food crisis in Senegal, WFP, which is entirely funded by voluntary contributions, needs to mobilise $53 million.
However, WFP's operation currently has a shortfall of $22 million, and contributions are urgently needed to protect the livelihoods of the most vulnerable until the next harvest in October.
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