Vienna, Austria - The OPEC Fund for International Development has announced the launch of a Food Aid Special Grant Account to support international efforts to combat the growing hunger crisis in parts of the African continent. The US$20 million emergency Account will go toward providing urgently-needed food and other supplies to several, severely hit sub-Saharan countries.
Africa's protracted food security crisis has worsened in recent months, as a combination of erratic weather patterns and prolonged drought wreaks havoc on long-suffering populations, bringing death and destruction to many countries. In southern Africa, food stocks from earlier harvests are now largely depleted, placing more than 14.4 million people at risk. The Horn of Africa is also facing shortages affecting well over 15 million people. Elsewhere, in the western Sahel, more than half a million people are on the brink of starvation.
Although the international donor community is responding generously to United Nations aid appeals, a substantial gap still exists in meeting current needs. Concern is equally growing over the likelihood of even poorer yields in upcoming harvests.
The OPEC Fund grant will provide timely and effective assistance to sub-Saharan countries where the most acute food shortages still exist. Much of the assistance will be channeled through the World Food Program, the UN lead agency coordinating the global response to the crisis.