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  UN News // FOOD AND HUNGER
   
 
   
 

28 July, 2008

ATTACK ON UN FOOD CONVOY A BLOW FOR STRUGGLING AFGHANS

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has condemned the latest attack on a World Food Programme (WFP) convoy that was transporting vital aid for the country’s most vulnerable, who are suffering amid drought and rising food prices.

A convoy of 49 trucks that were transporting WFP food aid from Kandahar to Herat was attacked last Thursday by unidentified gunmen in the western province of Farah. Two trucks were torched, and eight trucks were stolen and have not been recovered so far.

More than 320 metric tons of food, enough for around 38,400 Afghans for one month, was looted in the attack.

“Such attacks dishonour the Afghan people and the generosity of the international community. They are unacceptable and must stop,” Aleem Siddique, spokesperson for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told reporters in Kabul.

“At this time of severe drought and rising food prices it is even more reprehensible that a humanitarian convoy would be attacked in this way,” he added.

Earlier this month, the UN and the Afghan Government appealed for just over $400 million to feed 4.5 million people who are struggling as a result of rising food prices, poor harvests and drought.

Some 450,000 urban and rural households have been hit hard by the surge in the prices of staples such as wheat, which have increased by 50 to 100 per cent in some parts of the country.

There were 12 armed attacks against vehicles carrying WFP food between January and June this year, resulting in the loss of some 466 tons of food, valued at over $300,000.

Last year saw more than 30 attacks against commercial vehicles or convoys carrying WFP food. In total, 870 tons of food, valued at $730,000, was lost.

Despite the most recent attack, WFP says it will continue food dispatches from southern Kandahar province to Herat in the west.

   
 

25 July, 2008

UNICEF SAYS 180,000 CHILDREN IN SOMALIA ARE MALNOURISHED

Nearly 180,000 children in Somalia are acutely malnourished, with 25,000 severely malnourished, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF) which has scaled up its nutrition operation to reach more than 50,000 children under the age of five.

A new survey carried out by the Food Security Analysis Unit in Somalia has found that there has been an 11 per cent increase in malnutrition in the last six months.

“So far we have been lucky to be strongly backed by our donors. However, with the recent increase in malnutrition rates and the need for accelerated humanitarian assistance, more funds are required for us to continue and expand our programmes effectively,” said Christian Balslev-Olesen, UNICEF Representative to Somalia.

UNICEF and its partners have just completed a second round of its blanket feeding programme, which involves the distribution of UNIMIX-food supplement, rich with vitamins and minerals, to 54,000 under-five children in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia’s Afgoye Corridor and the capital, Mogadishu..

The IDP concentration areas are among the most at risk of malnutrition, according to UNICEF. The prolonged conflict and civil insecurity in Mogadishu and its surrounding areas have led to an influx of displaced people into temporary settlements across the country.

Afgoye hosts one of the biggest IDP settlements with a displaced population exceeding 300,000 people. Analyses indicate that the nutrition situation in Afgoye is critical, further complicated by the limited access because of the security situation.

Northern parts of Somalia are also hit hard by the deteriorating nutrition conditions, worsened by skyrocketing food prices and the devaluation of the Somali shilling. The urban poor and displaced are the most vulnerable populations, with thousands of families from the conflict-affected south forced to seek temporary refuge in the northern parts of the country.

In Bossaso IDP camps, where about 28,000 people are located, global acute malnutrition rates have been recorded at 23.3 per cent, well above the rate of 15 per cent which is considered to constitute an emergency. Glakayo and Garowe IDP camps have also recorded very critical global acute malnutrition rates.

Starting in August and throughout the remainder of the year, UNICEF and partners will provide rations of 10 kilos of UNIMIX a month per child to approximately 7,500 under-five children in Bossaso IDP camps, as well as to children in Garowe and Galkayo camps, combined with a therapeutic feeding programme for severely malnourished children.

   
 

24 July, 2008

POOR FARMERS IN GUYANA HELPED TO PLANT NEW CROPS BY UN AGENCY

A new United Nations-backed project will help more than 5,000 small farmers in Guyana diversify into new crops to help them compete in international markets.

The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is providing nearly $7 million for the project in the South American country.

