3 October 2005

Southern Africa: South Africa Boosts Aid to Region

Johannesburg — South Africa has announced a R140 million (US $22 million) donation to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to alleviate food shortages in Southern Africa.

The Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs said in a statement that the government had agreed "to provide humanitarian food aid assistance and to support the rehabilitation of agricultural production in seven countries in the region ... Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe".

"It [the government] has agreed in principle to make R140 million available this year, with the main focus on rehabilitation of agricultural productivity, and in proportion to the identified respective country needs," the statement noted.

Of the total donation, 70 percent - R98 million ($15.4 million) - would be used to assist households to become agriculturally productive again. Aid agencies have blamed drought, a shortage of seeds and fertilisers and weakened capacity due to HIV/AIDS as the main factors responsible for the agricultural decline in Southern Africa.

Twenty-five percent of the total donation - R35 million ($5.5 million) - would be allocated to direct food relief through WFP, while the remaining five percent - R7 million ($1.1 million)- would be used to support the regional early warning system.

"The South African donation comes at a time when nearly 9.2 million people require emergency food aid in Southern Africa. This is the third major South African donation to WFP, and clearly shows the government's support for the people of the region," WFP spokesman Mike Huggins told IRIN.

The details and timing of the assistance were still to be finalised in collaboration with WFP and FAO, but the South African government has stipulated "that procurement in terms of this donation will be done within South Africa and the region".

In 2002/03 South Africa donated R170 million ($26.7 million) to WFP for food aid in the region, followed by a R100 million ($15.7 million) in 2003/04 for both food aid and agricultural rehabilitation programmes.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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