Acting Foreign Minister Jeff Radebe signs agreement with the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Pretoria - South African Acting Foreign Minister Jeff Radebe will co-sign, with the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Sheila Sisulu, an agreement establishing the WFP Regional Bureau for Southern Africa in South Africa.

The WFP informed the Department of Foreign Affairs in 2004 of their desire to establish a Regional Bureau for Southern Africa in South Africa. The WFP has been active in the Southern Africa region for some time after the Department of Foreign Affairs previously gave priority approval to the WFP to open up a regional logistics unit in Johannesburg to co-ordinate the UN inter-agency relief effort for the sub-region.

Through the Agreement, this office would become upgraded to a permanent regional office. The WFP is the premier international organisation for food aid distribution and has been playing an important facilitation role as the major supplier of food and non-food assistance to victims of humanitarian crisis in the Southern African region. The WFP has a wealth of experience in setting up and running emergency "food pipelines". The WFP's structures in the region are also being utilised by Government Departments in the distribution of aid. The establishment of the Regional Bureau will ensure the fast and efficient execution of WFP activities. The Regional Office in South Africa will make the WFP operations and humanitarian response to the region easier.

During 2005, the Department of Foreign Affairs conducted discussions with the National Department of Agriculture to find the best way of addressing the food shortage situation in the region. The objective of South Africa's aid package is in support of the NEPAD objectives and the MDGs is by concentrating on interventions that safeguard the sustainable development of affected communities and thereby assisting in reducing their dependency on long-term aid. The South African government has contributed R140m to FAO/WFP to support food relief and rehabilitation projects in seven Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries namely, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

South Africa in previous years also made substantial donations to assist with food security issues in the region. It will be recalled that in response to the first WFP co-ordinated emergency appeal in 2002, the South African Government donated R170 million for the acquisition of 100 000 MT of maize meal for WFP humanitarian assistance to six Southern African countries. In 2003, the South African Government contributed R100 million.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

21 May 2006

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