This week, in time for the planting season starting in April, the ICRC is distributing 20 kilos of rice seed, two kilos of beans and one vegetable-seed kit per household to 30,000 families living in north-western and south-eastern Liberia (20,000 families in Grand Gedeh, Nimba and Sinoe counties, 8,000 in Lofa county and 2,000 in Bparpulo county). In all, 150,000 people will benefit from the programme, which should enable many families to sow and harvest rice back home for the first time in years.
The ICRC had previously distributed axes, machetes, hoes, rakes, shovels and other tools to the same households through village committees. Both distributions were planned after the needs in each county had been carefully assessed.
In Lofa, one of Liberia's traditional breadbaskets, most fields have not been cultivated for the past three years, but people have been returning to the county at an accelerated pace since mid-February and the total number of returnees has now reached 40,000. In Grand Gedeh as well, most people have returned to their villages.
Since the war ended in early August 2003, the focus of ICRC programmes has shifted from displaced persons and residents in and around Monrovia to residents and returnees in the country's 15 counties. In addition to providing agricultural assistance, the ICRC is currently involved in activities to protect civilians and people deprived of their freedom, restore family links, assist internally displaced persons and other vulnerable residents, improve access to safe drinking water and spread knowledge of international humanitarian law. It also provides support for and cooperates with the Liberia National Red Cross Society.
For further information, please contact:
Virginia de la Guardia, ICRC Monrovia, tel.: ++377 528 089