Beijing – The government of China has made its largest single donation to the work of the United Nations World Food Programme with US$16 million towards the agency’s famine relief operation in Somalia.
Combined with earlier donations, China’s support for WFP is now beyond US$2o million in 2011 alone, and builds on growing support from the country in recent years for WFP’s work fighting hunger around the world.
“This is an enormous gesture of goodwill from the people of China,” said WFP Deputy Executive Director Ramiro Lopes da Silva. “China is a vital donor to WFP programmes around the world and we are honoured to receive such a generous donation. Even more impressive is that China, which continues to make giant strides addressing its own development challenges, shows a genuine concern to support people in need beyond its borders.”
The donation from China will be directed towards WFP’s food assistance operation in Somalia, where 1.5 million people are currently receiving food rations and where WFP is working to secure access to an additional 2.2 million people in the south, most of which is currently cut off due to insecurity.
At the heart of WFP’s relief effort is the provision of ready-to-use supplementary foods –specialised nutritious products designed to protect young children in particular from the ravages of malnutrition. The Chinese donation will help ensure that these vital supplies – as well as general rations of basic foods such as cereals, pulses and cooking oil – reach those most in need over the coming months.
Somalia has some of the world’s highest malnutrition rates with one in four children acutely malnourished in the South.
Prices for staple cereals in Somalia are at record levels, making any already desperate situation even worse. In the south, red sorghum prices have risen 240 percent in the last year.
Although three districts of southern Somalia are the only parts of the Horn of Africa currently experiencing famine conditions, some eleven million people across the region in are currently estimated to be in need of food assistancefollowing the worst drought in 60 years. Other countries affected include Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti.