On a three-day visit to Japan, the WFP's Executive Director, James Morris, warned that time was running out to reach the hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of assistance after the 8 October earthquake and urged more donor support to the unprecedented aid challenge in Pakistan.
“We have been presented with an unprecedented logistical challenge – the toughest one we’ve ever faced.” Morris said.
“At the best of times this is very difficult terrain, but with landslides blocking roads, plus the onset of winter, getting to these people is taking far longer. And there is very little time left.”
“While we are grateful to donations received so far, the world is not responding as it should be,” said Morris, urging more donor support to the crisis.
Japan, which confirmed its contribution of US$ 2.5 million just one week after WFP sought emergency aid as part of the UN’s overall flash appeal, was one of the first countries to donate to WFP’s relief effort.
To date WFP has received US$ 16.5 million of the US$ 88 million it requires, with a shortfall in funding of 81%.
Morris also called on the Japanese government, business leaders and civil societies to give a major boost to efforts worldwide to end hunger, with a particular emphasis on the world’s 300 million hungry children.
“It is scandalous that in the 21st century, hunger is still the biggest killer of all – wiping out more people than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined,” Morris said. “And it is particularly tragic that so many of its victims should be young children.”
Meeting key officials from the Government of Japan as well as parliamentarians, prominent individuals and business leaders during his visit to Japan, Morris hopes to build up support from various sectors. “If we can all work together to give today’s children the chance to reach their full potential in adulthood and prepare them better as parents, we can actually break the inter-generational cycle of hunger and poverty.”
“The Japanese people know first-hand what an immense difference it makes for a child to be well fed and educated. Japan’s school feeding programme was a major factor in the country’s incredible success today,” Morris added.
WFP is committed achieving the first Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of the world’s population that suffers from hunger and malnutrition by 2015.
The agency is convinced that the best way to achieve that is by eliminating child hunger.
Of the 300 million hungry children in the world, almost 100 million currently receive no assistance at all. In addition, approximately 15 million pregnant and nursing mothers are themselves malnourished and their children are at risk of malnutrition.
WFP and its partners hope to provide a comprehensive health and nutrition package for the women and children under five. For children of school age, a programme of school feeding, complete with vaccinations and de-worming treatment is foreseen.
The World Food Programme has estimated it would cost about US$ 5 billion a year to reach all of the women and children not currently being assisted.
It anticipates that much of the food and other costs would be provided by the developing countries, at a cost of roughly US$ 2 billion. The remaining US$ 3 billion would need to come from international sources.
“Raising that amount is extremely challenging. Generosity, however, is not lacking. We have seen in many crises that people can be extraordinarily generous once they see the magnitude of the need,” said Morris, stressing even more support from the developed world was critical to bringing an end to child hunger.