Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein has travelled to Malawi on her first field visit as a Goodwill Ambassador for WFP to see first hand the impact of the food crisis there.
Princess Haya, the daughter of His Majesty the late King Hussein Bin Talal of Jordan and wife of HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Defence Minister of the UAE, was appointed WFP's Goodwill Ambassador last October by WFP's Executive Director, James Morris.
Much of the world's attention is focused on major crisis areas, but Malawi experiences food shortages every year, and the cameras are not always there to tell the world
Princess Haya, WFP Goodwill Ambassador
“This year, the world has witnessed many natural disasters and people continue to suffer from the effects of those tragedies.
"Much of the world's attention is focused on major crisis areas, but Malawi experiences food shortages every year, and the cameras are not always there to tell the world,” said Princess Haya.
“The Malawi food crisis is not just the result of a bad harvest. The situation there is complex, and the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS has made people’s livelihoods extremely fragile.
Talking and understanding
"I want to talk to people and understand what they are going through so I can speak to the world on their behalf,” she added.
“We have become too used to seeing the faces of hungry children on those five-second television clips, yet each one of us does little to change that.
"What we see on the screen is nothing compared to what is actually on the ground and I feel that is it my duty to experience that myself and relay it to as many people and decision makers as I can,” said Princess Haya.
Nutritional rehabilitation units
During her day-long visit, Princess Haya will be talking to children and their mothers who often walk miles to come to Nutritional Rehabilitation Units.
She will also attend a WFP food distribution for the most vulnerable people in Malawi.
Worrying malnutrition rates
What we see on the screen is nothing compared to what is actually on the ground and I feel that is it my duty to experience that myself and relay it to as many people and decision makers as I can
Princess Haya, WFP Goodwill Ambassador
Months before the lean season this year in Malawi, worrying malnutrition rates were triggered by spiralling maize prices, the worst dry spell since 1994, chronic poverty, and a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
In total, 4.9 million people in Malawi will need food assistance through to April 2006. WFP is distributing food to more than 1.3 million of those people in December and will scale up to 2.4 million people in January.
Peak of the lean season
Malawi suffers from long-term issues that will not disappear in a few months, and Princess Haya’s visit comes at the peak of the lean season in order to help direct the eyes of the international community to Malawi at a time when it is most needed.
Her visit will re-generate attention to the area and spread awareness about the needs of the poor and hungry in countries that continue to suffer, but have been overshadowed by other world crises.
WFP Executive Director James Morris said it was a great honour for WFP to have such a prominent advocate on behalf of the hungry poor.
“Her Royal Highness’s philanthropy, dedication and distinguished record of public service and her outstanding commitment to humanitarian causes will undoubtedly help us reach out to more people, not only in the Arab and Muslim world but across the globe,” he said.
When Princess Haya was appointed as WFP Goodwill Ambassador, she became the first Arab and the first woman to take up this position.
Her appointment was supported by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, making her the second Goodwill Ambassador ever for WFP. Additionally, WFP has a number of Ambassadors against Hunger and celebrity spokespeople.
Princess Haya established the first food aid non-governmental organization in the Arab world, “Tkiyet Um Ali” - a unique initiative that she founded in Jordan to provide food aid and social services to the poor.