Filling the need: Global Food Response Program

from World Bank
Published on 30 Mar 2009
WASHINGTON DC, March 30, 2009-When food becomes more expensive, the poor eat less or not at all. The World Bank and its partners have moved swiftly over the last year, disbursing money from the $1.2 billion global food fund faster than even before, to help the poor cope with high and volatile food prices. The funds from the Global Food Response Program (GFRP) have been used to support cash-for-work programs, buy seeds and fertilizer, and provide meals in schools and vitamins for pregnant women and small children, among other endeavors.

What the World Bank is Doing

The World Bank Group created a new $1.2 billion rapid financing facility-the Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP)-in May 2008 to speed assistance to the neediest countries. GFRP has disbursed $734.4 million out of $916 million in 31 countries as of April 9, 2009. An additional $258 million is being earmarked for programs in nine countries.

GFRP is disbursing funds to Afghanistan ($8 million), Bangladesh ($130 million), Benin ($9 million), Burundi ($10 million), Central African Republic ($7 million), Djibouti ($5 million), Ethiopia ($275 million), Guinea ($10 million), Guinea-Bissau ($5 million), Haiti ($10 million), Honduras ($10 million), Kenya ($50 million), Kyrgyz ($10 million), Laos ($3 million), Liberia ($10 million), Madagascar ($10 million, $12 million), Mali ($5 million), Moldova ($7 million), Mozambique ($20 million), Nicaragua ($7 million), Nepal ($36 million), Niger ($7 million), Philippines ($200 million), Rwanda ($10 million), Sierra Leone ($7 million), Somalia ($7 million), Southern Sudan ($5 million), Tajikistan ($9 million), Togo ($7 million), Yemen ($10 million), and West Bank and Gaza ($5 million). The money is used to feed poor children and other vulnerable groups, provide for nutritional supplements to pregnant women, lactating mothers, infants and small children, to meet additional expenses of food imports or to buy seeds for the new season.

- GFRP is part of the World Bank Group's New Deal on Global Food Policy has been endorsed by 150 countries. The New Deal embraces short, medium and long-term responses, including safety nets such as school feeding, food for work, and conditional cash transfers; increased agricultural production; a better understanding of the impact of biofuels; and action on the trade front to reduce distorting subsidies and trade barriers.

- The Bank also created a new Multi-Donor Trust Fund to facilitate the involvement of partners to support the GFRP. External trust funds awarded so far to GFRP, including firm declarations of intention, amount to roughly $230 million.

- The Bank received AU$50 million from Australia in late fall 2008 for projects in Cambodia, Pacific Islands, Senegal, the Solomon Islands, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

- The new European Food Facility of the EC has indicated the intention to provide around Euros 75 million in January 2009 for safety nets and agricultural inputs projects in Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Mali and Honduras. It also declared intention of providing further funding in April 2009 for another six countries. The Russian Federation has also allocated $15 million for work in two Central Asian countries.

- Approving $90 million in IDA funding for food projects in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Malawi, Burundi and Togo and Madagascar beyond GRFP funds.

- Boosting overall agricultural lending to $6 billion over the next year.

- Launching risk management tools, such as weather derivatives, and crop insurance to protect poor countries and small-holders. Malawi is one of the first countries to use the Bank's new weather derivative financial product. Index-based weather derivatives help risks to the financial markets. Payments are triggered by adverse weather events according to pre-specified conditions.

- Nearly doubling agricultural lending to Africa from $450 million to $800 million; and to Latin America from $250 million to $400 million.

- Supporting over $1 billion in new projects in agriculture and rural development in South Asia.

- Investing more than $1.3 billion in FY08 in agribusiness supply chains through the IFC.

- Doubling lending for social protection, nutrition and food security, and social risk mitigation to $800 million over the next year.

- Urging major grain-producing countries to lift or refrain from bans on food exports.

- Working with other donors and agencies on the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development Program for agriculture development in sub-Saharan Africa.

- Engaging in policy dialogue with more than 40 countries to help them address the crisis.

- Conducting rapid needs assessments for countries impacted by the crisis, including Burkina Faso, Burundi, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Togo.