Namibia: critical funding shortfall threatens to cut off UN food for 90,000 children

Namibia: critical funding shortfall threatens to cut off UN food for 90,000 children

Namibian child
Some 90,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Namibia will be deprived of vital food supplies in the second half of December because of a critical shortage of funding, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today.

Some 90,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Namibia will be deprived of vital food supplies in the second half of December because of a critical shortage of funding, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today.

“It’s an unjust and preventable tragedy that children – especially orphans – become the victims of funding shortfalls,” WFP Country Director John Prout said, noting that it was already too late to ensure an uninterrupted flow of food to the children through December.

But if $1 million were donated in cash now, WFP could resume rations in January. The longer it takes to receive donations, the longer it will take to get the feeding programmes back on track. WFP is facing a shortfall of $4 million for its operations in Namibia through to April, and needs a total of $9 million through to the end of 2007.

“The international community should not forget that a hungry child in Namibia is every bit as desperate as a vulnerable child in the rest of the world,” Mr. Prout said. “As new problems emerge in different parts of Africa, and the rest of the world, donor focus has shifted away from southern Africa and all our programmes across the region have been affected by the reduced availability of resources.”

WFP has been working with the Namibian Government for the last 18 months to help orphans and vulnerable children in northern Namibia, which has the highest HIV/AIDS rates.

Now that the programmes are underway funding has dried up at the most critical time, the ‘lean season’ when food from the last harvest runs out, the agency noted.

Across the region, excluding Namibia, WFP faces a funding shortfall of $48 million for programmes in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe which assist about 4.5 million people.

Since re-starting operations in Namibia, WFP has not received a single donation towards its operation. Instead, it used internal untied multi-lateral donations, hoping the international community would support these critically-needed feeding programmes.