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Boakai vows to reduce hunger in Liberia

Liberia is to address its age-old rice problem. President Joseph Boakai promises to reduce hunger by engaging in a vigorous agriculture program.

By Judoemue M. Kollie

Monrovia, Liberia, April 22, 2024—The 2023 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report revealed that the hunger situation in Liberia is serious. The President of Liberia, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, has vowed to take concrete measures to reduce the level of hunger facing the country.

The President said it was unacceptable that Liberia is still not yet able to feed itself.

According to Boakai, his government will make agriculture and food security a priority issue to address hunger and malnutrition.

“I want to believe that under my watch if agriculture doesn’t work in this country, I don’t think it will ever work. So we are going to make sure we make it work. I see no reason that a country so well endowed with water, land, and everything needed to produce food can’t produce. We are going to produce food. The statistic I see out there is not just alarming, but it doesn’t represent Liberia,” he said.

The President made these assertions on Wednesday in Monrovia when he launched the GHI report in collaboration with the Welthungerhilfe (WHH) and Concern Worldwide.

According to the 2023 GHI report, Liberia ranked 117 out of 125 countries with a score of 32.2, indicating that the country’s hunger situation is serious. Previous reports also indicate that Liberia’s food and nutrition situation is poor and needs government attention.

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According to the report, stunting and malnutrition remain serious challenges that the country faces.

WHH and Concern Worldwide launch the GHI report every year in Liberia to raise awareness about the nation’s level of hunger.

This year’s GHI report strongly recommends prioritizing the empowerment of young people in agriculture and agribusinesses to shape the global food systems.

The Country Director for WHH Liberia, Herbert Charles, said that in the past years, WHH and Concern Worldwide have launched the GHI report in Liberia.

He said that considering the level of hunger facing most countries around the world, there is a need for additional actions to improve access to food.

“We, therefore, also present this report to guide partners to places where they work in supporting food and nutrition efforts,” he said.

He said that the report looks at several indicators, such as stunting, malnutrition, and child mortality.

“We only use official published data to show the rate of hunger. We are very happy that the Ministry of Agriculture worked with us and other partners to conduct a local survey on the level of nutrition and hunger. But it is clear that the findings are not different from what we are also presenting,” he said.

He said that is institution is in Liberia to help the government address some nutrition and health issues.

“We are working with the government to address food and nutrition challenges. But what we are currently doing is accelerating the gains made in improving food and nutrition,” he stated.

He said the main focus of interventions is to reduce malnutrition facing children.

According to him, however, Liberia has been able to make some progress in addressing poor nutrition, but the effort to scale up has been low over the years.

He said that Liberia still have a high level of undernourishment according to the report.

Charles said that this situation also highly affects young people who actually need a better and healthier diet to develop.

“The lack of access to food serves as a barrier to the development of the young people.

Charles called on the government to take concrete action or measures to improve the country’s food and nutrition security performance.

“We are working with all stakeholders to address the hunger and malnutrition situation still facing the country,” he concluded.

For her part, the Country Director of Concern Worldwide, Ciara Begley, said that her institution has developed a five year strategic plan to help Liberia improve food and nutrition security.

She said that the strategic plan seeks to address the issue of chronic malnutrition through program and advocacy works.

Begley said the plan hopes to succeed in promoting breast feeding and the consumption of healthy and rich diets.

According to her, Concernwide will seek to work with communities to improve food and nutrition security.  Editing by Jonathan Browne

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