Funding shortfall for supplies hampers aid for southern Africa crisis

Funding shortfall for supplies hampers aid for southern Africa crisis

The United Nations today expressed concern over a funding shortfall, particularly for non-food items, for the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa, saying that relief money was being stretched to the limit.

The UN Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Support Office said since it launched a $611 million appeal in July, almost half of the pledges received - 49 per cent - had been for the food sector. Of the almost $269 million received, just 8 per cent was earmarked for water and sanitation, 15 per cent for health and 27 per cent for agricultural support.

"Funding shortfalls mean that UN agencies are stretching scarce resources and thus facing difficulty responding fully to the needs of the people covered under the appeal," the Regional Office said.

In five of the six countries covered under the appeal, people had been affected by increasingly frequent outbreaks of cholera, the Office said. The UN had provided cholera-control supplies in areas most prone to its outbreak in Swaziland, where 47 per cent do not have access to clean water, and in Malawi, where water-borne disease had killed 900 people and affected 32,000 others.

The Office said while it needed $48.3 million for health interventions in Zimbabwe, only $7.1 million had been received. Meanwhile, programmes set up by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) intended to help people in drought-affected areas had received only 27 per cent of the required funding.