Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Japan has contributed US$ 8.89 million of food assistance to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Bangladesh aiming to improve health status and community infrastructure of ultra poor.

Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Masayuki Inoue handed over 7,260 metric tones of rice to John Aylieff, WFP Representative in Bangladesh, a press statement said in the capital, Dhaka on Thursday.

Japanese food assistance will assist 22,500 ultra poor households (total beneficiaries: 112,500) of the country to improve their health status and community infrastructure.

The assistance also helps the WFP to implement its Enhancing Resilience (ER) activities which aims at strengthening the resilience of vulnerable households.

The program will be implemented in four districts: Kurigram, Sirajganj, Jamalpur and Gaibandha, according to the statement.

“This Japanese grant reconfirms our continued support to the Bangladesh government to help its people attain better food security and a more sustainable livelihood,” Masayuki Inoue said at the handing over ceremony.

WFP Representative John Aylieff said: “We are very grateful for this substantial donation, which is coming at a critical time for Bangladesh’s poorest people.”

Japan has been one of the major donors of food aid to Bangladesh since its independence in 1971. So far this year, contributions from Japan to WFP globally have reached US$ 179 million, making Japan WFP’s second largest donor. In 2008 Japan contributed over US$ 8.2 million to WFP in Bangladesh.

BNN/SSR/SI/AD-25June09-5:42 pm (BST)