WFP and Islamic relief in joint push to help poor and hungry

WFP has signed a landmark agreement with Islamic Relief Worldwide to increase cooperation on a diverse range of vital humanitarian operations delivering emergency food aid to the hungry and the poor.

WFP has signed a landmark agreement with Islamic Relief Worldwide to increase cooperation on a diverse range of vital humanitarian operations delivering emergency food aid to the hungry and the poor.

Whether it is in Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, or the occupied Palestinian territory, we rely heavily on our colleagues in organisations like Islamic Relief

James Morris, WFP Executive Director

“This is a team that can make a real difference to the lives of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world,” said James Morris, WFP Executive Director.

“For many years, WFP has worked alongside Islamic Relief in crises as diverse as the Pakistan earthquake and the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Strengthening our relationship in this way is the logical next step.”

Partnership

The partnership will deliver assistance to the poor and the hungry, irrespective of their colour, creed, or religion, but it also recognises the fact that the majority of WFP’s beneficiaries are from the Muslim world.

On average, WFP feeds around 90 million people a year and more than half of these come from Muslim communities across the world.

“Whether it is in Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, or the occupied Palestinian territory, we rely heavily on our colleagues in organisations like Islamic Relief because of their strong contacts in the Muslim world,” said Morris.

Allegiances

“As we learned in Lebanon, when the conflict erupted this summer, it is important to have allegiances like this to ensure we can deliver aid quickly and effectively to those who need it most.”

WFP currently has more than two thousand operational partners responding to humanitarian challenges around the world.

Some of these partnerships are with small community based organisations, while others are with large international non-governmental organisations.

Longer-term interventions

The partnership between WFP and Islamic Relief will encompass everything from emergency operations where food is distributed rapidly to large populations of people in immediate need, to more longer-term interventions such as school feeding, or rehabilitation programmes for countries emerging from natural or man-made disasters.

“I am very happy with this formalisation of our relationship, as the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding brings this successful cooperation to the limelight,” said Dr Hany El Banna, President of Islamic Relief.

“Even more importantly, it opens up opportunities for even more intensive cooperation – both in terms of programme and implementation and in terms of policy-level engagement.

As such, this Memorandum of Understanding offers new opportunities to further improve the way in which we serve the world’s poorest communities and our ability to empower them to lift themselves out of poverty.”

Community-based approach

Islamic Relief currently has humanitarian programmes in more than 20 countries across the world, including Afghanistan, Kenya, Bangladesh, Somalia, Pakistan and Mali.

Islamic Relief’s community-based approach and rapid response capacity at the grass roots level will combine with WFP’s longstanding experience in the field of food security, and its ability to mobilise resources quickly to deal with evolving crises.

Alongside initiatives to enhance cooperation with agencies like Islamic Relief, WFP has also been working to develop strong partnerships with Muslim countries as donor nations.

Generous donations

Generous donations to WFP’s work from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Gulf countries have dramatically increased overall contributions to the point where the region as a whole may rank among the top 10 donors in the global effort to combat hunger by the end of 2006.

Saudi Arabia is now the 16th largest donor to WFP’s global activities with contributions of nearly US$31 million this year alone – a tenfold increase since 2005.

WFP operations in Lebanon, Cambodia, the occupied Palestinian territory, and Pakistan, as well as East and West Africa are among the recent beneficiaries of Saudi support.