SWEDEN MAKES RECORD INCREASE IN FOOD AID
ROME - The United Nations World Food Programme today welcomes a record increase in Sweden's contribution for WFP's work in alleviating hunger.
The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently confirmed a multilateral un-earmarked contribution for WFP during 2005 of SEK 390 million (approximately US$57 million) which is a 46 percent increase (SEK 100 million or US$18 million) over the previous year.
WFP attaches great importance to Sweden's multilateral funding for relief, as this form of support allows the agency greater flexibility in carrying out its operations, especially in forgotten emergencies. It is also much easier for WFP to plan, thanks to the contribution being announced early in the year.
"A contribution of this kind is extremely valuable to WFP as it allows us to assist the hungry poor in the best possible manner. WFP encourages all its donors to provide unrestricted multilateral cash contributions," said WFP Deputy Executive Director John Powell, head of Fundraising and Communications.
Other advantages of Sweden's multilateral funding include the opportunity for WFP to fund the so-called "forgotten emergencies" - operations far from the media spotlight - that receive little or no attention through directed contributions. Orphans and refugees in Namibia and people recovering from conflict in Guinea Bissau are examples of how beneficiaries can benefit from this flexibility. Such flexible funding also helps WFP avoid periodic breaks in the food distribution chain.
Over the past five years, Sweden's total contribution to WFP has more than doubled - rising from US$28 million in 2001 to US$62 million confirmed so far in 2005.
Sweden is sending an encouraging signal and sets an example for other donors," Powell said.
In addition to the annual contribution from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Swedish Agency for Development Assistance, Sida, provides WFP with extra contributions to address specific relief needs, mostly for new emergencies and special operations. In 2004, Sida's contributions to WFP emergency operations were US$4.3 million, and in a response to the Tsunami crisis, Sida recently contributed another US$4.3 million to WFP special operations in Asia.
"WFP is enormously grateful to Sweden for both its generosity towards the hungry poor, and also for making available standby experts and service modules to WFP through the Swedish Rescue Services Agency (SRSA)," said Powell. "They are a critical partner in our emergency preparedness and response capacity - a recent example was the setting up and running by SRSA of a camp for humanitarian workers in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, following the tsunami disaster."
Sweden increased its official development aid, ODA, from 0.74 percent of GNP in 2002 to 0.81 percent in 2003, and plans to reach the one percent mark in the coming years, a step which would render it the largest Nordic donor in terms of ODA.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency. Each year, we feed an average of 90 million people, including 56 million hungry children, in more than 80 countries.
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