World Bank approves additional financing to strengthen resilience of food systems in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 December 2022:

An additional 516,700 people in Sierra Leone will benefit from a $50 million International Development Association (IDA) additional financing approved this week by the World Bank, under the second phase of the West Africa regional Food Systems Resilience Program (FSRP-2).

According to the World Bank announcement, the objective of this additional loan is to support the country’s preparedness against food insecurity and improve the resilience of its food systems.

“In Sierra Leone, food and nutrition insecurity situation has been exacerbated by the recent flooding and requires a serious and scaled-up response. This Additional Financing is a strong vehicle to address both immediate needs to mitigate the impact of the ongoing food security crisis, as well as invest in productive capacities and critical infrastructure to strengthen the longer-term resilience of vulnerable populations to more frequent and severe economic and climate shocks,” said Abdu Muwonge, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone.

The world Bank says that agriculture is the engine of economic growth and poverty alleviation in Sierra Leone, but it is characterized by low and stagnating productivity in key crops, limited market-oriented diversification, major aggregation and coordination bottlenecks, a weak private sector, and a low-capacity public sector.

Yields of rice, the country’s main staple, in major producing areas average less than 1 metric tons per hectare. Per capita rice consumption stands at 185kg per year (the 5th highest in the world), while domestic demand for rice exceeds domestic supply by over 400,000 metric tons per year, requiring imports valued at over $200 million per year.

Short-term interventions under this World Bank’s project, will help address the immediate impact of food insecurity through cash transfers to vulnerable and food insecure agricultural households to help them cope with the cumulative impacts of production shocks.

Additionally, the project will promote activities that close gender gaps in women’s participation in the agriculture sector and will provide access to productive resources for women.

This additional financing builds on the interventions of FSRP-2, approved in July 2022, to help address the immediate food and nutritional needs of vulnerable groups, while also building resilience to tackle underlying drivers of vulnerabilities to food insecurity in West Africa. It brings the total IDA loan provided for the FSRP program in the region to $695 million, covering Burkina Faso, Chad, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo, as well as three regional organizations: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), and the West and Central Africa Council for Agriculture Research and Development (CORAF).

“Food insecurity is caused by many factors that are beyond national borders. It is good to see countries and institutions come together to implement this broad program that will simultaneously increase agricultural productivity through climate-smart agriculture, promote intraregional value chains and trade, and build regional capacity to manage agricultural risks,” said Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa.

The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Established in 1960, it provides grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.

IDA resources help effect positive change in the lives of the 1.6 billion people living in the countries that are eligible for its assistance. Since its inception, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments are constantly on the rise and have averaged $21 billion over the past three years, with about 61% going to Africa.

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