UN's African aid plan seriously flawed

Report
from Save the Children
Published on 18 Jun 2002
Save the Children UK said today that UN food aid plans to ensure 13 million people in Southern Africa do not go hungry have been compromised by a seriously flawed assumption.
The World Food Program (WFP) of the UN is predicting that nearly two million of the three and a quarter million tonnes of grain required in the region will be commercially imported. In reality, commercial importers have the capacity to import only a fraction of this amount - leaving a massive food shortfall if the UN is not prepared to step up its own aid programme.

Save the Children Zimbabwe Programme Director Chris McIvor said:

"Relying so heavily on commercial grain importers without a back-up plan is a massive gamble with the lives of millions on the edge of starvation. The UN is entitled to hope for the best but it must also prepare for the worst if a tragedy is to be avoided."

The WFP and Save the Children agree that around 13 million people in Southern Africa will need food aid this year and next if a catastrophe on a massive scale is to be averted. Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia are likely to be the worst affected countries, with Zimbabwe accounting for almost half the total needs.

Save the Children is urging the WFP to closely monitor the amount of grain being brought in by commercial importers and to prepare a back-up plan that can be quickly put into action if the expected quantities are not being delivered. In the last year, commercial importers have spectacularly failed to keep up with the rapidly increasing demand for grain in the region.

Governments in Southern Africa must play their part not only by placing grain orders but by ensuring that barriers and disincentives to commercial grain imports are removed.

Other countries affected by serious food shortages following crop damage after flooding, drought or both include Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. Through different circumstances Angola has up to 1.6 million people in need of immediate food aid which is in addition to the needs of the rest of the region.

Media Enquiries:

For more information contact Brendan Paddy - tel. 020 7716 2281 or 07831 650409 (out of hours), or visit www.savethechildren.org.uk .

Notes to Editors:

Save the Children UK is one of the major aid agencies operating in Southern Africa and has already provided food to more than 500,000 people in Malawi and Zimbabwe this year.

Save the Children UK is the country's leading international children's charity working to make a reality of every child's right to a happy, safe and secure childhood. The charity has 80 years experience in working with the poorest children in 70 countries worldwide including the UK.

Beth Jepson
Save the Children UK
Administrator

Press Office

Direct line: 020 7716 2060
Press office: 020 7716 2280
b.jepson@scfuk.org.uk
www.savethechildren.org.uk