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United States to Provide Extra Food to Africa, Aid Agency Says

USAID concerned over widespread hunger in continent's southern region

Posted: August 17, 2005

The United States will provide an additional 73,500 metric tons of food aid to southern Africa – enough to feed more than 5 million people for one month, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) says.

In an August 12 news release, USAID said that the administration has decided to send more food based on the concern that poor harvest and worsening economic conditions will lead to widespread hunger in countries such as Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Additional supplies of bulgur wheat, cornmeal, sorghum, peas, beans and vegetable oil will reach the target areas through the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), it said.

The WFP hailed the U.S. decision in an August 15 news release, saying: “By stepping in early with such a sizeable donation, the United States is among the first donors to enable WFP to respond effectively to the needs of millions of people, especially vulnerable children, before their needs become critical.”

Following is the text of the USAID release:

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U.S. Agency for International Development

USAID Announces Additional Food Assistance for Southern Africa

U.S. Food Assistance to Southern Africa for 2005 Reaches 143,000 Tons

August 12, 2005

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced today it will provide an additional 73,500 metric tons of US Title II food commodities to southern Africa through the World Food Program (WFP).

USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios said the U.S. government is making the decision to allocate additional aid to southern Africa based on concerns that conditions for widespread hunger exist. Administrator Natsios said the contribution of bulgur wheat, cornmeal, sorghum, vegetable oil, peas, and beans will sustain approximately 5-6 million people for one month and is valued at $51.8 million.

"The United States is leading the world effort to prevent a widespread humanitarian crisis from developing in southern Africa," Administrator Natsios said. "Thanks to the generosity of the American people, millions of Africans facing hunger will be fed. This assistance is part of President Bush's commitment to lift the people of Africa out of poverty and finally break the cycle of hunger."

This most recent donation brings total U.S. food assistance to southern Africa this year to 143,000 tons. An additional US contribution to our PVO (private voluntary organizations) partners is anticipated this month. There are also approximately 65,000 tons of donor commodities already in the region.

Poor rainfall in the 2004/2005 growing season reduced harvests in many areas throughout the region, greatly worsening an already chronic food insecurity situation.

The poor harvests, coupled with underlying problems of poverty, illness and economic decline, have left over 10 million people in need of food assistance over the coming months. Up to a million metric tons of food aid may be needed between now and next year's harvest in order to meet these needs in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The U.S. government has delivered approximately one million metric tons of food aid valued at $600 million since the beginning of 2002, including this contribution, and is the biggest donor to WFP's operations in southern Africa. WFP is currently appealing to the international community for $410 million to feed 8 million people until the spring harvest in March 2006.

USAID has been actively involved in responding to the food security situation in southern Africa since early 2002. The current situation is serious and will worsen in the coming months. The United States expects to ship more food in the coming months to address the urgent and growing humanitarian needs. Given the enormity of the need, the United States is urging other donors to contribute to the regional humanitarian food requirements as well.

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