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WFP's Sheila Sisulu Highlights Twin-Track Approach To Hunger

The US$20 billion pledged for food security by G8 leaders last week should be used for urgent hunger needs as well as for agricultural development, WFP Deputy Executive Director Sheila Sisulu said Wednesday in the Egyptian Red Sea town of Sharm El Sheikh.

Sheila Sisulu SHARM EL  SHEIK -- The economic crisis is compounding the food crisis from last year and as a result the world is facing "one of the greatest challenges of our times," Sisulu told the Non-Aligned Movement First Ladies Summit here.

"Women are always the first line of defence in times of hardship, hunger or emergency," she added.

During the summit, Sisulu is discussing urgent hunger issues and the challenges women face as a result of the current global economic and food crises. The two-day First Ladies Summit is focusing on “Women in Crisis Management” and is held in conjunction with the Non-Aligned Movement Summit.

"Generous donations"

Sisulu said that last year, when food prices doubled, WFP met its commitments thanks to the generous donations of many countries whose contributions kept millions alive.

In 2008, the UN’s largest humanitarian organization raised $5.2 billion that helped extend life-saving and life-changing assistance to 102 million people, mobilising food for 22 major hunger emergencies, while rising to the challenges of helping millions cope with dramatically high food and fuel prices.

“In a world of trillion dollar financial packages we need a human rescue package,” Sisulu said. “We calculate it would take $3.2 billion per year to reach all 66 million hungry school age children.”

One billion hungry

WFP provides school meals and take-home to an average of 22 million students in some 70 countries for a total value of US$460 million.

In 2009 the number of hungry people is projected to reach over one billion for the first time in history, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). At the same time global food aid supplies are at a 20-year low. 

“I wish I could say that the crisis was over. But it is not. Hunger is on the March,” Sisulu said.