WFP has warmly welcomed its first ever contribution of food from the Zambian government, a donation of 10,000 metric tons of maize worth US$2.5 million that will allow hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Zambians to keep receiving crucial food assistance beyond September.
The contribution provides a lifeline for vulnerable people across the country, including thousands of AIDS patients, orphans and their families
David Stevenson, WFP Country Director in Zambia
“WFP is extremely grateful for this very generous and very timely donation from the Zambian government, which will avert any immediate cuts to our assistance operations in Zambia,” said David Stevenson, WFP Country Director in Zambia.
“The contribution provides a lifeline for vulnerable people across the country, including thousands of AIDS patients, orphans and their families,” he said.
While Zambia has enjoyed good harvests for the past three years, a combination of localised crop failures, crippling poverty and the impact of HIV/AIDS has left hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in need of food assistance.
Without this substantial donation, WFP would have been forced to halt its remaining food assistance programmes for 370,000 Zambians by the end of September.
Funding constraints already forced WFP to reduce the number of beneficiaries in Zambia from 500,000 to 370,000 in June.
Further cuts would have left patients on anti-retroviral therapy or enrolled in home-based care programmes without the food that they need to survive and left their families – as well as many households caring for orphans – with no way of providing enough food for themselves.
School feeding critical
WFP would also have been unable to resume its critical school feeding operation when the new term kicks off in September, leaving 126,000 orphans and vulnerable children without access to sufficient food and with no extra incentive to turn up for class.
However, WFP still needs another US$10 million for its operations to continue until the end of 2007.
“The Zambian government has always valued WFP’s work and this donation will help to keep our food aid flowing for a couple more months,” said Stevenson.
“Together with the Zambian government, we urge other donors to come forward urgently so WFP is not forced to make huge cuts later in the year,” he said.
Needed cash donations will be used to purchase food within Zambia wherever possible. Local procurement assists small-scale farmers and stimulates the local economy as well as helping WFP cut costs and speed delivery of food aid to the most vulnerable across the country.
This Zambian donation will also boost local food markets because the Zambian government buys its maize from small-scale farmers.
So far in 2007, WFP has bought 34,000 tons of food in Zambia valued at US$7.3 million. Over the past six years, WFP purchased 295,000 tons at a cost of US$63 million in Zambia while globally it bought 1.5 million tons of food valued at US$460 million from developing countries.