WFP has welcomed a generous cash donation of US$58.3 million from the Government of Sweden to support the agency’s operations around the world, placing them as the fifth largest donor to WFP in 2007.
On many occasions WFP staff put their own safety at risk when bringing food to vulnerable people in areas where, for security reasons, there is often no other international presence
Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation
“We are extremely grateful for Sweden’s generosity,” said John Powell, WFP’s Deputy Executive Director for Fundraising and Communications. “
By any measure, this is a significant donation, not only because of its size, which is considerable, but also because it is flexible cash. Sweden’s donation equips us with the means to bring life-saving assistance to millions of poor and hungry people in the most efficient manner,” he said
The donation is a valued ‘multilateral’ contribution, a category that permits funding, after agreement by WFP and Sweden, to be used in operations anywhere in the world.
It provides the flexibility needed to channel financing not only to high-profile global emergencies but also to underfunded operations in countries that are not always in the international media spotlight. Despite the clear benefits, only 9 percent of total contributions to WFP, valued at US$243 million, were multilateral last year.
In announcing the new contribution, Gunilla Carlsson, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, noted that, “On many occasions WFP staff put their own safety at risk when bringing food to vulnerable people in areas where, for security reasons, there is often no other international presence. WFP is doing invaluable work in Sudan, an operation to which part of Sweden’s contribution to WFP has been allocated."
Local food procurement
The new contribution is also in line with the priority on local food procurement advocated by both the UN agency and the Swedish government.
WFP endeavours to buy food in local markets close to those who most need assistance, realising sizeable cost savings while at the same time benefiting local farmers and helping nurture local economies.
Last year, 77 percent of WFP’s total food purchases, valued at more than US$460 million, were bought locally in 70 developing world countries.
The Swedish government has long stressed the need for the local purchase of food from the agricultural production of developing countries.
On the 30 May, Sweden co-sponsored a technical meeting that explored methods of ensuring the most effective utilisation of local and regional food procurement.
A part of the Swedish contribution (US$1.49 million) is being used to replenish the Swedish trust fund established to support WFP capacity building efforts in key policy and operational areas.
Specific proposals for the 2007 grant are still under discussion. Among the projects approved in 2006 were programmes to improve school health in Indonesia, provide safety nets for food insecure women in rural Syria, enhance local purchasing in Burkina Faso and develop an exit strategy model for school feeding in Angola.
Another arm of the Swedish Government, the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida), provides support to WFP for food and logistics operations, especially in response to new emergencies.
Junior professional officers
Sida and WFP are currently finalising an agreement for a US$584,000 donation, being provided in response to the 2007 logistics cluster appeal.
Sida also recently confirmed the assignment of four additional Junior Professional Officers to work with WFP in Sudan, Nepal, Uganda and WFP’s Rome headquarters.
In addition to being an important WFP donor – ranking fifth in per capita contributions last year – the Swedish Government also assisted the agency’s operations through a stand-by agreement with the Swedish Rescue Service Agency that permits the recruitment and deployment of Swedish personnel in acute humanitarian crises.
In 2006, SRSA deployed 33 staff and provided service packages for Lebanon, Pakistan and Angola. SRSA has also been supporting WFP's corporate emergency response training since 2000 by providing training facilities, instructors and other simulation support.