WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today expressed its appreciation for more than US$100 million from the United States government. The donation, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, will provide urgently needed food assistance to millions of people suffering from the impact of a severe drought in the Sahel region of West Africa.
The donation exemplifies the US government’s flexible, responsive approach to food emergencies, with $28 million in cash to support local purchases and cash and voucher programs as well as an initial consignment of nearly 7,500 metric tons of food allocated from stocks already available in strategic locations.
“With millions of people across the Sahel struggling to meet their most basic food needs, we deeply appreciate the US government’s multi-pronged approach to addressing this crisis,” said WFP Director of U.S. Relations Allan Jury. “The cash contribution and use of pre-positioned stocks enables us to deliver quick, life-saving assistance in the short-term with significant in-kind food assistance arriving just at the peak of the crisis when the needs are greatest.”
Across a broad swathe of African countries, from Mauritania to Chad, WFP is aiming to reach more than 8 million people facing hunger. For many, this is the second severe drought in two years; savings are exhausted and livestock herds are depleted. High malnutrition rates among young children are expected to increase even further before the next harvest.
WFP and its partners are scaling up operations to reach 8.8 million people with food and nutrition assistance in the coming months. To ensure that food is immediately available for the most vulnerable, especially women and children, WFP is purchasing regional stocks with its cash contributions and deploying specialized teams to the region.
Tapping US pre-positioned food stocks will dramatically reduce the transportation time of the most urgently needed commodities from four months to just four weeks. Additional food supplies shipped from the US are expected to arrive at the peak of the lean season in August when people are waiting for new harvests in late September and October.
In addition to the drought, abnormally high food prices have heightened food insecurity across the region. Staple foods like millet and sorghum are in short supply and prices for cereals are higher compared to the seasonal average for the past five years. Where food is in the market, but hungry families can’t afford to buy it, cash transfer and voucher programmes can be the smartest response to get food to the hungry. US support for these WFP programmes will contribute to a timely and effective response to the urgent food needs of families affected by the crisis.
The US, WFP’s largest donor, has in recent years also become one of largest cash contributors to the agency. In 2012, the US contribution to WFP has reached US$365 million, with $36 million in cash.
So far this year, US donations to the Sahel crisis by country are: Burkina Faso (US$4 million), Chad (US$66 million), Mali (US$ 14 million), Mauritania (US$8 million), and Niger (US$24 million).