New support in Afghanistan signals Canada's role as global leader in food aid

WFP has thanked the Canadian Government for a contribution of CDN$4.9 million for the purchase of 6,600 metric tons of food to assist tens of thousands of people affected by drought and conflict in Afghanistan.

WFP has thanked the Canadian Government for a contribution of CDN$4.9 million for the purchase of 6,600 metric tons of food to assist tens of thousands of people affected by drought and conflict in Afghanistan.

The support we are getting from Canada in Afghanistan and in many other parts of the world illustrates its role as a global leader in food aid

John Powell, WFP Deputy Executive Director for Fundraising and Communications

The food will be distributed in the troubled province of Kandahar.

The Canadian support comes at a time when continuing military operations and insurgent attacks in the south and east of Afghanistan are imposing severe restrictions on humanitarian work in areas where WFP has numerous planned activities.

Meeting needs

However, thousands of displaced people are continuing to return home and many of them require food assistance. “Canada’s support to our operations over the past year has been crucial in Afghanistan, particularly in Kandahar,” said John Powell, WFP Deputy Executive Director for Fundraising and Communications.

“We have worked closely together to design a programme that can best meet the needs of people affected by drought and displaced by war.”

Since July 2006, WFP has been providing assistance to over 1.7 million Afghans affected by severe drought conditions.

Beating the snow

The agency also successfully positioned more than 20,000 tons of food in late 2006 to ensure that hundreds of thousands of people living in remote mountain areas could meet their food needs through winter, when access is cut off by snow.

“The support we are getting from Canada in Afghanistan and in many other parts of the world illustrates its role as a global leader in food aid,” Powell added.

Second largest donor

“Last year, the Canadian Government donated a total of CDN$180 million to WFP, making it our second largest single-country donor.”

One area where Canada has played a particularly significant role has been in food for education. Over the past three years, Canada has donated CDN$75 million to WFP school feeding projects in sub-Saharan Africa, bringing change to a whole generation of children.

The average increase in girls’ enrolment in WFP-assisted schools across Canadian-supported countries was 27.1 percent, with the largest increases in Mozambique, Ethiopia and Mali.

Commitment to Afghanistan

Canada’s importance to WFP was also marked this week with the election by its 36 member states of James Melanson, Canada’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the Rome-based UN food agencies, to the post of President of the WFP Executive Board for one year.

Speaking at today’s first 2007 regular session of the Executive Board, Melanson emphasised Canada’s commitment to supporting WFP in Afghanistan.

“Canada has a firm commitment to the people of Afghanistan, to building peace and stability there. And food aid is a crucial part of that process,” he said.