19th July 2024

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (left) and Rukia Yacoub

The Country Representative of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for Ghana, Rukia Yacoub, has paid a farewell call on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.

The sector Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, expressed appreciation for the excellent role Ms Yacoub played in fostering close cooperation between Ghana and the WFP during her tenure.

She observed that notwithstanding the complex challenges posed to national development systems by the COVID-19 pandemic, WFP and WHO explored avenues to scale impediments to shared aspirations for the deepening of cooperation.

Ms Botchwey referred to the collaborative efforts of the WFP/WHO in their swift response to the humanitarian and health crises and the consequent building of the field hospital in Ghana. She stated that in appreciation of the gravity of the threats posed by the pandemic, Ghana readily welcomed the proposition by the WFP and WHO to ensure success in the global fight against the pandemic.

Additionally, Ms Botchwey recalled Ghana’s experience in facilitating humanitarian response, in which she undertook a leadership role in the fight against Ebola in the West African sub-region.

According to her, while many countries, including those known to have resilient health systems, closed their borders to the affected West African countries due to fear of the debilitating epidemic, Ghana was among the few countries that maintained open borders during that outbreak.

Nobel Peace Prize

The Foreign Minister applauded the award of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to the WFP, which was in acknowledgment of the organisation’s efforts to combat hunger, its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

She also acknowledged the sustained role of the WFP in upholding the right to food in Ghana, and working closely with government agencies to ensure that there was access to food in all households, particularly for those in the rural areas.

Ms Botchwey further expressed appreciation for the successful, though extensive discussions that culminated in a mutually acceptable agreement and the consequent establishment of the COVID-19 Field Hospital that was funded by the WFP and currently being manned by WHO.

Collaborations

The Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister lamented the unavailability of vaccines and the resultant vaccine nationalism that have left most developing and least developed countries in a precarious and vulnerable state.

She expressed optimism that the global discourse and initiatives would soon result in the availability and access to vaccines for all.

She believes COVID-19 presents an opportunity for national and global leaders to rethink policies for ensuring food and nutrition security, and economic recovery that are aligned with the commitment of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ‘leave no one behind’.

Ms Botchwey referred to the collaboration with the Ghana Health Service for the provision of food to COVID-19 containment centres to help ease the burden on the government while sustaining the nutritional needs of Covid-19 patients.

She also referred to the collaboration with the government to provide smallholder farmers and households in selected rural communities in the country with COVID-19 relief support worth $1.5 million.

“The project is expected to be implemented in 18 months, and will benefit 50,000 persons directly in 25,000 households, with five per cent being Persons Living with Disabilities (PWDs). The cash transfer beneficiaries would be selected from nine districts in Northern Ghana,” she said.

Ms Botchwey observed that COVID-19 is having a major impact on livelihoods and food security across the globe, noting that women and people who work in informal sectors of the economy are the most affected.

To this end, she welcomed the joint effort of the WFP and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to transfer money to 75,000 Ghanaians whose income sources had been affected due to the incidence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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