The Liberian government’s COVID – 19 Household Food Support Program Steering Committee began the distribution of COVID – 19 stimulus package food to citizens with specific focus on those economically challenged by the outbreak.
Following the commencement of the distribution over the weekend, the Committee’s Chairperson and Minister of Commerce Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh told journalists that the government has emphasized that the food distribution is only targeting the poorest and most food insecure household population of the country.
“The government’s food distribution has started, and we are beginning with the vulnerable communities and today we are targeting 10 orphanages, though it’s a difficult thing to start but at least we have started,” says Minister Tarpeh.
Giving the overview of the process, Minister Tarpeh says the distribution is part of the president’s response to the COVID – 19 fight, saying the principal terms of reference is to share food with the vulnerable communities.
According to him, the process delayed due to many challenges, noting that lot of planning was carried out and the problems have been resolved by the president.
“… And today we are glad to begin with orphanages, followed by the four affected counties and later the rest of the counties,” Minister Tarpeh explains. Also speaking to journalists, Agriculture Minister Ms. Jeanice Cooper says the full process will begin shortly in Montserrado and the other counties, adding that this entire process will take up to 60 to 75 days to complete.
Ms. Cooper discloses that the committee is not working alone, but includes health team that will identify active cases as part of their plan to coordinate everything they do to avoid problems.
Minister Cooper adds that the committee is looking at the hard hit communities that are affected by the outbreak, and taking into consideration their disadvantaged youths that are currently in the streets.
She says the general roll out will start very soon and they are beginning with Montserrado County before reaching out to the other counties.She describes it as a huge task because according to her, about 500, 000 household across the country will be targeted, and this depends on the vulnerability of people which is inclusive of health or economic problems.
Both the Commerce and Agriculture Ministers put the cost of package at US$30 Million dollars, out of which they say government is contributing US$25 million through the budget while the remaining US$5 million is coming from donors.
Some orphanages that benefited from the food distribution over the weekend include Margaret Gieraths- Nimene Foundation in Zubah Town, Paynesville; Children Relieve Ministry of Duport Road, Christ Our Hope Orphanage located on Michael Francis Road in Paynesville, and Rock of Divine Orphanage in the SKD Sports Complex Community.
Others include Love a Child Orphanage located RIA Highway, Christian Association of the Blind on the Krubo Avenue, RIA Highway, and the Liberian Children Village near Schieffelin police station on the RIA Highway.
Receiving the donation from the Steering Committee, the Administrator of the Margaret Gieraths- Nimene Foundation in Zubah Town Paynesville, Ms. Margaret Gieraths- Nimene, and the head of the Christian Association of the Blind both extol the government for the timely donation amid this coronavirus outbreak.
Ms. Margaret Gieraths- Nimene expresses delight over the donation, and thanks the team for selecting her institution among others that are benefiting from the kind gesture.
She says the children and the staff will be very happy to receive the donation, as she extends thanks to the president and everyone who are involved in the donation.
“We are overwhelmed, and in fact you caught us by surprise. For us the food is not important to us, but for the fact that you have come to us, and considered the plight of the people especially those of us who are vision impaired, and the orphanages, this brings us joy,” she continues.
The distribution team was led by its Chairperson Commerce Minister Wilson K. Tarpeh, Agriculture Minister Jeanice Cooper, Gender and Social Protection Minister Wilhelmina Saydee – Tar, along with civil society representative, the Liberian Council of Churches, and the National Muslim Council.
By Lewis S. Teh—Edited by Winston W. Parley