UDP: Citizens to receive support from food assistance program

The United Democratic Party (UDP) announce to support from food assistance program.

UDP: Families to receive support from food assistance program
UDP: Families to receive support from food assistance program

Belize: The United Democratic Party (UDP) finds the pronouncements of the Minister of Human Development, Families, and Indigenous People’s Affairs that indicate a drastic decrease in the number of families that will receive support through the government’s food assistance program and even the possible discontinuation of the program very concerning.

UDP: Citizens to receive support from food assistance program
UDP: Citizens to receive support from food assistance program

The past UDP administration implemented the Food Assistance Programme (FAP) as a part of its multifaceted response to the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on Belizean families.

Through a debt from the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), 40,000 families were assisted with up to 6 food baskets between March and November 2020 following the loan agreement with OFID. Furthermore, the basket of goods under the existing Pantry program was scaled up in line with the FAP food basket.

Additionally, the 4,000 families on the Pantry program were no longer required to pay subsidized costs for the baskets. It was recognized that many of these poor working families had lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic.

Our country continues to contend with the devastating effects of the COVID 19 pandemic. In the face of a weakened economy due to sharp downturns in the tourism and other foreign exchange earning sectors, subsistence farmers still struggling from the effects of Hurricanes Nana and Eta, an indefinite curfew, and other COVID 19 related measures that negatively impact the livelihoods of many people, including street food vendors, increased number of COVID 19 infections, with more Belizean families becoming vulnerable as their savings are depleted and informal support systems collapse due to extended time of the pandemic and mass politically motivated firings, it is alarming that the government is seeking to drastically scale down and even discontinue this vital food assistance program.

This course of action is compounded because the last food assistance was distributed almost a month ago. Furthermore, the BCCAT program that was negotiated with the World Bank by the past UDP administration and designed to provide medium-term assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable families impacted by the pandemic still has not started.

It is also very concerning that the Food Assistance program designed as a temporary COVID 19 relief measure has been seemingly merged with the Pantry program. The Pantry Programme is an integral part of the larger social safety net framework that supports poor and vulnerable families beyond the pandemic. Both programs are now in danger of being abolished.

Under the past UDP administration, existing grants and loan agreements with the various international development partners and international financial institutions were renegotiated and repurposed to prioritize funding to the health sector and programs that helped society segments make vulnerable by the pandemic to meet their basic needs.

The UDP calls on the government to find strategic ways to ensure that all needy families continue to receive this essential food support until they can stabilize from the effects of the pandemic.

Click here for more news