Spain is doubling its 2009 contribution to WFP to support the agency’s efforts to provide urgent food assistance to 20 million people in the Horn of Africa, where erratic rains, conflict and stubbornly high food prices have produced a prolonged hunger crisis.
ROME – Spain has taken the lead on WFP’s appeal for funds to tackle the persisting hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said on Thursday after the Spanish government announced a fresh donation of €75 million (US$112m).
"This extraordinary contribution brings hope and help to the more than 20 million most vulnerable people that we are committed to assisting in the Horn of Africa," Sheeran said at a press conference in Rome, adding that Spain's was the largest donation yet to the Horn appeal.
Crisis in the Horn
Over the next six months, WFP aims to feed 20 million people in the Horn of Africa region.
In Somalia, WFP is feeding 3.3 million people – or half of the population -- through April 2010.
In Kenya, 4.4 million vulnerable people need emergency food assistance until the next harvest.
In Ethiopia, the number of people requiring relief has increased from 5 million in January to more than 6 million.
In the Karamoja region of northern Uganda, WFP is reaching more than 1 million people, or 90 per cent of the population.
The announcement of the new Spanish donation followed the UN’s three-day World Summit on Food Security in the Italian capital and effectively doubled the country’s contributions to WFP.
“Spain has been a model partner for WFP in spearheading both the response to high food prices and now, in taking the lead on our critical appeal for the Horn of Africa," said Sheeran.
Spain’s Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Soraya Rodriguez Ramos, said her country recognised the need to keep on giving whatever the economic climate. “In times of crisis, development aid is more needed than ever, because the most needy are the ones who suffer the consequences,” she said.
The Spanish government has been steadily increasing its contributions to WFP particularly over the last few years. Even before today’s announcement, Spain was in WFP’s top ten of donor nations having already donated €72 million (US$ 108 m) to the UN agency this year.
WFP has been scaling up its operations in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, which have suffered due to a combination of prolonged drought, recurring conflict, continued high food prices and the global financial crisis.
In September, it launched an emergency appeal for almost US$ 1 billion over the next six months, to provide millions of people throughout the region with food assistance.