“As Guyana’s ability to compete in the international markets with its traditional national crops has declined, like sugar and rice, the project will help small farmers find alternative sources of income in non-traditional agricultural products such as root crops, vegetables, tropical fruits and spices, and livestock products,” IFAD said in a statement.

Some 5,200 poor rural households in six regions of the country will benefit from better access to financial and other capital services, as well as training in enterprise development, marketing, organizational and social development.

This is the third rural development and poverty eradication project that IFAD has funded in Guyana, for a total commitment of $22.2 million.

   
 

23 July, 2008

AMID GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS, UN HELPS BOOST FARM PRODUCTION IN SWAZILAND

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is helping poor farmers to boost their agricultural production in Swaziland, one of many countries suffering as a result of the global food crisis.

Further exacerbating the current situation in Swaziland is last year’s drought, the worst the Southern African nation has faced in 15 years, ruining harvests and inputs for this year’s crop.

To assist farmers, FAO and the Government have established Input Trade Fairs to supply much-needed supplies.

These fairs – funded by the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) – give planters cash vouchers to allow them to select the seeds, fertilizers, tools and other items they need. The events also are an opportunity for local seed producers and local agricultural retail businesses to sell their wares.

More than two dozen of these fairs were held in Swaziland’s centre and east late last year, shortly before the start of the planting seasons, reaching some 20,000 families.

Reflecting on the impact of the initiative, John Weatherson, FAO Emergency Coordinator for the country, said that “the inputs where there at the right time, there was no cost to the farmers, so they felt really on the crest of a wave.”

He stressed the importance of hold more of these trade fairs in a bid to address soaring food prices in line with the FAO’s Initiative on Soaring Food Prices (ISFP), which offers technical and policy assistance to help vulnerable farmers increase local food production.

   
 

12 June, 2008

LEBANESE FARMERS RECEIVE GOATS AND COWS AS PART OF UN ASSISTANCE PROJECT

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has handed out the first batch of 1,600 goats and 200 cows to farmers in southern Lebanon as part as its programme to assist them recover from livestock losses accrued during the war in mid-2006.

About 450 families living in 40 villages south of the Litani river are expected to eventually benefit from the $1.9 million programme, FAO announced today, adding that it will also include animal feed and training.

The batch of goats and cows will allow farmers to resume their production activities, including milk production and processing into local yoghurt and cheese.

An assessment by FAO found that southern Lebanese farmers lost more than 20,000 goats and 1,600 high-yielding milking cows as a result of the war between the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah in 2006.

Nacif Rihani, an animal production expert with FAO, said animals and feed meeting international standards of productivity and health were found for the programme, despite rapidly rising market prices.

Aside from the livestock programme, the agency is also helping more than 600 horticulture farmers by distributing high-quality vegetable seeds and fertilizer and establishing greenhouses with improved design to maximize crop production.

   
 

22 April, 2008

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS ‘SILENT TSUNAMI’ THREATENING OVER 100 MILLION PEOPLE, WARNS UN

The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today called for urgent action to tackle the “silent tsunami” of rising food prices which threatens to push more than 100 million people worldwide into hunger.

“This is the new face of hunger – the millions of people who were not in the urgent hunger category six months ago but now are,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, after addressing a British parliamentary hearing in London.

She said that like the 2004 tsunami, which hit the Indian Ocean leaving quarter of a million dead and about 10 million more destitute, the food price crisis – the biggest challenge WFP has faced in its 45-year history – requires a global response.

“The response calls for large-scale, high-level action by the global community, focused on emergency and longer-term solutions,” she added.

Recalling the record $12 billion provided by the donor community for the tsunami recovery effort, Ms. Sheeran said “we need that same kind of action and generosity.”

Stressing the role of partnerships in fighting the food “emergency,” she said WFP has been working with donor governments, other UN agencies, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and other humanitarian actors, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure a coordinated response.

The impact of the crisis is already being felt in different parts of the world. Unless new funding can be found on time, WFP will have to suspend school feeding to 450,000 children beginning in May in Cambodia.

In addition, protests and riots have broken out in some countries over the rising cost of many basic foods, such as rice, wheat and corn.

Addressing a gathering of trade and development officials in Ghana over the weekend, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged immediate steps to guarantee the world’s food security, starting with ensuring that WFP has the additional $755 million it needs to cover the rising costs of its existing emergency operations.

