The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise (MAFSE) in Belize and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will provide digital vouchers to more than 700 registered smallholder farmers and their families to support the recovery of livelihoods lost after Hurricane Lisa hit in November 2022.
Lisa, a category 1 hurricane, affected 93 rural communities where the country’s main areas of production of grains and vegetables are located. It damaged commodities such as vegetables, fruit trees, sugarcane, grains, and livestock, as well as agricultural infrastructure. Total damages in the agriculture sector were estimated by National Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (DANA) to be nearly 20 million Belizean dollars (around US$ 10 million).
“Prior to Hurricane Lisa, our survey conducted with the Government of Belize and the Caribbean Community found that 51 percent of people in Belize were food insecure, with nearly everyone having observed higher food prices due to the cost-of-living crisis in 2022. The socio-economic situation is anticipated to impact the ability of farmers to recover from the hurricane,” stated Regis Chapman, WFP Caribbean Representative and Country Director. “Therefore, we are pleased to partner with the Government to assist smallholder farmers at this critical time before the next planting season.”
Smallholder farmers registered in the Belize Agriculture Information Management System from Belize, Cayo, Orange Walk and Stann Creek districts will be receiving the assistance. The local mobile money service provider DigiWallet will be used to send US$ 350 for agricultural inputs and equipment to be purchased at MAFSE-accredited merchants, with an additional US$ 150 to meet food and other essential needs. The Government of Italy and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints funded this programme.
“The Italian Cooperation is cognizant of the consistent needs of the communities affected by Hurricane Lisa. Our contribution has to be considered within the partnership between the Government of Belize, the World Food Programme and other international partners to help Belizean people, particularly farmers. We are confident that this support will help to restore their economic and social activities particularly through proper targeting, in order to assist the ones most in need.” stated Mauro Ghirotti, Representative of AICS for Centro America and Caribe.
WFP previously partnered with the Ministry of Human Development (MHD) of Belize to provide cash assistance to nearly 11,000 people in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Lisa.
The World Food program is also assisting the Ministry of Agriculture with 40 tablets that will be used by the technical officers to collect farmer data and additional agriculture information. The World Food Programme’s assistance to hurricane relief efforts follows ongoing collaboration with the Government of Belize to strengthen the national social protection system to be better equipped to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable when shocks happen.