ROME, Italy, February 15, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The European Commission and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will scale up joint efforts to fight hunger among the most vulnerable in the Sahel – especially women and children – with €30 million in humanitarian assistance.
WFP is aiming to provide food assistance to 8 million people across the Sahel, and these new funds will support feeding programmes for one million children under two years of age and half a million pregnant and breast-feeding mothers who face malnutrition in the coming months.
“In the Sahel the early warning signals are loud and clear and we’re doing everything we can now to reduce the impact of a failed harvest and prevent it from turning into another major food crisis,” said Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.
“The European Commission is one of the world’s largest humanitarian donors and WFP is the largest provider of emergency food assistance so our partnership is natural, our alliance is strong and our collaboration has sustained many suffering men, women and children during many food crises,” she said.
“The window of opportunity to save millions from malnutrition in the Sahel is rapidly closing,” said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. “The European Commission is providing vital resources that WFP needs to act quickly and save lives among the vulnerable women and children who are most at risk from the hunger caused by this regional drought.”
The contribution will help to prevent malnutrition by scaling up food assistance over the coming months. The aim is to anticipate and reduce the impact of the food crisis which threatens 12 million people across the Sahel, according to the Commission.
Last week the European Commission increased the funding it is allocating to the Sahel food crisis to nearly €275 million. WFP is aiming to provide food assistance to some 8 million people in Niger, Chad, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Cameroon. The increasing frequency of droughts in the region has meant that communities have had little time to recover from previous food crises. Family savings are exhausted and livestock herds have not been replenished. WFP is already purchasing food supplies and deploying advance teams to the region ahead of the peak hunger season when food is scarce and prices on local markets are high.
To date, five Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) have declared an emergency and called for international assistance.
This contribution represents yet another step taken together in the 20-year-long partnership between WFP and the European Commission. The WFP turns 50 this year and ECHO – the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department – turns 20. In 2011 the European Union channelled over €1 billion of humanitarian aid through WFP, of which €175 million came directly from the Commission.
World Food Program (WFP)