In a related development, World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick has welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s intention to put the food crisis on the agenda of the Group of Eight summit, to be held in Japan in July.

   
 

23 January, 2008

PURCHASING FOOD FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES A ‘WIN-WIN’ SITUATION – UN

The United Nations World Food Programme is purchasing most of its food from developing countries in a ‘win-win’ situation for both parties, according to the chief of the agency, which last year paid cash to poorer nations for a record 80 per cent of its food.

The world’s largest humanitarian organization, WFP bought 2.1 million metric tons valued at over $760 million from 69 developing countries in 2007, with Uganda as the largest supplier.

The agency has a policy of buying food locally when and where there is an abundance, but it avoids these markets at times of scarcity in order to avoid distorting prices.

“Local purchases create win-win situations to hunger,” said Josette Sheeran, WFP’s Executive Director. “In an era of soaring food prices – which hit hardest those already hungry – such solutions are more critical than ever.”

To offset a surge in prices, the agency buys food in local markets in developing countries where prices can be lower and which are located close to where WFP distributes supplies.

Rising fuel and commodity costs have impacted WFP’s ability to supply food to the hungry, but transport costs are minimized through the agency’s delivery of food purchased in developing countries either locally or regionally.

“Buying ‘local’ helps provide more income for small-scale farmers, while saving money for WFP,” said Ms. Sheeran, who is currently in Davos, Switzerland, to speak about local food procurement and other issues at the World Economic Forum to be held later this week.

- - - - -

NEW UN INITIATIVE AIMS TO BOOST FOOD SECURITY IN WEST AFRICA

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched projects in five West African countries, considered to be among the world’s poorest, to help increase agricultural output and create new markets for products.

Launched as part of the FAO Trust Fund for Food Security, the projects are taking place in Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone, thanks to a $10 million contribution from the Italian Government.

All five countries suffer from “alarming” levels of poverty and malnutrition, FAO noted in a news release, adding that that in some cases, up to 70 per cent of the population is living below the poverty line.

The projects focus on agriculture as a primary vehicle for reducing poverty and increasing food security, while recognizing the need for a dual approach – boosting output and improving market access for products.

Key elements of the projects include promoting crop diversification to avoid over-reliance on a single commodity, as well as teaching farmers how to store and conserve products so that they are not forced to sell all their crops straight after harvest.

“In countries where between 40 and 50 per cent of the adult population has never been to school, farmers will learn more efficient agricultural practices, but also how to set up a small enterprise, how to make the most of the few resources they have available and how to produce value-added agricultural products for the market,” said Kevin Gallagher, a senior FAO expert for programme development.

The new initiative in West Africa follows a number of other FAO/Italy projects already under way in Central and East Africa (Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda) and in Southern Africa (Malawi and Zambia).

- - - - -

SURGE OF BANDIT ATTACKS JEOPARDIZES FOOD RATIONS TO DARFUR – UN AGENCY

Food rations to more than 2 million people in Darfur may have to be cut within weeks after a surge of bandit attacks this month against trucks carrying relief supplies to the war-wracked Sudanese region, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

Bandits have stolen 23 WFP-contracted trucks and abducted their drivers since the start of the month, the agency said in a statement issued in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. Nineteen drivers remain missing.

The latest attack occurred late yesterday, in a rural area of North Darfur near the Chadian border. The driver of the empty truck was attacked as he returned to El Fasher, the state capital, after making the day’s deliveries.

Even before the spike in attacks this year, bandits have been targeting trucks carrying aid, with 13 such incidents – including three in which the drivers were killed – between September and December last year.

WFP’s representative in Sudan, Kenro Oshidari, said there were grave concerns about both the impact of the rash of attacks on the civilian population of Darfur, already suffering from years of conflict, and the fate of the missing drivers.

“Our main trucking companies now refuse to send in more vehicles because of this upsurge in banditry and therefore we have no one to deliver about half our monthly food relief requirement,” Mr. Oshidari said.

“If the situation continues, we’ll be forced to cut rations in parts of Darfur by mid-February.”

The contracted trucks normally deliver between 15,000 and 20,000 tons of food aid every month, about half of the total needed to support Darfur’s most vulnerable inhabitants. The monthly food ration includes cereals, high-nutrition corn-soya blend, pulses, vegetable oil, sugar and salt and provides a person with 2,100 kilocalories per day.

