First Zambian donation to UN food agency averts cuts in food aid
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed its first ever contribution of food from the Zambian Government -- a donation of 10,000 metric tons of maize worth $2.5 million -- that will allow hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Zambians to keep receiving crucial food assistance beyond September.
“WFP is extremely grateful for this very generous and very timely donation from the Zambian Government, which will avert any immediate cuts to our assistance operations in Zambia,” said David Stevenson, WFP Country Director in Zambia.
“The contribution provides a lifeline for vulnerable people across the country, including thousands of AIDS patients, orphans and their families,” he added.
While Zambia has enjoyed good harvests for the past three years, a combination of localized crop failures, crippling poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS has left hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in need of food assistance.
Without this substantial donation, WFP would have been forced to halt its remaining food assistance programmes for 370,000 Zambians by the end of September.
Funding constraints already forced the agency to reduce the number of beneficiaries in Zambia from 500,000 to 370,000 in June.
Further cuts would have left patients on anti-retroviral therapy or enrolled in home-based care programmes without the food that they need to survive and left their families – as well as many households caring for orphans – with no way of providing enough food for themselves.
WFP would also have been unable to resume its critical school feeding operation when the new term kicks off in September, leaving 126,000 orphans and vulnerable children without access to sufficient food and with no extra incentive to turn up for class.
The agency noted, however, that it still needs another $10 million for its operations to continue until the end of 2007.
“The Zambian Government has always valued WFP’s work and this donation will help to keep our food aid flowing for a couple more months,” said Mr. Stevenson. “Together with the Zambian Government, we urge other donors to come forward urgently so WFP is not forced to make huge cuts later in the year.”