Zimbabwe + 2 more

EC donates 30 million euros to hungry in three Southern African countries

JOHANNESBURG - The United Nations World Food Programme today welcomed a donation of 30 million euros (US$37.7 million) from the European Commission for its food assistance projects in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia. The donation forms part of the EC's 105 million euro donation to WFP for its operations worldwide in 2006.
"The EC has long been a pillar of support to WFP and this generous contribution is well timed for the people of the region who need help most," said Thomas Yanga, acting Regional Director for WFP in southern Africa. "For example, Zimbabwe's high inflation rate makes it increasingly difficult for the poorest to buy any food at all, even when it is available on the market. Many people have already sold everything they have."

The EC donation was earmarked for three specific operations. Twenty-five million euro (US $31.4 million) has gone towards maintaining urgent food assistance over the next quarter to 800,000 of the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe, including children threatened with malnourishment and patients receiving anti-retroviral therapy. Three million euro (US $3.8 million) has been allocated to the purchase of cereals and protein-rich pulses for distribution in Malawi, where pronounced protein deficiency is a common problem among children. Two million euro (US $2.5 million) has been earmarked to help finance nutritional support projects for the chronically ill and educational support activities for vulnerable children and their families in Zambia.

Preliminary crop reports released last month indicate that the region as a whole has had a better 2005/06 harvest season than in the previous four years of erratic rainfall. However, Thomas Yanga pointed out that even in countries like Zambia, which reported relatively good crop production, people would go hungry this year without food assistance. Many were not able to grow their own food, primarily because of HIV/AIDS and chronic poverty. For the same reasons, these people had no assets left to buy any available food. He added that additional donations were urgently needed to meet the current needs.

"Patients being treated for HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis cannot farm or hold down a job when they are at their weakest," Yanga said. "Similarly, children who are orphaned or caring for sick parents need help to put food on the table. And mothers with young children need assistance to maintain healthy diets during their most critical development stage."

Southern Africa remains in a chronic emergency caused by a deadly combination of HIV/AIDS, food insecurity and a weakened capacity for governance - the so-called triple threat. Southern African countries have nine of the 10 highest adult HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world: the average adult prevalence rate in the nine countries is 22.2 percent. The region is home to one-third of the global total of people living with HIV/AIDS, 43 percent of all children under 15 years living with HIV, and 52 percent of all women over 15 years living with the virus. Of the 12 million AIDS orphans living in sub-Saharan Africa, almost half live in southern Africa.

WFP urgently needs some US$32 million to provide food assistance to roughly three million people in southern Africa through to December 2006. By then, the number of families needing help could increase dramatically at the start of the 'lean season,' when they have exhausted their food stock and await harvesting of the main crop in April/May 2007.

Major donors to WFP projects in southern Africa since January 2005 include: the United States (US$149 million); the EU (US$82 million); the United Kingdom (US$27 million); Malawi (US$20 million); Netherlands (US$19 million); Japan (US$17 million); Canada (US $17 million); Algeria (US$8 million); Australia (US$8 million); Sweden (US$6 million); South Africa (US$5 million); and other contributors (US$59 million).

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Michael Huggins, WFP/Southern Africa, Tel. +27 (0) 11 517 1662, Mob. +27 (0) 832-913750
Patricia Lucas, WFP/Southern Africa, Tel. +27 (0) 11 517 1536, Mob. +27 (0) 834-611794
Peter Smerdon, WFP/Nairobi, Tel. +254 20 7622 179, Mob. +254 733 528 911
Brenda Barton, Deputy Director Communications, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39-06-65132602, Mob. +39-3472582217
Christiane Berthiaume, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Mob. +41-792857304
Trevor Rowe, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-212-9635196, Mob. +1-6468241112, rowe@un.org

WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year, we give food to an average of 90 million poor people to meet their nutritional needs, including 58 million hungry children, in at least 80 of the world's poorest countries. WFP -- We Feed People.

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