Mr. Oshidari urged Sudanese authorities to ensure the safety of the major routes in Darfur, a vast, arid region in the far west of the country.

“Without these deliveries, WFP faces a rapid depletion of stocks and the inability to pre-position food ahead of the rainy season, which is due to start in May.”

In a related development, a UN-Sudanese Government committee agreed today to extend the moratorium on restrictions on humanitarian operations until January 2009.

“The Government gave assurances that the NGO [non-governmental organizations] community would be able to continue their work without interruption and would facilitate resources at state level for the extension of visas,” the High Level Committee of Sudanese Government and UN officials established by the Joint Communiqué on the facilitation of humanitarian activities in Darfur said in a statement.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also welcomed the news, noting that the NGOs implement numerous UN projects in Darfur, where rebels have clashed with Government forces and allied militia groups since 2003.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others displaced because of the violence, and a joint UN-African Union mission known as UNAMID is being deployed to quell the fighting and instability.

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who is currently visiting Sudan, today met with UNAMID staff in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state. He also conferred with the state’s deputy governor and with representatives of civil society.

Yesterday Mr. Guéhenno was in El Fasher for a meeting with the deputy governor of North Darfur. He also visited the nearby Zam Zam camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

   
 

7 November, 2007

GLOBAL CEREAL PRICES WILL REMAIN HIGH, UN AGRICULTURAL AGENCY FORECASTS

World cereal prices are expected to stay high during the next year because of low global stocks, production problems and continued strong demand, according to the latest forecast of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), released today.

The Food Outlook report warned that these high cereal prices are driving domestic food inflation across much of the world, sparking price increases for such retail staples as bread, pasta, milk and meat.

The analysis found there was “such a widespread and commonly shared concern about food price inflation, a fear which is fuelling debates about the future direction of agricultural commodity prices in importing as well as exporting countries, be they rich or poor.”

It also noted that record freight rates – driven up in part by soaring petrol prices – and high export prices mean many countries will pay more for importing cereals than they did in previous years, even though they are importing less.

For most cereals, “supplies are much tighter than in recent years, while demand is rising for food as well as feed and industrial use. Stocks, which were already low at the start of the season, are likely to remain equally low because global cereal production may only be sufficient to meet expected world utilization,” the agency said.

But the report added that at least one cereal crop, wheat, may experience a price fall next year thanks to indications that some countries are considering planting more wheat for harvesting next year, thus increasing the supply on the international market.

The price of maize, which reached a 10-year high in February, is also starting to come down in response to this year’s record crop reaching the market.

By contrast, the price of barley is soaring, due to a combination of supply problems in Australia and Ukraine and the tighter availability of other feed grains.

The greatest jump, however, is in the price of dairy products, which are rising by between 80 per cent to more than 200 per cent.

   
 

8 October, 2007

VIRUSES FROM TROPICAL COUNTRIES ARE MOVING TO TEMPERATE ZONES, UN AGENCY WARNS

Animal diseases are advancing globally and countries will have to invest more in surveillance and control measures, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today, citing West Nile Virus, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever and other plagues that have crossed from tropical to temperate zones.

“No country can claim to be a safe haven with respect to animal diseases,” warned FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Joseph Domenech in a news release.

“Transboundary animal diseases that were originally confined to tropical countries are on the rise around the globe. They do not spare temperate zones including Europe, the United States and Australia,” he added.

Globalization, the movement of people and goods, tourism, urbanization and probably also climate change are favouring the spread of animal viruses around the planet, FAO noted.

“The increased mobility of viruses and their carriers is a new threat that countries and the international community should take seriously. Early detection of viruses together with surveillance and control measures are needed as effective defence measures,” Mr. Domenech said, calling for strong political support and funding for animal health and more adequate veterinary services.

The agency raised concern about the spread of the non-contagious bluetongue virus, which affects cattle, goats, deer and sheep. First discovered in South Africa, it has spread to many countries for reasons that remain unclear, FAO said.

“We never expected that the bluetongue virus could affect European countries at such high latitudes,” said FAO Animal Health Officer Stephane de la Rocque. “The virus is already endemic in Corsica and Sardinia but could also persist in northern European countries.”

