Farmers in Makpele and Sahn Malen chiefdoms in the Pujehun district and Upper and Lower Banta chiefdoms in the Moyamba district have benefited from the second tranche cash payment by the World Food Programme. Each of the 1,854 participants (representing 9,270 beneficiaries) engaged in agricultural asset creation activities received a total of one million, six hundred and ninety-six thousand Leones (Le 1,696,000) for a period of 60 working days.
The activities are being implemented under the Peace Building Project (PBF); ‘Mitigating Localized resource-based conflicts and increasing community resilience,’ co-implemented by the United Nations Development Programme and the office of the Vice President.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) district offices of Moyamba and Pujehun are providing technical and supervisory support in the rehabilitation and development of Inland Valley swamps in 31 supported communities.
According to the WFP Representative and Country Director, Housainou Taal, land degradation, non-inclusive processes of awarding and managing natural resource extraction, marginalization of women and youth, loss of livelihoods are among the many issues underlying conflicts between communities, Government and the private companies in the southern region of Sierra Leone.
In an interview during a monitoring visit to the cash distribution site, WFP Country Director mentioned that the development of inland valley swamps was crucial in creating livelihood opportunities for targeted districts.
“The project is supposed to address a variety of issues, one of them being resolving conflicts, enhancing peaceful cohesion amongst community members and other sectors and increasing community resilience through agricultural asset creation activities that would support long term food security. Farmers receive cash payments for developing and cultivating a certain hectare of inland valley swamp to ensure year-round cultivation of rice and vegetables,” said Housainou.
In addition to the provision of improved seeds by Mpyamba & Pujehun MAF district offices, agricultural tools support by WFP and training in improved farming techniques provided by trained community youth contractors, Mariama Kawa, a mother of 5 children at Pewa village, Makpele chiefdom mentioned why the cash support is so important to her.
“My husband and i could only have dreamt of having this much money at a time. The money I received contributed to reducing tensions at home and enabled my family to have enough food to eat. The first money I received enabled me to grow groundnut and to cultivate my personal swamp,” said Mariama.
Alhaji Massaquoi, another beneficiary, recounts the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their food security situation.
“This support has come at a time when the COVID-19 lockdowns and movement restrictions badly affected our food situation as the cost of food items skyrocketed. What is more this is the hunger period when every penny counts, “said Alhaji. “Our situation could have been far worse without this cash payment, he continued.
The project also aims at building the capacities of institutions that promote peace as well as creating Multi Stakeholders dialogue Platforms that promote peaceful relations between the communities, Government and the private companies.
Moreover, technical and vocational trainings are also being provided to enable local women and youth to benefit from company employment opportunities.