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Minister Smith Announces €10 Million in Food Aid for the Hungry Poor

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith TD, today announced €9.96 million in funding is to be provided by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). "This money will be used by WFP to provide food to the hungry poor in Africa and elsewhere and in support of the increasing numbers of emergency situations" Minister Smith stated.

There are 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today. That means one in nearly six people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to the health worldwide - greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The World Bank estimates that 1.4 billion people are now living on less than $1.25 a day. More than half the world's population lives in low-income, food-deficit countries that are unable to produce or import enough food to feed their people.

The World Food Programme, which is the UN agency responsible for the provision of food aid, are fighting hunger across the globe, an ongoing battle which has been made harder by the recent increases in food and fuel prices across the world and the increase in emergency situations. Minister Smith declared "Food security is non-negotiable, if it is neglected we face catastrophe. We provide our support in the most effective manner. Ireland's core contribution to the WFP is paid in cash.  Cash is the most flexible resource and it gives WFP complete discretion to direct food aid where it is most needed".

The funding will be used to bring food aid as a response to natural and man-made emergencies, to help bring people from crisis to recovery and in support of logistics to speed up the delivery of aid.  In 2010, €6 million of the core funding will be directed to Emergency Operations. Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs responds to requests for funding for specific WFP emergency appeals on an ongoing basis and recently provided €300,000 to WFP for the emergency in Haiti. This combined approach makes Ireland's contributions to WFP especially useful to the organisation. All Irish funding to WFP is in the form of untied cash grants.

Minister Smith referred to the issue of climate change and food security and in particular scientific research, which indicates that climate change will dramatically increase the number of people at risk of hunger and malnutrition especially in regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are already exposed and very vulnerable to food insecurity.

The Minister stated that "climate change is occurring and will continue to have a negative impact on world-wide agriculture production systems migrating against the requirement to meet the rising food demand and thereby threatening global food security. WFP advocates on behalf of the most vulnerable to the hunger and nutritional impact of climate change and supports the development of national and global policies to mitigate this impact".

NOTE FOR EDITORS

The World Food Programme (WFP) was established in 1962 and is the food aid organisation of the United Nations. It is an aid programme, which operates on the basis of voluntary contributions by donor countries pledged at irregular intervals. The WFP provides food aid primarily to low-income, food deficit countries, to assist in the implementation of economic and social development projects and to meet the relief needs of victims of natural and other disasters. In 2008, WFP fed 102 million people in 78 countries. Currently some of WFP's major operations include: Haiti, Eastern Africa (Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia) Southern Africa (Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe) and elsewhere. Since its foundation, WFP has fed more than 1.6 billion of the world's poorest people and invested almost $42 billion in development and emergency relief.

In 2009, Ireland was 21st largest donor to WFP contributor.

Date Released: 28 March 2010