Khartoum — The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), which has faced a funding shortfall of $366 million until the end of 2022, has welcomed a contribution of $4.5 million from the government of Japan to provide life-saving food assistance to internally displaced people in Sudan. The funding will enable WFP to purchase 3,600 tonnes of sorghum to support 130,000 displaced in Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and Darfur for the next four months, the WFP says. The Japanese grant follows a similar announcement by the UK government this month to allocate £3 million in emergency humanitarian funding to the WFP.
“We are extremely grateful for this generous funding from the government of Japan to support women, men, and children who have been driven from their homes by conflict,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Sudan. “Chronic funding shortages are forcing WFP to reduce food rations even for the most vulnerable such as displaced people and refugees. We appeal to donors to help restore full rations.”
Japan’s contribution comes at a time when the combined effects of conflict, extreme weather, economic and political crises, poor harvests and rising costs of food, energy and fertilizer, caused in part by the conflict in Ukraine, have left over 15 million people food insecure in Sudan according to WFP’s Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment (CFSVA). The assessment further warns that this number could rise to 18 million – or 40 per cent of the population – by September, as families struggle to cope through the lean season.
“We think it is necessary for us to help Sudan respond to the current food crisis through WFP which provides life-saving food assistance to vulnerable populations, particularly displaced people in Sudan,” said Hattori Takashi, Ambassador of Japan to Sudan. “This contribution from the people of Japan comes as part of our responsibility as friends of the Sudanese people towards the improvement of their food security amidst an ongoing global food crisis.”
In 2022, WFP has so far provided food and nutrition assistance to over 4.8 million people in Sudan including 1.7 million displaced people who continue to receive much needed emergency assistance through in-kind food and cash. However, due to chronic funding shortfalls, WFP is only able to provide half rations for all displaced people and refugees, the organisation says.
The government of Japan is a long-standing partner of WFP in Sudan. In 2020 and 2021, Japan contributed a total of US$4.5 million to WFP for various initiatives including support for people whose livelihoods were affected by locust invasions, emergency nutrition assistance for infants, mothers, and pregnant women in West and Central Darfur, emergency food assistance for refugees fleeing conflict in northern Ethiopia and capacity strengthening for the delivery of social protection services, the WFP statement concludes.
£3 million UK grant
The announcement of the Japanese grant follows a similar announcement by the UK government to coincide with United Nations World Humanitarian Day (Friday 19 August) to allocate £3 million in emergency humanitarian funding to the WFP, Sudan, helping reach approximately 120,000 vulnerable people with food assistance.
The UK grant is part of a package of £36 million in UK humanitarian funding to help people in Ukraine, East Africa and Syria.
In reply to questions from Radio Dabanga regarding requests for additional aid to the displaced of Darfur in June, the WFP in Sudan said in a statement that is “currently facing a funding shortfall of $366 million from now until the end of 2022. Additionally, insecurity across Darfur impedes our ability to deliver assistance to certain locations, particularly areas where there have been recent clashes.”
Acknowledging the depth of the crisis, WFP underlined at the time: “Our first priority is to save lives and provide emergency food or nutrition assistance, especially to internally displaced people or refugees who have been displaced from their homes. WFP is currently in a position where we are having to prioritise assistance based on the resources available. These are always heart wrenching decisions to make, knowing that we cannot help everyone in Sudan who needs it.”
“This is getting even more challenging for WFP, as the number of people who are food insecure in Sudan has drastically increased. Currently one-third of the population, or 15 million people, face food insecurity throughout the lean season in Sudan which lasts through September. By then, we expect the number to have further increased up to 18 million people, or 40 per cent of the country’s population,” the WFP told Radio Dabanga.
WFP in Sudan has faced challenges on the ground, especially after three major WFP warehouses in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher were raided and looted in December 2021. The unstable security situation has also made matters precarious for logistics, as drivers of convoys transporting WFP aid have been targeted by bandits.