LIMA, PERU - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) - the largest humanitarian organisation in the world - today pledged support for the Peruvian government in the implementation of a pilot nutritional project in the remote, south central department of Huancavelica.
The project will produce and distribute a cost-effective fortified food (Inka Mix) to 92,000 children in pre-schools and daycare centers, while providing nutritional training to 14,000 pregnant women and mothers of young children in a region with 53 per cent of chronic child malnutrition, the highest of Peru.
"We welcome the opportunity to work with the Peruvian government and the private sector in combating chronic malnutrition in Huancavelica. This project will provide a unique opportunity for WFP, the Government of Peru and the NGOs to reduce the number of chronically malnourished children in the area," said James T. Morris, WFP's Executive Director who is on a two-day visit to the country.
"The impact of malnutrition on the lives of young children is devastating. But perhaps even more worrying is the effect that a bad diet, lacking in vitamins and micronutrients, can have on the unborn child. Hunger inherited from the mother by the unborn child places a handicap on a life even before it has started," he added.
WFP will provide US $3.2 million to help finance this project. The initiative will help the government strengthen management of food assistance programs in the department, as well as develop capacities to produce and distribute a fortified cost-effective nutritional supplement that will provide essential vitamins and minerals to malnourished children between the ages of one and 11 years in schools in the targeted area.
The project aims to complement the decentralization efforts undertaken by the Peruvian government to run food aid programs, and will be managed with the essential collaboration of teachers and parents who will prepare and distribute the food, manage school kitchens, school gardens and farms.
WFP's Executive Director is in Lima to strengthen partnerships with both the Peruvian government and other allies in the fight against hunger. In addition to meeting with President Alejandro Toledo, Morris will meet donor country representatives based in Peru and the private sector to coordinate actions to end malnutrition and hunger among Peruvians.
During his visit, Morris will be accompanied by Peruvian diplomat Miguel Barreto who recently became President of WFP's Executive Board in Rome, and Zoraida Mesa, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
"This visit demonstrates the high interest and continuous support of WFP to contribute to social programs aimed at eradicating hunger and malnutrition in Peru," said WFP Peru Representative Dorte Ellehammer.
About WFP Executive Director, James T. Morris
For over 35 years, James T. Morris has combined a distinguished career of business, philanthropic and humanitarian leadership with a personal life of public service. Both his career and his voluntary activities have reflected a commitment to improving the lives of others with a special interest in young people at risk and giving something back to his city, his country and the international community.
After serving six years in city government in Indianapolis, Indiana, primarily as chief of staff for Mayor Richard Lugar, Morris moved to the Lilly Endowment, Inc. in 1973. He began as Director of community development for the Endowment, one of the world's largest charitable foundations. Morris moved to Vice president, Executive Vice president and then President, and served in that role for six years, until 1989.
WFP has worked in Peru since 1964. Its food assistance to Peru's poorest regions in 2003 amounted to more than 42,000 metric tons, worth US$ 11.6 million. In 2004, WFP aims to assist more than 300,000 beneficiaries through its food for education programmes (206,000) and watershed development programmes (95,000), implemented in coordination with the Peruvian government and NGOs.
In 2003 WFP fed 104 million people in 81 countries and received new contributions totaling US$ 3.8 billion. Of the 104 million people assisted, 56 million were children.
"Giving food and education to poor children is the most important thing that we can do to help the development of people and nations," said Morris.
WFP reaches out to hungry people who cannot help themselves -- victims of war and natural disasters, families affected by HIV/AIDS and orphans who have lost their parents to the pandemic and school children in poor communities.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign For just US$19 cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school -- a gift of hope for a brighter future.
Visit our website: www.wfp.org
Deputy Director Communications
Tel: + 1-202-653-0010
Cell: +1- 202-422-3383
WFP/ Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: +507-3173 900
José Carlos Requena
Tel: 440 4000
Cell: 9813 5482