Fresh donations boost UN food aid to southern Africa

Fresh donations boost UN food aid to southern Africa

Fresh, end-of-year contributions totalling more than $25.2 million have boosted emergency operations in southern Africa out of a weeks-long funding slump, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today.

With the new donations - the largest coming from Japan, the African Development Bank (ADB), Germany and Canada - the operation is now 62 per cent funded, said WFP, which has been urging donors to respond rapidly to its $507 million appeal to feed at least 12 million people caught in a hunger belt that stretches across Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.

"These donations have come just in time to keep the food pipeline flowing, but we are not out of danger yet. Food is running out fast and millions of people can simply not make it through the next several months without continued food aid," said Judith Lewis, WFP's southern Africa Regional Coordinator.

The agency has so far delivered more than 270,000 tons of relief food to the six countries, but hundreds of thousands more will be needed over the next few months. "Our lack of resources is seriously threatening WFP's ability to feed these growing numbers of desperately hungry of people - many of whom are suffering the double blow of HIV/AIDS and food shortages, which are intrinsically linked in southern Africa," Ms. Lewis added.

Early signs are pointing to another possible drought next year in parts of southern Africa, WFP said. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has warned of potential problems across the region with lower than expected rainfall in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia.