Saudis step in to support WFP in neglected West Africa

Published on 19 September 2006

WFP has welcomed a cash donation of US$10 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to its operations in West Africa, where many of the poorest people in the world are living under trying conditions.

WFP has welcomed a cash donation of US$10 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to its operations in West Africa, where many of the poorest people in the world are living under trying conditions.

Most of the time, West Africa is far from the headlines, but we have absolutely crucial work to do here. This contribution is a major boost to that effort

WFP Regional Director for West Africa, Mustapha Darboe

The Saudi donation comes at a particularly crucial time for the drought-prone Sahel, as the annual ‘lean season’ nears its end people still struggle to feed their families until the next harvest.

Recent floods have also displaced thousands throughout the region, making the delivery of food aid all the more pressing.

The gift is to be shared among eight countries: Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Generous donation

“This is an extremely generous donation which comes at an important time and is destined for some of the poorest countries in the world, where millions of people still struggle each day to find the food they need for a healthy diet,” said WFP Regional Director for West Africa, Mustapha Darboe.

“Most of the time, West Africa is far from the headlines, but we have absolutely crucial work to do here. This contribution is a major boost to that effort,” he said.

Over half the funds are destined for the Sahel, where malnutrition continues to take its toll amongst the most vulnerable young children.

Struggling

Years of underdevelopment have left countries such as Niger, Mauritania and Mali struggling to address chronic problems of malnutrition in young children.

This is a structural crisis that made headlines last year in Niger, but will take many years to reverse.

However, the Saudi contributions to these countries (US$2 million each to Niger and Mauritania and US$1.5 million to Mali) will bolster WFP efforts to bring relief in the short term and encourage a more comprehensive long term solution.

The US$1 million allocated to Senegal will allow the purchase of 1,500 tons of rice, pulses and oil which will be distributed to the most food-insecure households in the southern Casamance region, including returned refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), orphans, physically disabled people, and more than 130,000 school children.

High-level delegation

A high-level Saudi delegation will undertake a four-day visit to WFP operations in Senegal, Mauritania and Niger between September 19 and 22.

The delegation is led by WFP Special Ambassador Abdulaziz Arrukban, and includes senior officials from the Saudi Ministry of Finance.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has donated millions of dollars bilaterally or multilaterally to relief and development projects over the last 30 years,” said Arrukban.

Ongoing commitment

“The contributions to WFP in West Africa are part of its ongoing commitment to helping humanity through assisting those who need help most.”

An increasingly significant donor to WFP operations worldwide, Saudi Arabia has contributed nearly US$30 million this year alone.

WFP operations in Cambodia, the occupied Palestinian territories, the Horn of Africa and Pakistan are among other recent beneficiaries.