Addis Ababa―Thanks to timely contributions from key donors, the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) is able to continue food distributions later this month for more than 1.5 million people in the Somali region of Ethiopia, and can scale up nutrition help to more than 700,000 children and nursing mothers in the most drought-affected areas. The scaling up of food and nutrition support is crucial to prevent vulnerable people falling into a deeper crisis.

However, even with the new contributions, WFP has only 7 percent of the US$228 million budget required for food and nutrition interventions until June 2016.

A dramatic increase in the number of people in need of relief assistance, from 2.5 million at the beginning of the year to 8.2 million in October, led to a serious funding gap, and WFP was concerned that it would have to entirely stop distributions for people affected by the drought at the end of November.

Such a situation was avoided, thanks to contributions from – in alphabetical order – Canada,Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund. The United States Agency for International Development has also confirmed an in-kind contribution equivalent to US$17 million to WFP.

“These donors have shown incredible leadership in their response to the current crisis, and their generous contributions will help people cope with this humanitarian crisis exacerbated by El Nino,” said John Aylieff, WFP Representative and Country Director in Ethiopia.

The in-kind contribution will be used to meet the immediate food needs of vulnerable people in the early part of 2016, while the cash contributions will allow WFP to extend life-saving food and nutrition assistance until the end of the year.

More than 1.5 million people in the Somali region will receive cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and a fortified high-protein blend known as Super Cereal. These rations will help stabilize malnutrition rates, which have risen sharply in recent months since the drought took hold.

This will complement government distributions in other regions following the government of Ethiopia’s allocation of 4 billion birr (US$ 192 million) to relief efforts. Humanitarian needs still remain extremely high in the first six months of 2016, and WFP, together with the government of Ethiopia, is gearing up to provide assistance to at least 6 million people.

Recent contributions to WFP’s relief operation in Ethiopia include: USA (US$ 17 million), UN CERF (US$17 million), Sweden (US$ 16.8 million), Canada (US$ 2.6 million), Switzerland (US$ 1.7 million), and Norway (US$ 1.7 million).

Source: WFP
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