Other examples of human and animal disease agents that were previously mainly found in tropical regions and that have spread internationally include: West Nile Virus, transmitted by mosquitos, carried by birds and sometimes affecting also humans; Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease that spreads through the bite of infected sand flies; and tick-borne Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever, FAO said.

African swine fever has recently reached Georgia and Armenia and poses a threat to neighbouring countries, it noted.

Mosquitos that can transmit major human diseases such as yellow fever, dengue and chickunguya have already reached European countries and may constitute a major public health concern.

   
 

24 September, 2007

LOCAL FOOD PURCHASE BY UN AGENCY PROVIDES BOOST TO LESOTHO’S FARMERS

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported today that its purchase of maize directly from small farmers in Lesotho, who used conservation to produce a surplus amid the country’s worst drought in 30 years, is having a beneficial effect on local communities.

By buying the maize directly from a group of small-scale local farmers rather than in neighbouring South Africa, WFP saves $45 per ton and helps stimulate the local agricultural economy.

“This is a win-win situation,” WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said. “It helps provide income for small-scale farmers while saving money for WFP.”

In the first ever direct purchase in Lesotho, WFP paid 20 farmers from the isolated and impoverished district of Qacha’s Nek around $2,800 for eight metric tons of their maize – a considerable sum in a country where more than a third of the population lives on less than $1 a day.

“WFP is committed to buying locally whenever possible because – as this historic deal proves – even a small purchase can have a huge impact on the lives of small-scale farmers,” Ms. Sheeran said.

The maize will help feed thousands of children attending primary school in Qacha’s Nek.

On 9 July, Lesotho’s Government declared a state of emergency following an unprecedented period of hot, dry weather between January and March, which devastated the maize crop across the country.

Despite the drought, the 20 farmers in Qacha’s Nek were able to produce a surplus of maize by following conservation farming methods picked up through a WFP-assisted food-for-training programme.

Some 400,000 people in Lesotho need immediate humanitarian aid – a figure that could rise to 550,000 during the first three months of 2008.

WFP plans to distribute food to about 260,000 people in Lesotho from now until the next maize harvest next April. The Government and other humanitarian organizations are aiming to reach the others in need.

So far this year, WFP has bought 7,000 tons of food in Lesotho at a cost of $2.3 million.

   
 

17 August, 2007

UN AGENCY LAUNCHES NEW FOOD PROGRAMME FOR STRIFE-TORN YEMENI PROVINCE

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a new $1.3 million three-month operation to aid 36,000 people displaced by fighting in north-west Yemen, cautioning that the number of those assisted could rise once security constraints are lifted and the area is fully accessible.

“Our assessment of the humanitarian situation indicated that food assistance must continue,” WFP country representative Mohamed El Kouhene said after approval of the new programme yesterday for the Sa’ada Governorate.

“However, it is hoped that during this period, a durable ceasefire agreement and a political solution to the crisis will be reached and maintained. This would enable the displaced to return to their homes and resume their regular livelihood activities,” he added.

The operation continues a WFP programme which started two months ago when 20,000 displaced people received assistance. The number of persons to receive food during the new operation has increased by 16,000 due to improved security and better access to the needy in more remote areas of the governorate.

The Yemeni Government will continue to support the operation by providing security and logistics assistance to WFP. “WFP’s first rapid response to the emergency needs in Sa’ada has been highly appreciated, and we are thankful that WFP will continue to provide food assistance for another three months due to the continuous need,” Yemeni Planning and International Cooperation Minister Abdulkarim Al-Ar’habi said.

Besides this three-month operation, WFP has a new $48-million, five-year country programme (2007-2011) for 1 million Yemenis, aimed at expanding girls’ access to education and improving the health and nutritional status of malnourished children under five, pregnant and lactating women and tuberculosis and leprosy patients. To date, the programme has received nearly $5.7 million in donations.

WFP also supplies food to over 33,000 Somali refugees in transit centres and in the Kharaz Refugee camp located in Lahj Governorate.

- - - - -

FOOD SITUATION IN SOUTH ASIA FOLLOWING FLOODS ‘SERIOUS CAUSE OF CONCERN,’ UN REPORTS

The food situation in South Asia, where torrential rains resulted in deadly flash floods and landslides that affected more than 28 million people, gives “serious cause for concern” because of the loss of animals and unfavorable crop prospects following damage to recently planted crops, according to the latest United Nations update.

