Ethiopia

WFP Executive Director launches renewed partnership with African Union to fight hunger

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Addis Ababa, 24 April 2007 - The African Union and WFP today renewed their strategic partnership to fight hunger and enhance food security, education and emergency response across the continent of Africa.

African Union Commissioner Rosebud Kurwijila and WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran signed an agreement for humanitarian and development cooperation, with Sheeran expressing the hope that it would serve as "the wind beneath our wings" in their shared commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goal of cutting global hunger by half by 2015.

"The African Union is an important ally in our fight to ensure food security in Africa," said Sheeran during a two-day visit to Ethiopia, her first overseas mission as chief of WFP.

"We will work together not only to meet the needs of the hungry but also to address the root causes of poverty and hunger."

Many fronts

More than 50 percent of WFP's operations are in Africa, Sheeran noted, adding that the world's largest food assistance organisation is working on many fronts on the continent, endeavouring to save lives, improve nutrition, build human development and help children go to school.

"The African Union Commission is one of WFP's most valuable partners," Sheeran emphasized. "I believe that this cooperation agreement will help us together find innovative and forward-looking ways to overcome chronic food deficits and the social problems they produce."

Roundtable discussions

Sheeran on Monday met leading business figures in Ethiopia's grain markets, along with economists, researchers and members of the donor community, in two roundtable discussions exploring ways the agency can use its procurement strength to help African farmers successfully connect to markets.

She noted that WFP has a "huge market presence" with its cash-based purchases in Africa, today buying 20 times more in Ethiopia, for example, than it did in 1990.

Long-term solutions

Sheeran also held talks on Monday with Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Legesse, with whom she discussed the importance of tackling the root causes of poverty and hunger in order to find long-term solutions to food insecurity. Sheeran on Tuesday met Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

On Wednesday, Sheeran travels to Sudan, where WFP currently has its biggest operation. Her three-country tour in Africa concludes on Saturday in Chad.

Contact us

Paulette Jones
WFP/Ethiopia
Tel. +25111551 5188
Ext. 2276
Mob. +251911 201976
paulette.jones@wfp.org

Barry Came
WFP/Rome
Tel. +39-06-6513-2411
Cell +39-3382225382
barry.came@wfp.org

Gregory Barrow
WFP/London
Tel. +44-20-72409001
Cell. +44-7968-008474
gregory.barrow@wfp.org

Christiane Berthiaume
WFP/Geneva
Tel. +41-22-9178564
Cell. +41-792857304
christiane.berthiaume@wfp.org

Cécile Sportis
WFP/Paris
Tel. +33-1-70385330
Cell. +33-6161-68266
cecile.sportis@wfp.org

Jennifer Parmelee
WFP/Washington
Tel. +1-202-6530010
Ext. 1149
Mob. +1-202-4223383
jennifer.parmelee@wfp.org

Bettina Luescher
WFP/New York
Tel. +1-212-9635196
Cell. +1-646-8241112
luescher@un.org