By Prosper Makene
The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany has contributed EUR 2 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in order to maintain food assistance for almost half a million refugees and asylum seekers residing in Tanzania and Rwanda.
The funding is vital as WFP refugee operations in the region are facing critical funding shortages. WFP operations in Tanzania and Rwanda each received EUR 1 million from the contribution.
Stressing the urgent need for international support for refugees in Tanzania and Rwanda, German Ambassador to Tanzania Detlef Wächter said, “Being one of the largest international donors, it is our country’s duty to help and support the effort of host countries and international agencies in this humanitarian crisis. We hope our financial support helps WFP to overcome the current critical funding shortage.”
In Tanzania, the German contribution was used to purchase maize meal which is included as part of monthly food rations that consist of pulses, salt, vegetable oil and a fortified porridge.
In Rwanda, the contribution was used mainly to purchase maize and beans for monthly food distributions.
WFP Rwanda also purchased fortified porridge, sugar and micronutrient powders to support the most vulnerable people who are in need of a particular diet.
In both countries, WFP provides supplementary food for pregnant and nursing women, children under the age of five, hospital in-patients and people receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
The targeted feeding programmes provide much needed nutrition through additional foods such as fortified porridge or micronutrient powders. These food items are important in the fight against stunting and undernutrition in children, and they boost the immune systems of vulnerable people. WFP also provides hot meals to refugees who are in transit and reception centres.
“WFP is grateful to Germany, which over the last five years has been one of our largest donors and has cemented its commitment to humanitarian efforts in Tanzania, the region and around the globe,” said WFP Tanzania Country Representative Michael Dunford.
“The continued support from Germany has been crucial in meeting the food needs of men, women and children who have fled their homes.”
Since an upsurge of unrest in Burundi in 2015, 258,000 refugees have crossed into Tanzania, making it the largest recipient of Burundian refugees in the East African region.
Tanzania currently hosts 317,000 refugees in three camps, which is an unprecedented five-fold increase compared to the refugee population two years ago.
Rwanda currently hosts 172,000 refugees in six camps. Of these, 87,000 are Burundian, with 55,000 residing in Mahama camp who are wholly dependent on assistance to meet their food needs.
“WFP is now able to continue to provide food to children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women in refugee camps, thanks to the German contribution,” said Jean-Pierre de Margerie, WFP Rwanda Country Director and Representative.
“As refugees have limited access to income generating activities in Rwanda, food assistance remains critically important.”
The increasing influx of people into both countries has resulted in greater resourcing needs for WFP to meet the basic food needs of refugees. Since February, due to funding shortfalls, WFP in Tanzania has had to reduce food rations to 72 percent of the minimum 2,100 kilocalorie requirement.
To restore full rations and meet the food needs of refugees in both countries, WFP needs an additional US$29 million for its operations in Tanzania and US$10 million in Rwanda between now and April 2018. If additional funding does not come forward, WFP may be forced to reduce rations further.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.