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WFP Applauds Additional US Donation To Fight Growing Hunger In The Sahel

ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today applauded additional humanitarian assistance from the United States to help millions of people affected by the drought that has gripped the Sahel region of West Africa.

“This latest donation from the U.S. Agency for International Development comes at a critical time for the people of the Sahel,” said WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin.  “We are entering the period known as the lean season before the new harvests, when food is scarce and the prices on the market are at their highest.  The needs in the Sahel are enormous, and this new assistance from the U.S. comes at exactly the right time.”

In total, the U.S. Agency for International Development is providing US$56.9 million in additional funding to WFP.  Of this amount, US$36.9 million is for in-kind food aid and distribution, and US$20 million is for the regional purchase and distribution of sorghum – a staple food in local diets.

WFP and its partners have launched a regional response to reach more than 9 million people with food assistance in Niger, Chad, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Cameroon and The Gambia. This is the third regional drought in recent years and people have had little time to rebuild their livelihoods and recover from previous disasters.

“When I was in Rome earlier this year I pledged, along with other donors, to match early warning with early action in the Sahel, and the U.S. government is living up to that pledge,” said Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development.  “This additional assistance will provide lifesaving food aid for some of the most vulnerable people across the Sahel.  To ensure that we reach people as quickly as possible, a portion of this food will be purchased regionally.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development says that it will also provide US$29 million in assistance through non-governmental organisations for programmes that address acute household food insecurity while supporting key construction and rehabilitation activities that lead to longer-term, more sustainable food security.  The new assistance brings the total U.S. government humanitarian assistance to over US$308 million in fiscal year 2012.

“The contribution from the United States is timely as it arrives at the start of the lean season, which is already compounded by a fragile food security situation,” said His Excellency, Gaoussou Drabo, the Malian Ambassador in Rome. “Malian refugees have been forced to move from the north into neighbouring countries, aggravating the food security situation of host communities in Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. WFP’s on-the-ground knowledge and expertise is making a real difference.”

Drabo was speaking at a handover ceremony at WFP headquarters in Rome, attended by Nancy Lindborg on behalf of the U.S. Agency for International Development, His Excellency, Ambassador Amadou Toure from Niger, and representatives from Burkina Faso and Cameroon.

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For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob. +1 646 8241112
Rene McGuffin, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1 202 4223383