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UN relief agencies distribute food and seeds to half a million in Burundi

UN relief agencies distribute food and seeds to half a million in Burundi

United Nations relief agencies have begun distributing food and other supplies to more than half a million Burundians to help prevent hungry people from eating seeds in order to feed themselves.

As part of the "Seeds Protection Ration," the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has started to distribute 5,800 tons of food aid to assist 535,000 vulnerable people in provinces most affected by insecurity in Burundi. The food aid will be given together with seeds and farm tools provided by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The rationing is enough to last 20 days, and is planned for two planting seasons - in September-October and February-March - and is normally carried out every year in Burundi due to its success.

"This programme is expected to contribute towards increased agricultural production of the most vulnerable populations, which will improve their food security," said Mustapha Darboe, WFP's Country Director in Burundi. "Farmers can market the food surpluses, and use the income to create assets as well as improve their livelihoods."

Continual fighting in Burundi has resulted in significant population displacements, erosion of assets, significant livestock theft, as well as destruction of homesteads. Nearly 1.4 million people in Burundi, mainly internally displaced persons, do not have adequate access to food and thus depend on WFP food assistance.