With a contribution of a 4 million euros from the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) for Pakistan today, the European Commission (EC) has provided its largest contribution since 1992 – some 214 million euros - to WFP operations around the globe in its effort to save lives and feed the hungry poor.
“2005 has been a year in which the EC’s support to WFP continued to grow and has crystallised into a truly exceptional partnership.
"The EC has always been among WFP’s leading donors. Its support has not only been precious in high profile crises such as the tsunami, Niger or the Pakistan earthquake, but also in 'forgotten emergencies', like Nepal and the Sahrawi refugees in Algeria,” said James Morris, WFP's Executive Director.
The EC has been instrumental in helping WFP to alleviate hunger in more than 28 poor countries across the world where hundreds of thousands of people were threatened by starvation during a year of intense man-made and natural catastrophes.
One of the strengths of the European Commission's aid policy is its focus on 'forgotten crises', those places that do not make the headlines, where people suffer far away from TV cameras, and for which it has proven difficult to obtain contributions from donors.
The EC has always been among WFP’s leading donors. Its support has not only been precious in high-profile crises, but also in 'forgotten emergencies'James Morris, WFP's Executive Director
“We are particularly grateful for the special attention the EU gives to 'forgotten needs', for example in Tanzania or Zambia, where WFP had to cut food rations to refugees until the EU came to the rescue,” said John Aylieff, Director of WFP’s European Commission Relations Division.
“Contributions to address these 'silent crises' are crucial to us as they are much more difficult to fund, as most donors prefer to finance higher profile operations.”
As in previous years, the EU has again been a strong supporter of WFP in Uganda, Southern Sudan and Eritrea, to name only a few of the crises that do not make everyday headlines.
Second largest donor
The European Commission is the second largest donor to WFP, but its contribution goes beyond the signing of a cheque.
“This year’s contribution represents around 8 percent of total donor contributions to WFP for 2005. But the strong support of the EC to WFP goes way beyond funding. It is a partnership which improves the capacities and competencies of both entities – one which improves the effectiveness of aid,” said Aylieff.
This year, the EC joined WFP in planning for local purchases in Ethiopia, in exchanging expertise on food reserve systems, and providing technical inputs on Emergency Needs Assessments.
2005 has been the most challenging year the humanitarian world has faced since World War II, with disasters affecting tens of millions of people across the developing world like the Indian Ocean Tsunami, drought and locusts in Niger, the continuing conflict in Darfur, the hurricanes Katrina and Stan, and finally the devastating earthquake in Pakistan.
There is little reason to think that the challenges in 2006 for the humanitarian and development community will not again be immense.
More challenges ahead
WFP faces many challenges in the year ahead.
Six million people are in need of food assistance across Sudan – WFP’s Sudan operation will amount to almost 25 percent of its global emergency workload.
While nearly 10 million people in southern Africa are threatened by drought and HIV/AIDS damages their food security, more than one million victims of the earthquake in Pakistan as well as 1.5 million victims of the tsunami will still need support through the year to rebuild their livelihoods.
Crisis of hunger
The strong support of the EC to WFP goes way beyond funding. It is a partnership which improves the capacities and competencies of both entities – one which improves the effectiveness of aidJohn Aylieff, Director of WFP's European Commission Relations Division
2006 begins with a crisis of hunger as its backdrop. Sadly, hunger is still the number one cause of death in the world today, killing a staggering 25 000 people every day – an 'unnoticed' tsunami every ten days!
In spite of the international community’s pledge to halve world hunger by 2015, the number of hungry people is instead increasing.
In comparison with 1990, Sub-Saharan Africa now has 89 million more people living on less than one dollar per day, 33 million more people suffering from hunger and an additional six million pre-school children who are underweight. Fifteen African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are in their fight against hunger.
“If the international community is to move forward in 2006, we need an even greater degree of collaboration and partnership among all actors.
"And we are looking forward to an even more important collaboration with the European Commission in 2006, as we feel that together we can make an even greater impact on world hunger.
"There has never been a more important moment to work together to achieve the core objective of the first Millennium Development Goal, which is to cut poverty and hunger in half,” said Aylieff.