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Press Release 2009

United States Contributes an Additional USD 70 Million to WFP to Assist Emergency Relief Beneficiaries

December 9, 2009, Addis Ababa

Before departing today from a five-day trip to Ethiopia, the US Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, Ertharin Cousin announced an additional contribution of $70 million to the World Food Program (WFP) to assist the emergency caseload for relief beneficiaries in this country. The contribution is provided from the American people through the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID).  WFP will facilitate management of the food contribution.

This is Ambassador Cousin’s first trip to Ethiopia, and she spent much of her time in the field, visiting agricultural and livestock sites with the Minister of Agriculture H.E. Tefera Deribew, and traveling to the Somali region to see WFP and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) assistance projects supported by the United States.  Her focus in the Somali region was to see the WFP Hubs & Spokes operations, which streamline emergency food distributions, and FAO livestock veterinary interventions and training on livestock disease surveillance and reporting.  Ambassador Cousin was also able to visit several Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) sites and a school feeding program managed by WFP.

The USAID $70 million contribution to WFP will provide an additional 92,310 MT of food to support the general relief program in Ethiopia for the 2010 calendar year.  This contribution is the third major U.S. food relief contribution since October 2009, bringing the total U.S. contribution since October to $246 million (356,560 MT).  USAID programs its relief efforts through WFP and a consortium of NGOs led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to respond to the emergency need.  The United States is also a significant contributor to PSNP, a food-for-work program led by the Ethiopian Government. These relief contributions will allow the U.S. to further respond to a portion of the relief needs recently released in the Joint Government and Humanitarian Partners’ National Contingency Plan.  This document identifies potential needs for the first six months of 2010.  Since January of 2009, USAID has contributed over 630,000 metric tons of food valued at $427.3 million to the relief response effort through WFP and NGO partners.

At the 2009 L’Aquila G-8 Summit in July, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged that the U.S. would invest $3.5 billion in agriculture-led economic growth to combat hunger.  Speaking about this while in Ethiopia, Ambassador Cousin explained, “The $3.5 billion the United States has pledged is to support country-developed plans to achieve food security.  It is not just about seed and fertilizer but includes education and market development and, in particular, support to women.  In order to ensure sustainable gains, plans will be made in coordination with governments with the aim of building capacity.  By increasing the capacity for self-sufficiency, we can reduce the need for assistance in the future.” 

After a discussion with a group of women at the Jijiga livestock market, built through USAID’s Pastoralists Livelihoods Initiative, Ambassador Cousin emphasized the need to provide entrepreneurial opportunities for women, “The women told me that because they are earning incomes, they are no longer worried about where their food will come from and, as such, they are now able to send their children to school.”

Additional information on the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative can be found at: www.state.gov/s/globalfoodsecurity.