WFP asks billion people for $1.5 to end hunger
Rome, November 14, 2009
The World Food Programme, facing a major funding shortfall as donor governments are hit by the financial crisis, is to appeal directly to millions of individuals to give small amounts of cash to beat hunger.
Josette Sheeran, head of the UN food aid body, said the Internet appeal (www.wfp.org/1billion), being launched on Saturday, was to get one billion people living in the developed world to give just 1 euro ($1.50) a week to the campaign, which would be enough to end world hunger.
It is the first time the WFP, which is mainly funded by national governments, has launched such an appeal.
'We now have hunger galloping ahead -- over a billion people now for the first time in history -- and because of the financial pressure on governments we think it's really important now to call on the citizens of the world to help solve this problem directly,' Sheeran told Reuters in an interview.
Speaking ahead of a World Food Summit which starts on Monday in Rome, Sheeran said the WFP was on track to raise only around half the $6.7 billion it had targeted for this year, with most of it coming from national governments.
While this year's forecast $3.7 billion budget would be WFP's second highest ever, it was still not enough to tackle the humanitarian crises around the globe, she said.
Sheeran said the WFP was facing 'a year of tough choices' as a drought in the Horn of Africa, floods in the Philippines and conflict in northern Pakistan stretch its ability to cope with emergencies.
This also came against a backdrop of stubbornly high hood prices in the developing world after the 2007-2008 food crisis, which have forced tens of millions more people into hunger.
'The problem at the moment is that WFP probably has 10 or 12 acute emergencies on its hands, each one complex, each one with its own compelling situation and none that can really afford to be neglected,' Sheeran said.
'We are cutting rations, but we would rather send a message to the citizens of the world to help us fill this food cup,' said Sheeran, holding a red food cup taken from a WFP programme in Rwanda. 'Because it's just not an acceptable choice to not stand with those hungry right now.'