“Opportunities for replanting once the water has fully receded are limited as the sowing period of the main cereal season normally ends in July in India and Bangladesh and by mid-August in Nepal,” the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a news release.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed deep concern about the continuing threat from hunger, disease and malnutrition for the millions of children and women affected by the flooding which has killed almost 2,800 people in the three countries and Pakistan.

In Nepal, the affected agro-ecological zone of Terai (plains) is the country’s grain basket, accounting for over 70 per cent of the total production of rice, the basic staple. Though water levels have receded from the second week of August, thousands of hectares of agricultural land have been destroyed at the peak of the planting season, FAO said.

While a detailed assessment of crop losses is not yet available, the overall outlook for this year’s production has deteriorated. At sub-national level, food shortages in the Terai, affected by drought and floods in 2006, are likely to worsen.

In Bangladesh, preliminary official estimates indicate that some 854,000 hectares of rice paddies have been lost to floods and another 582,000 hectares partially damaged. In aggregate, the area affected represents some 13 per cent of the total planted area, seriously compromising prospects for this year rice production.

In India, where the three worst flood-affected states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam account for roughly a quarter of the country’s total rice production, preliminary reports indicate that about 1 million hectares of cereal land have been submerged in Bihar alone.

While this year’s cereal production is likely to be reduced in these three north-eastern states, output at national level will depend on weather conditions in the coming months, according to FAO.

UNICEF and its non-governmental organization (NGO) partners, concerned that standing water could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and waterborne diseases, are coordinating the Government’s relief efforts in India by providing support for health, nutrition, water and sanitation. This includes tarpaulins, water purifying agents (tablets, powder and solutions), oral rehydration salts, family hygiene kits and essential medicines.

In Bangladesh and Nepal, UNICEF is providing similar drugs and working on a post-emergency early recovery and reconstruction plan.

   
 

10 April, 2007

UN FOOD AGENCY HEAD TAKES OFFICE, CALLS FOR RENEWED COMMITMENT TO WORLD’S HUNGRY POOR

The new chief of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) officially took up her duties today by calling for a renewed commitment to the almost one billion hungry men, women and children throughout the world and highlighting that every year 4 million more people become malnourished.

Executive Director Josette Sheeran will spend her first month in office focusing on the organization’s most important operations and areas of work, spending half her time at WFP headquarters in Rome and half her time in the field, where her first mission will be to Africa which she will visit at least twice in her first 90 days.

“Despite enormous efforts by WFP and its donors and partners, we are losing ground on hunger with 4 million more people malnourished each year than the year before. Together, we can turn that tide,” she told staff in Rome.

“I feel very fortunate to join WFP, which I learned during my time on the UN’s High-Level Panel is a gem in the UN system. WFP has earned the trust of the world’s most vulnerable and the respect of more than 90 donor nations. All its supporters, public and private, know that over 93 per cent of their donations are used directly to reach the hungry, giving WFP one of the lowest overheads of any aid provider.”

Every year WFP feeds an average of 90 million people, maintaining a logistics operation that encompasses an international team of nearly 12,000 in more than 80 countries.

Ms. Sheeran was selected for the post in November by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director General Jacques Diouf, with the unanimous concurrence of WFP’s 36-member executive board.

She brings to WFP a broad background in the public and private sectors, with more than 20 years management and leadership experience in diplomacy, government, foundations, journalism and business.

Most recently Ms. Sheeran served as Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs at the State Department in the United States and as alternate US delegate to the World Bank and regional development banks, working on economic issues including development, trade, agriculture, finance, energy, telecommunications and transportation.

Last year she was asked by the former Secretary-General to serve on the High-Level Panel looking at UN reforms in the areas of humanitarian assistance, development and the environment. She spent nine months travelling the world conducting hundreds of interviews with UN aid recipients, country teams, private sector donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“I come into this position with four commitments. First: to the more than 850 million men, women and children who know what it is like go to bed hungry, I promise you that you will never be forgotten and I will do everything I can not just to bring you food, but hope for a better future,” said Ms. Sheeran.

The Executive Director listed her other commitments as being to WFP’s supporters and to all the UN, NGO and other bodies that work with the organization. She also promised WFP staff that their efforts will not be taken for granted but that their sacrifices will “always make a difference.”

   
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