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Sahel Response Still High Priority, Says WFP Executive Director On Visit To Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU – One year after the World Food Programme (WFP) launched its response to drought in eight countries of the Sahel region, the organization’s executive director Ertharin Cousin has visited Burkina Faso to see the results and discuss the future.

Cousin was joined in her visits to WFP activities by the minister of education, the minister responsible for literacy, the governor of Burkina Faso’s Sahel region and representatives of other UN agencies and other partners.

In a visit to the field which included stops at a nutrition centre, a school feeding programme and a soil conservation project in which women played a key role, Cousin noted that the activities reduced the impact of last year’s drought and helped communities to be more resilient to future shocks.  But the work is not over.

“It is not a matter of ‘if’ there will be a drought, but ‘when’. If we continue to follow through with what we started last year, we can truly build the resilience of the hungry poor people in the Sahel,” Cousin said.  

The Executive Director also visited a refugee camp in the in the village of Mentao, near the border with Mali. More than 47,000 Malian refugees are taking shelter in Burkina Faso following a year of conflict in their home country.  More than 5,000 have arrived since the start of this year.

Cousin met with President Blaise Compaoré, as well as the ministers of agriculture and food security, education, foreign affairs, health and social action and national solidarity. She praised the close partnership between the UN community, government ministries and local community organizations.

WFP plans to assist 1.4 million people in Burkina Faso in 2013 with a variety of programmes including school feeding, programmes to help build community assets such as irrigation systems, training activities, nutrition programmes for pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children and food and nutrition assistance for orphans and people living with HIV.

WFP has been working in Burkina Faso since 1967. The country has been at the forefront of innovative food security programmes and was the location of WFP’s first urban ‘voucher’ programme in West Africa. Vouchers are effective in communities where food is available in the market but people don’t have enough money to buy it – giving them the choice to purchase locally-grown nutritious food and supporting the local economy.

In 2013 WFP’s plans to assist 5.5 million people in eight countries of the Sahel region – Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and The Gambia  – with a total budget of $611 million.

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.  Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address:
Celestine Ouedraogo, WFP/Ouagadougou Tel. +22650306077, Mob. +22675144747
Malek Triki, WFP/Dakar, Tel. + 221 338 496500, Mob. +221 776 375964
Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41229178564, Mob. +41794734570
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634