WFP Chief Warns Of Growing Crisis For World's Hungry

Published on 16 September 2009

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran released this statement in London.

LONDON - In the week that marks the first anniversary of the global financial crisis, there are more hungry people in the world and less food aid than ever before.  For the world’s most vulnerable, the perfect storm is hitting with a vengeance.  

The double whammy of the financial crisis and the still record high food prices around the world is delivering a devastating blow.   Throw in a storm, a drought and a conflict and you have a recipe for disaster.

WFP’s budget to feed 108 million people in 74 countries this year is US$6.7 billion.  But today, we have just US$2.6 billion.  Donors have been extremely generous, but the fact is that the cost of food is still high, needs have gone up and this requires the world to step up to the plate in a bigger way.  

We are making an urgent plea to the world that as the green shoots of economic recovery are appearing, we do not forget those who are most in need, and who have been hit hardest by this crisis. 

Today in the United States and much of Europe, more people are relying on government safety nets for food and support than perhaps ever before, but for 80 per cent of the world, there is perhaps no safety net.  

We urgently need an additional US$3 billion to meet those needs, which is less than 0.01 per cent of what was put on the table to stabilise the world financially.  We think this is critical for the world’s peace and stability.

At our current funding levels, we will – in October – have to cut our services throughout the world, including to half of those we are trying to reach in Kenya.  We will be reaching one-fifth of those we have been targeting due to the impact of high food prices in Bangladesh.  In Somalia we will have to cut rations by half.  Around the world, there are many more examples like this.