Lesotho + 5 more

Key meeting on Southern Africa crisis starts tomorrow

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News and Press Release
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Posted
Originally published
JOHANNESBURG - Nearly 100 high-level officials from a wide representation of aid agencies, donors, governments and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), gather tomorrow in Johannesburg for two days of intensive discussions on the massive food crisis unfolding in southern Africa.
The meeting comes on the heels of fresh warnings by experts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) more than 10 million people in six Southern African countries are threatened with starvation over the next year.

The discussions on June 6-7 will center on reviewing the results of the recent FAO/WFP Food and Crop Supply Assessments, as well as other aid agency mission findings. The implications of the crisis over the next 12 months will be discussed in detail, as will the humanitarian response needed and resources required to address food and non-food needs.

Lastly, and very importantly, a coherent approach to the crisis will be determined by bringing together all the key stakeholders at this critical moment in the humanitarian response.

Tomorrow's meeting is a special session called by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), a body of United Nations and non-governmental organizations which regularly meet on humanitarian issues. It will be co-chaired by Jean-Jacques Graisse, WFP Deputy Executive Director and Ross Mountain, Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Also to be discussed at the meeting will be the logistical challenges of delivering massive amounts of food aid and other commodities to the countries in the region, many of which are land-locked. The devastating impact of food shortages on HIV/AIDS affected people will be another important topic. HIV/AIDS rates in southern Africa are the worst in the world.

In March, the IASC requested WFP's Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Judith Lewis, to coordinate a series of multi-sectoral assessments in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland in order to gain a deeper understanding of the worsening humanitarian situation and the food crisis in particular.

Note to Media

  • The meeting will be held at the Crowne Plaza, Sandton, Rivonia Conference Rooms B and C. Hotel Tel: 27 11 783 5262.

  • From 8:30 - 9:00 am on June 6th, there will be an opportunity to interview Mr. Mountain (OCHA) and Mr. Graisse (WFP) co-chairs outside of the conference room at the Crowne Plaza. There is also an opportunity for the media to film or cover the opening remarks of the meeting, from 9:00 - 9:30 am on June 6th.

  • Copies of fresh (unreleased) video B-roll from WFP, taken in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland, will be made available to the electronic media at conference opening 8:30 to 9:30 am. Digital photos are available upon request or through the main wire agencies.
For more information contact:

Brenda Barton, WFP Public Information Officer, Eastern and Southern Africa (currently in Johannesburg), Tel. +254-733-528912, Tel. +27-11-517 1656/517 1634 Johannesburg.Guest5@wfp.org; Brenda.Barton@wfp.org