South Africa Donates $21.5 Million to FAO/WFP

Please find below a press release issued by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) regarding South Africa's donation of $2.1 million to FAO and the World Food Programme, to support the agencies' operations in southern Africa.


4 October 2005, Johannesburg - South Africa will donate 140 million rand ($21.5 million) to FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) to support the agencies' operations in southern Africa, FAO/WFP announced today.

The donation is the third major contribution from South Africa to the UN agencies since 2003 and comes at a critical time in the gearing up phase of programmes ahead of the region's lean season, which starts as early as November in some countries.

FAO will receive 98 million rand ($15 million) for agricultural and livestock inputs, and WFP will get 35 million rand ($5.4 million) for food aid. An additional 7 million rand ($1.1 million) will be donated for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Early Warning System.

"Yet again the Government of South Africa is playing a leading role in trying to help its neighbours during their time of critical food need," said Mike Sackett, WFP Regional Director for Southern Africa. "Already many poor people have very little to eat and their needs are only going to escalate the closer we get to the lean season, but because it's a cash donation, we'll be able to buy food locally and quickly transport it to the people in need."

In 2003 South Africa donated 170 million rand to WFP which was used to buy 100 000 tonnes of maize in this country. In 2004, the Government donated 100 million rand, which was divided between the FAO and WFP to help people meet their food security needs.

FAO has supported farmers and their families with agricultural inputs, the provision of poultry and goats, tools for small-scale irrigation and vaccines against animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth, and the creation of cassava and sweet potato nurseries and backyard gardens, among other activities.

"Large numbers of people in the central-eastern part of southern Africa including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and southern Mozambique are at risk of food insecurity due to reduced harvests, lack of purchasing power and the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS," said Anne M. Bauer, Director of FAO's Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division.

"Rural families will need further support to broaden the basis of their often very poor incomes," she said. "Vulnerable households require better access to agricultural and livestock inputs. FAO will provide assistance in livestock surveillance, soil and water conservation and management, gardens, small-scale irrigation, training in labour- and time-saving technologies, school gardening and Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools," Bauer said.

Funding shortfall

WFP launched a regional appeal in January this year for $621 million to assist the region's most vulnerable in Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe over the next three years. However, WFP still faces an immediate funding shortfall of $152 million to feed up to 9.2 million people through to the end of the next lean season in March/April 2006.

FAO has asked for $16 million to finance its emergency activities in southern Africa. To date, the agency has only received $3 million.

The situation in southern Africa is considered so serious that in early August, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan wrote to 27 Heads of State, the European Commission and the African Development Bank to raise the alarm for urgent funding to "avert a catastrophe".

"Maize prices are already rising dramatically in most countries in the region, months ahead of the lean season, which means that many people we assumed would be able to fend for themselves will need food aid earlier," said Sackett. "The South African donation comes at the right time to help many people who would otherwise face an extremely difficult and long period without enough food to eat."

Erwin Northoff
News Coordinator
(+39) 06 5705 3105
(+39) 348 25 23 616


For more information, please contact Zaheer Laher at (212) 692 2460

Issued by the Permanent Mission of South Africa
New York

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