World Food Programme (WFP)
HISTORY AND PRESENT STATUS
The WFP was established in 1961 as the Food Aid
Organisation of the United Nations (UN). It became
operational in 1963, and is the largest multinational
food aid organisation in the world handling approximately
one quarter of global food aid. Since its inception
WFP has provided assistance to poor and hungry people
valued at more than US$18 billion. In 1994 WFP delivered
some 2.8 million metric tonnes of food aid which
directly benefited more than 50 million people.
An Executive Director, Mrs Catherine Bertini who
began her term of office in 1992, heads the WFP.
The organisation employs some 4000 staff world-wide.
Its headquarters are in Rome. The supervision of
the programme was vested in the Committee on Food
Aid Policies and Programmes (CFA) until the end
of 1995. The CFA was replaced by an Executive Board
from January 1996
Although South Africa is not a member of the WFP,
it contributes to various programmes.
OTHER DEPARTMENTS AND COOPERATING ORGANISATIONS
Department of Agriculture
Department of Trade and Industry
Department of Defence
Department of Health
Prior to 1993 South Africa was excluded from WFP
for political reasons. Since then the Minister and
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and some of their
senior staff have visited the organisation's headquarters.
Embassy personnel have monitored WFP meetings as
observers. South Africa has contributed to one WFP
programme by providing two mineproof vehicles and
humanitarian aid for use in Rwanda but has not received
food or services from the programme. In 2000, South
Africa donated, through the WFP, funds to Eritrea,
Ethiopia and Sierra Leone. During the Mozambique
floods in 2000, South Africa also donated food and
medicines through the WFP to Mozambique.
On the other hand, WFP has shown considerable interest
in South Africa to procure goods and services needed
to provide food aid to countries mainly north of
our country. During the 1992 drought relief operation
in southern Africa, WFP had a permanent representative
at the Spoornet operations room in Johannesburg.
Potential benefits of WFP membership for South
Africa are likely to include the following:
WFP has considered experience with general relief
and food aid policy and has a policy affairs service
dedicated to developing options for major policy
directions for WFP and for food aid in general.
This could be a useful source of experience for
policy makers who periodically have to deal with
localised relief operations including food aid,
in South Africa.
WFP's experience via the organisation's main three
programmes - development protracted refugees and
displaced persons operations, and emergencies -
would be invaluable to South African planners and
South Africans could be trained either through
the WFP training programme or by being temporarily
involved or employed in specific WFP exercises.
South Africa is a integral part of the southern
African food aid equation and, in the long term,
stands to benefit from balanced development and
improved food security in the sub-region.
Membership of WFP would not only bring South African
institutions closer to WFP operations; it would
also help them forge closer and, hopefully, more
constructive links with related agencies such as
UNDHA, UNHCR, UNICEF, FAO and UNDP within the sub-region.
WFP claims to have purchased approximately US$100
million worth of goods and services in South Africa
from 1993-1995. The corresponding amount for 1996
to early 1999 is 1157 million US$ of which 85% was
spent on commodities and 15% on freight earned by
SA transport entities. Over the last seven years
WFP has thus on average spent ± 35 million
US$ per year in SA. At least half of this has been
used to purchase food - mainly maize and maize meal
- largely destined to SADC countries. Purchases
are likely to increase given the inevitable future
food needs of southern Africa, the availability
and competitively of some of these items in South
Africa, and South Africa's strategic location from
a supply point of view. Spoornet is one of WFP's
major clients in South Africa.