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Howard G. Buffett Foundation Renews Support For United Nations World Food Programme's Work In Eastern DRC

KINSHASA, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has announced three new grants to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) worth nearly US$350,000. The funds will support a “green initiative” to reduce fuel costs associated with WFP operations and facilitate airport rehabilitation projects allowing greater humanitarian access.

Howard G. Buffett, President and CEO of the Foundation and a WFP Ambassador Against Hunger, approved the projects soon after returning from his sixth trip to the region in the last twelve months and his third visit with WFP’s team in Goma.

“We continue to be impressed with the great work WFP is doing in eastern DRC to provide assistance to communities and to IDPs returning home whose food security has been threatened by conflict,” said Buffett. “The green initiative will allow WFP to reduce its operating costs and the airport rehabilitation projects will ensure a wide range of humanitarian organizations can more readily access areas in need of food assistance. Our Foundation is focused on investing strategically but locally to support sustained peace, stability, and human and economic development, and these grants support those goals.”

The Foundation’s contribution will allow for the purchase and installation of solar panels, lamps in nine offices and warehouse locations in Ango, Beni, Dungu, Gemena, Goma, Kalemie, Kindu, Mbandaka and Mbuji Mayi, reducing WFP’s night-time use of fuel generators at these locations.

The rehabilitation of the runway at Lubutu in Maniema province will open up access for air transport in the region, facilitating humanitarian intervention for the 160,000 displaced people who have fled conflict in the neighbouring North and South Kivu provinces. Currently the only access to Lubutu is via road, a costly and inefficient option. The increased access will also stimulate the local economy through increased commercial activities in the area.

Additional funds will support expansion of the runway at Dongo, to enable landing of WFP and UNHCR airplanes. Flights to and from Dongo were suspended in February 2013 due to the deterioration of the airstrip, hampering the repatriation of 32,000 refugees to Equateur province and overall humanitarian operations in the region.

“Howard Buffett has been a long-time friend and partner to WFP,” said Martin Ohlsen, WFP Country Director for DRC. “These contributions build upon his past support for WFP’s humanitarian efforts in eastern DRC. He has seen first-hand through his frequent visits how valuable these projects will be to our work here.”

The Howard G Buffett Foundation has committed over US$50 million to WFP since 2006. Separately, the Foundation has to date invested more than US$100 million in the Great Lakes region of Africa and committed and additional US$50 million over the next two years in eastern DRC.

To learn more about the Foundation’s work in the region, visit: http://www.thehowardgbuffettfoundation.org/initiatives/africa-great-lake.... To learn more about WFP’s work in the DRC, visit http://www.wfp.org/countries/congo-democratic-republic. 

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The Howard G. Buffett Foundation works to improve the quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalized populations. It focuses on three core areas: food security, water security, and conflict mitigation. Based in Decatur, Illinois, the Foundation is led by President and CEO Howard G. Buffett. To learn more about the Foundation visit www.thehowardgbuffettfoundation.org.

The World Food Programme is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.  Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries. To learn more about WFP visit www.wfp.org.

For more information please contact:

Howard G. Buffett Foundation
Media Relations, media@hgbfoundation.org

World Food Programme
(Email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org)
Fabienne Pompey, WFP/Kinshasa, Mobile +243 97 0000 292 
David Orr, WFP/Nairobi, Mobile +254 707 722 105