Top WFP official in Canada to highlight food price rise crisis

Published on 25 March 2008

Following WFP’s extraordinary emergency appeal last week to world government leaders for critical funds to address soaring food and fuel prices, the agency’s Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions, Sheila Sisulu, starts meetings today with Canadian officials.

Following the World Food Programme’s extraordinary emergency appeal last week to world government leaders for

We are seeing a new face of hunger – people who suddenly can no longer afford the food they see on store shelves. Prices have soared beyond their reach
Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions, Sheila Sisulu

critical funds to address soaring food and fuel prices, the agency’s Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions, Sheila Sisulu, starts meetings today with Canadian officials.

During her three-day trip to Canada, Sisulu will discuss the devastating impact of record-high food prices on millions of poor and hungry people.

Budget shortfall

On 25 February, WFP – which plans to feed more than 70 million people this year -- announced a US$500 million budget shortfall. In the three weeks since, food prices have increased a further 20 percent. High commodity prices show no sign of abating any time soon.

“We are seeing a new face of hunger – people who suddenly can no longer afford the food they see on store shelves. Prices have soared beyond their reach,” said Sisulu.

“The world must respond to help the new hungry as well as the world’s ‘bottom billion’ – those already struggling on less than dollar a day. That same dollar today buys much less food.”

Poverty line

Rising food and fuel prices, competition between biofuels and food, increased demand for food by countries with emerging economies and erratic weather are hitting hardest those on the poverty line.

In 2007, Canada was WFP’s third largest donor, providing 176 million Canadian dollars to help feed the world’s hungry.

Canada was also one of the first countries to contribute when the Afghan Government and the UN appealed in January this year for help to feed an additional 2.5 million people hit by rising food costs.

Urgent plea

WFP requested US$77 million to deliver 89,000 metric tons of food to the poorest Afghans and Canada responded with 10 million Canadian dollars.

The urgent plea came after wheat prices in Afghanistan increased by 67 percent in less than a year. On average, Afghans who are not engaged in agriculture now spend three quarters of their income on food.

During her meetings this week, Sisulu will urge Canada to contribute additional funding by 1 May to avoid the need to cut rations or to dramatically reduce the number of people WFP feeds.

WFP is working closely with donor governments, UN partners and experts, as well as governments in beneficiary countries, on long-term solutions while simultaneously tackling these emergency needs.