Faced with the tightening of the blockade, Cuba expands its cooperation with the World Food Programme

Cuba Debate | Thursday, 7 March 2024 | Click here for original article

Cuba has maintained a long-standing relationship with the World Food Programme (WFP), from which it has received support and response in situations of natural disasters and other emergencies that have impacted the country.

This relationship began in 1963, with an emergency operation that provided assistance to the people most affected by Hurricane Flora. The WFP is a food assistance agency of the United Nations (UN), which supports more than 120 countries and territories.

As part of this alliance, in 1993 a Basic Agreement was signed between our government and the WFP, which is still in force. In July 2021, the Program Executive Board approved the Country Strategic Plan for Cuba until 2024, the framework under which the bilateral relationship is currently developed.

It is worth highlighting that theW WFP's support for Cuba has included the execution of projects in the agricultural and food production sectors, the donation of supplies to support government efforts in confronting meteorological phenomena and the distribution of food to vulnerable groups in Cuba.

Previously, Cuba has also contributed to WFP operations with donations of certain supplies, which the Programme has allocated to countries in which it operates.

An example of this is the annual donation of 2,500 tons of sugar since 1996, which has helped different countries around the world such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Honduras, Haiti, Ethiopia and Angola, among others.

The total value of the contributions made by Cuba to the WFP as a sugar donor amounted to more than 8 million dollars until 2009.

In a complex economic context as a result of the combined effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of adverse weather events, and mainly, the intensification of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade, the country faces great challenges to access international markets and financial sources, which has been aggravated by the unjust and arbitrary inclusion of Cuba on the List of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Given this scenario and due to the Government's high commitment to national food security, while also taking into account the excellent state of relations with the Programme, Cuba requested WFP assistance for the purchase of powdered milk to guarantee supply to Cuban boys and girls, which is inserted in the practice of the bilateral relationship, long-standing cooperation and the actions identified within the Country Strategic Plan for Cuba until 2024.

As a result, the arrival in the coming days of a ship from Brazil has been assured, with 375 tons of powdered milk, which guarantees distribution for children between zero and six years old.

Additionally, 500 tons of milk have been contracted with the United States, under the exceptions established by that Government to sell certain products to the island, through immediate payment and in cash; as well as 245 from Canada, 500 more from Brazil, and 600 from other suppliers.

As stated by sources consulted by us, Cuba rigorously complies with the indicators and principles of control and monitoring of food delivery established by the WFP at an international level, which are permanently monitored by the Programme, together with organizations and institutions.

The basic basket of the Cuban population includes the supply of powdered milk to children, at subsidised prices, from birth to 6 years of age. This has been guaranteed uninterruptedly, even in the years when the situation of the national economy has been most complex.

For Cuba, the food and nutritional security of its population is a State priority, endorsed in laws and other governing documents such as the Law on Sovereignty and Food and Nutritional Security (LSSAN) or the National Economic and Social Development Plan of Cuba until 2030.

However, there are still important challenges in terms of food security and nutrition, as Cuba is a country that has had unilateral coercive measures imposed that hinder economic, commercial and financial development with a negative impact on social development.

As a result of the programmes and public policies created by the Cuban Government, social improvements have been observed such as:

The main challenges are to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding; reduce anemia due to iron deficiency in children and pregnant women and childhood overweight; prevent accidents; and reduce maternal mortality, the adolescent fertility rate and voluntary abortion.

Among the lessons learned are the priority that the State gives to health, the programmatic management of maternal and child care, the guarantee of universal coverage, the systematic collection of information for decision-making, the integration of the sectors and the participation social in health. Sustaining and improving the results achieved will contribute to the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030.

The right to food is a human right inherent to girls or boys, women, men.

In Cuba, since the Triumph of the Revolution in 1959, childhood has been the center of multiple social policies in order to reverse the situation in which this age group lived, especially in rural areas. The main actions have been aimed at preserving the health and well-being of boys and girls through the relationship between sectors such as health, education, sports and recreation, commerce, among others.

The guarantee of adequate nutrition for the entire population is a permanent concern of the State. In Cuba there is support for mothers for exclusive breastfeeding by granting 390 days of maternity leave. The payment for the first six months of parental leave is 80% of the average monthly salary of the previous year, and that of the following six months is 50% of your average monthly salary.

Cuba has subscribed to international agreements that enshrine the right of all human beings to healthy eating.

In the period covered by the COVID 19 and post-COVID 19 pandemic (2020-2022), a time of extreme global geopolitical difficulty, the government of the United States of America increased its hostility against Cuba, preventing access to the fuel and gas market. liquefied, I unfairly include Cuba on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, which prevents normal access to international resources and global banking relations. Limited access to varied, healthy and good quality foods is a challenge.

Cuba is a small island developing State affected by extreme hydrometeorological phenomena and climate change, which negatively impacts food systems; creates a high dependence on food imports and world trade.

The country relies on convertible currency income from its exports, which has decreased considerably due to the impact of COVID19 and the unilateral coercive measures of the United States of America against Cuba.The country has the support of the United Nations Development System. It has cooperation programs with UNCEF, UNFPA, UNDP, FAO, WHO -PAHO, with FAO, IFAD and WFP.

As has been publicly recognized, Cuba appreciates the support of the WFP on highly prioritized issues for the country, such as the implementation at the national and local level of the Law on Food Sovereignty and Food and Nutritional Security, as well as in matters of nutritional education.

It also ratifies the willingness to continue expanding cooperation with the Program and promoting the climate of understanding and mutual respect that has prevailed in the bilateral relationship over the years.

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