World Food Program’s (WFP) representative to Cuba, Laura Melo, has praised the cooperation and support extended by Cuban government to UN projects on the island. “We appreciate Cuba’s cooperation from 1963 to now and we have always enjoyed excellent working relationships”, the United Nations official told Cubaplus.
Melo acknowledged that even during difficult times, when it was hard to finance projects, the State responded and looked for viable alternatives in order to ensure that projects materialized.
“What our agency has accomplished on the Island over 40 years, is thanks to the assistance and commitment of the Cuban authorities, something we both value and appreciate”, she added.
The WFP representative paid a visit to Cuba’s easternmost Guantánamo province to assess the development of recovery efforts following hurricane Matthew and to monitor the results of the region’s Country Program.
Melo toured affected areas reviewed the distribution of food (rice, beans an oil) to affected people and vulnerable groups and assessed the impact of the donation on the population.
Last October, after the hurricane left a trail of destruction in several regional municipalities, the UN agency responded immediately by supplying food and other critical resources. She emphasized that the assistance was supported by donations from the government of Canada, Brazil and the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.
Melo expressed her satisfaction with Country Program’s implementation and results and in regards to work undertaken by farmers, she recognized that considerable progress had been made since the project, aimed at strengthening food and nutritional security, had been introduced.
She explained that “this was the first territory to strengthen the production-social protection network chain, and the exchanges we have had clearly indicate the benefits attained”.
She added that her encounters with farmers and directors from Guantánamo’s agricultural sector had verified a more comprehensive understanding of agriculture management and the importance of increasing productivity to meet the needs of the most vulnerable population sectors.
On gender and the need to increase the participation of women in the sector, Melo said they still are challenging issues, but acknowledged that significant progress had been made.
The project’s implementation has enhanced recognition of the importance of and the urgent need to implement early drought warning systems and the necessity to continue working on the what she said was a phenomenon that would continue to affect Cuba.
The WPF sponsored and Canadian Government supported Country Program, aims to strengthen ties between social protection systems in three strategic areas: food security for the most vulnerable; strengthening of the bean production chain and bolstering natural disaster risk management capacity. This agency has been working in Cuba since the terrible devastation caused when hurricane Flora hit Cuba in 1963.
Since then, 20 emergency operations and 8 development projects have been undertaken on the island, which official reports indicate have been worth in excess of 200 million dollars.