WFP urges donors to act beyond feeding Africa's hungry

Tokyo- Japan (PANA) -- World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, James Morris challenged donors here Tuesday to aim beyond Africa's needs in times of crisis, to foster self-reliance among its peoples so they can cope on their own in adverse times.
"Responding to emergencies is not enough," Morris told journalists at a press conference held on the sidelines of the 3rd Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD III) underway here.
"We need to work in quiet times as well on long-term projects that root out hunger, poverty and dependency," he suggested.
Morris said food prospects in southern Africa look better now than two years back, but warned that the overall situation continent-wide remained worrying.
"Africa is a continent in great stress," he indicated, saying WFP was feeding 40 million people this year in east, west and southern Africa.
With the continent's need for aid hitting unprecedented levels, Morris said WFP relief operations in the continent this year required $2 billion -- the agency's entire budget for worldwide operations last year.
Last July, WFP appealed for $308 million to fund some 540,000 tons of food, enough to feed 6.
5 million people until June next year in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Malawi, but has so far received only 24 percent of the needed amount.
"More than half of our work is done in Africa," he said, adding that the problem of food shortage was compounded by AIDS, which impacts severely on agriculture.
The havoc wreaked by the scourge was most profound on children, he said, noting that 11 million have so far been orphaned, and the number could hit 20 million in 2010.
"It is potentially the largest humanitarian tragedy I have ever known," Morris bemoaned, recalling an incident in which he met a house of five in Zimbabwe headed by a child who looked hardly seven years of age.
Zimbabwe, currently enduring an inflation rate of more than 400 percent, has some 70,000 children orphaned by AIDS.
At Tuesday's press conference, Morris announced the launch of a new humanitarian partnership with popular contemporary jazz artist Keiko Matsui.
The award-winning Japanese pianist and composer who flew in from Los Angeles for the press conference, is dedicating her upcoming concert tours as well as a song on her new album to WFP's relief work in Africa.
"This is a partnership that harnesses the power of music to address humanitarian needs," Morris said of the gesture in which Matsui will donate royalties from her song 'Wildflower' to WFP operations in Africa.
"I find a great cause in what WFP is doing in Africa, especially after personally meeting orphaned children in Soweto," Matsui told journalists shortly after a brief performance for the audience.
"We must make sure that any child of the world who has this kind of gift," Morris said of Matsui, "should be able to eat and grow up, not die of hunger.

30 september 2003 10:16:00

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