The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today began the distribution of food assistance to hungry families in Somalia. The food was purchased using a US$16 million donation from China – the country’s largest single donation to WFP humanitarian operations.
MOGADISHU-- Senior representatives of the Chinese government were accompanied by WFP Somalia Country Director Stefano Porretti on a visit to two WFP programme sites supported by the Chinese contribution, including a centre distributing cooked meals to vulnerable communities. WFP and its partners provide hot meals in 24 centres across Mogadishu to an average of 100,000 people per day. Cooked meals are also being provided in five hospitals, in addition to other activities.
“The Chinese government and people are deeply concerned about the drought and famine situation in the Horn of Africa, which is the worst in 60 years. The donation we have made shows the sincere friendship between the two countries and people, and our firm support for helping the Somali people to fight the famine,” said Han Chunlin, a senior official of the Chinese government in Kenya, during a handover ceremony that took place today at the main WFP warehouse in Mogadishu.
Combined with earlier donations, China’s support for WFP globally now amounts to over US$20 million in 2011 alone, and builds on growing support from the country in recent years for WFP’s work fighting hunger worldwide. The US$16 million donation will allow WFP to reach an estimated 1.7 million people with life-saving food supplies for a month, including 100,000 malnourished children who will receive special nutritional support at 22 nutrition centres around the city.
“We are extremely grateful to China for this substantial donation, which is a clear indication of the vital role China is now playing as a donor to our international humanitarian efforts,” said WFP’s Porretti.
Part of the Chinese support is being used to purchase and distribute specialized foods such as Plumpy ’Sup, a ready-to-eat nutrition product that WFP uses to prevent malnutrition in children, who are among the most vulnerable in a hunger crisis.
Somalia has some of the world’s highest malnutrition rates, with 3 out of 10 children under the age of 5 being acutely malnourished.
Drought in the Horn of Africa, coupled with famine and conflict in Somalia, has affected over 13 million people. WFP is supporting food assistance operations in five countries in the region: Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda.