2.5 million euros for COVID-19 emergency aid

Belgium is supporting SFERA, an emergency fund from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), to intervene quickly in countries where COVID-19 is threatening food security.

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Shepherds with animal feed

Animal feed for shepherd families in Niger.

An estimated 183 million people already living in precarious conditions could suffer from acute hunger as a result of COVID-19. In order to alleviate these ‘COVID-19 needs’, the FAO is looking for some 295 million euros. This sum will be spent in 34 countries, mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Belgium has already pledged 2.5 million euros, destined for Colombia, DR Congo, Iraq, Sudan, Niger and Mali.

After all, the measures to curb COVID-19 – lockdown, keeping a distance, etc. – mean that many small farmers are no longer able to sell their harvest on the market. They are also suffering from a shortage of seasonal workers or are no longer able to purchase seeds or fertilisers. Many are having to make do with a lot less income.

The FAO will use the funds to maintain food security in a variety of ways. This can be done, for example, by providing all kinds of input such as seeds, tools and animal feed, or vegetable seeds for gardening. In order to reduce food waste, storage facilities, transport to markets or equipment for processing food can be provided. In addition, purchasing power can be increased with cash. Those involved will also be informed about the risks of COVID-19.

Woman washes hands on a faucet made from a garbage can

The beneficiaries will be informed about the measures taken to contain COVID-19.

Belgische projecten

The ‘Belgian projects’ will all cost between 200,000 and 500,000 euros. In Niger, for example, 500,000 euros will flow to 23,600 farming and shepherding families. They will be given all kinds of seeds (corn, millet, lettuce, tomato, carrot, cabbage, etc.), animal feed and veterinary medicines. 1,000 families are learning how to process food, while 300 are learning planting techniques that are adapted to the drought.

In Iraq, another 500,000 euros will also be used to help 750 families (4,350 people). This involves internally displaced people and displaced people who have returned home. Unconditional cash transfer, along with all kinds of inputs (seeds, fertilisers, etc.) and information, should help them get back on their feet.

Three people take care of garden bed

Gardening, for example, can help these Iraqi displaced people get back on their feet.