Having fed 30 million people in China over the past 26 years, WFP will end its food aid assistance to the country at the end of 2005, and is looking to China for a broader partnership to combat hunger worldwide.
“The Chinese Government’s tremendous success in alleviating hunger means our food aid can be put to better use elsewhere,” James Morris, WFP Executive Director, said in Beijing today.
“Since WFP began working in China in 1979, the Government has lifted some 300 million of its people out of extreme poverty. This immense achievement is a tribute to the commitment of its leaders and the diligence and dynamism of its people,” Morris said.
China has the expertise and resources that we need to address the problem of hunger worldwide
James Morris, WFP Executive Director
He is on a two-day visit to China, which includes meetings with Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing and the Vice Minister of Agriculture, Zhang Baowen, to discuss further cooperation.
Morris believes that a strong partnership between WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian agency and China, and the world’s most populous country, could have enormous bearing on the fight against global hunger.
“WFP and China know that the problem of global hunger can be solved because it has been addressed so impressively here. China has the expertise and resources that we need to address the problem of hunger worldwide” said Morris.
Morris said that although WFP is phasing out its food aid to China, the organization is not leaving the country.
“Next year, the Beijing office, entirely staffed by Chinese nationals, will focus on strengthening our partnership with the Chinese Government and private sector, working with China to utilize its technical expertise in emergency interventions and developing China as a procurement centre for goods and services.”
China now produces and imports enough food to feed its massive population. The food available is enough to give every citizen an average of 3,000 calories per day, which is appreciably higher than the world average.
War against hunger
While pockets of food insecurity persist in some remote regions, it is clear that China is winning the war against hunger. However, Mr. Morris warned that elsewhere in the world, the war against hunger is being lost:
“Despite China’s progress, 850 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger, and the number is rising.
"That is unacceptable from every point of view – moral, humanitarian, economic and political, especially when our planet is wealthier than ever, and produces more than enough food to feed everyone.”
"Were it not for China’s singular progress, we would be even further behind in the global fight to achieve the Millennium Development Goal to halve the proportion of the world’s population that lives in extreme poverty and hunger," said Morris.
The Chinese Government has been an increasingly strong supporter of WFP. Since 2001, the Government has provided twice the value of resources mobilized by WFP for projects in the country.
In 2005 it increased its annual donations to international WFP operations by 40 percent and donated US$1 million in canned fish through the agency to Sri Lankan victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the first donation designated for a specific WFP emergency.
Since 1979, WFP has supported some 30 million Chinese, mostly in remote central and western regions, helping to meet their immediate food needs and facilitating the creation of community-level assets through food-for-work and food-for-training schemes.
Such assets include farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems and drinking water facilities.