SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Batey Relief Alliance (BRA DOMINICANA) has launched a food assistance program valued at $576,440, through which 150 metric tons of dehydrated food will be distributed to over 22,700 people in 11 provinces of the Dominican Republic.
Whitney Jensen Rodrigues, USAID program officer, said, "This program complements our goal of assisting the government of the Dominican Republic to reduce poverty in the most vulnerable areas."
For five consecutive years, USAID and BRA carried out this food program, which responds to the efforts of both institutions in the country to reduce malnutrition and the lack of food amongst the most vulnerable and impoverished populations.
"These foods will be distributed to more than 22,700 people, including pregnant women, children, the elderly and adults severely affected by poverty, HIV / AIDS, tuberculosis and hunger in the bateyes (marginalized sugarcane plantations rural slum communities where Haitian cane cutters and their Dominican descendants live), urban barrios and other rural and border areas with Haiti," said Ulrick Gaillard, BRA's CEO.
This program also has the participation of several government agencies, such as the Presidential AIDS Council (COPRESIDA) and the Ministry of Public Health (SESPAS) through its Provincial Health Directorates (DPS). Additionally, 26 local non-governmental organizations -- including the Centre for Advocacy and Human Solidarity (CEPROSH) and the Dominican Churches for Social Services and hundreds of community health promoters will participate in the distribution of these foods.
Gaillard added that the food assistance program will complement two other important projects of the organizations: BRA's Maternal Child Health Program, providing 55,000 children and pregnant women with daily doses of multivitamin supplements and deworming medicines, and USAID's HIV/AIDS/TB AIDS-Star One Program, which focuses on prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. The latter provides food to undernourished people receiving antiretroviral therapy, or taking medications to fight opportunistic infections and illnesses
An estimated 13 percent of children under five-years of age in Dominican rural areas, and 8 percent in urban areas, are chronically malnourished. Moreover, it is estimated that 27 percent of the population is malnourished.