The UN system reponse to the world food security crisis (as of 31 July 2008)

The UN system has rapidly taken note of the seriousness of the challenges to world food security by the recent dramatic escalation of the food price crisis worldwide and recognized the need for Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA) to address the crisis and its root causes.

The UN System has mobilized to provide a common response to the crisis that takes into account the comparative advantages of all stakeholders. To this end, and in implementation of the decision of the United Nations System Chief Executive Board at its meeting held in Bern, Switzerland, on 28 and 29 April 2008, the United Nations SecretaryGeneral established a High Level Task Force (HLTF) on the Global Food Security Crisis under his chairmanship, with FAO DirectorGeneral Jacques Diouf as Vice Chairman, and bringing together the Heads of the United Nations specialized agencies, Funds and Programmes, Bretton Woods institutions and relevant parts of the UN Secretariat, in order to create a prioritized plan of action and coordinate its implementation. The CFA identifies both immediate and longerterm actions that need to begin now and operate in parallel to address the food crisis, to urgently meet immediate needs of vulnerable populations and to urgently build longerterm resilience and contribute to global food and nutrition security. The immediate actions set out how to help vulnerable people now, as both consumers and producers of food; while the longerterm actions are focused on addressing underlying, structural issues to help build resilience and contribute to sustainable improvements in global food security and poverty reduction within the context of the Millennium Development Goals.

While the UN system continues its efforts to galvanize the international community around a set of priority areas to address the food price challenge, work is already underway by UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the most severely impacted countries:

World Food Programme (WFP)

The Executive Board of WFP approved in June 2008 a new fouryear strategic plan that will be critical to addressing soaring hunger needs due to the global food crisis. The strategic plan emphasizes lifesaving emergency aid, such as the 3 million vulnerable served in Darfur with emergency food aid. But it also emphasizes prevention, local purchase of food, and using targeted cash and voucher programs when food is available locally but not accessible by the hungry.

The tools laid out in the plan include early warning systems and vulnerability analysis, as well as preparedness and disaster reduction/mitigation, while ensuring fast and effective emergency response in lifesaving situations. Identifying the hungry poor, and the best set of interventions to assist them, is key as is helping communities understand and anticipate shocks, including those related to high food prices.

Tools to break the intergenerational cycle of chronic hunger - the inheritance of hunger from mother to child - are also a critical part of the plan. School meals and support to motherandchild health and nutrition (MCHN) programs will help address poor levels of education and health that hamper the physical and intellectual growth of individuals, and constrain the economic and social development of nations. Since its inception in 1962, WFP has been committed to promoting food and nutrition security.

WFP is also using its purchasing power to create a positive spillover effect to bolster economic and market development, and to strengthen smallholder farming, local transport and communication networks. Last year, WFP used its cash resources to purchase US$612 million of food in 69 developing countries.

WFP's special appeal for US$755 million in additional funding to cover the high costs of food and fuel was met in the third week of May 08. WFP continues to raise funds needed for its overall budget of US$6

billion (of which US$2.9 billion has been received). WFP is also exploring the means to raise funds to address the needs arising from the 'new face of hunger' ­ millions of people pushed into poverty and hunger as a result of high food and fuel price.

Sixtytwo countries wracked by high food prices have been allocated $1.2 billion in funds to alleviate growing hunger. The lifeline extends to communities hit by weather disasters and to poor school children - the first to feel the brutal shocks of hunger.

 WFP response includes:

- Haiti: A country where civil unrest has raged is being fasttracked by WFP which is tripling the number of people receiving food, especially school children and 100,000 women head of households who cannot afford to buy enough food for their families, while also supporting food for work in urban areas.

- Liberia: WFP has extended school feeding for 200,000 primary aged children during the summer months and, along with the World Bank, is exploring the use of cash and food for job programmes targeting urban areas.

- Afghanistan: Amid widespread conflict and insecurity, alongside severe destitution, WFP is providing food assistance to an additional 2.5 million additional people - almost half are urban dwellers priced out of the wheat market.

- Kenya: After post election violence tore whole communities apart, WFP is maintaining commitments to support people who, in addition to high food prices, are affected by drought and unrest linked to food price protests. School feeding programmes that had been cut have been restored. A new operation will help displaced persons plus an increasing number of vulnerable people in arid regions.

- Somalia: WFP is doubling its assistance to reach more than 2.5 million people who face deepening drought in tandem with hyperinflation and continued conflict on a scale similar to the crisis years of 19921993. This year high food prices is compounding the problem.

- Cambodia: School feeding will be restarted in Cambodia, providing meals to 450,000 children who were cut off in May because of high food prices.

- Ethiopia: High prices and drought are sweeping through the Horn of Africa, posing a severe threat to millions of pastoralists. Urgent food distributions across the country will help stem the growing crisis.

- Burkina Faso: WFP is reaching 63,000 additional mothers and children with critical food assistance.

- Mozambique: WFP is targeting $7 million for social safety nets for school children, mothers, infants and toddlers, and HIV/AIDS patients.

- Yemen: An additional 300,000 school children are being reached with the help of the World Bank.

- Senegal: WFP is providing meals in school for 284,000 children during the lean season.

- Guinea: WFP is providing monthly food ration to 70,765 people who have been highly affected by high food prices in Upper and Middle Guinea and Forest Guinea during the lean season which runs from July through September.

- Mauritania: High food prices have exacerbated food shortages in the country leading WFP to double the number of people reached through general food distributions, food for work and the reinforcement  of village food reserves. Nearly 400,000 people are benefiting from this support while WFP and government consider additional cash and nutrition initiatives.

- Burundi: WFP will expand food distributions and extend school feeding programmes into urban areas; will establish foodforwork projects to improve livelihoods of former refugees.

- Central African Republic: A food safety net is being rolled out for 294,000 people (including conflict victims) made more vulnerable due to the high prices during the lean season.

- Sierra Leone: More than 200,000 children are being supported with a hot school meal plus another 200,000 people - including urban youth ­ receive food.

- WFP, in cooperation with the World Bank, FAO, OCHA, UNICEF and, governments, is undertaking a detailed analysis to ensure that the most immediate needs are met in the nations and communities that need it most, with additional money from WFP's appeal.

- Based on analysis, consultations are underway with government and partners in country regarding additional priority projects targeting populations highly affected by high food prices in the above countries as well as in Benin, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Pakistan and Tajikistan.