Press release from Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Government, Sida and World Food Programme present major investment to combat hunger crisis

Published

The humanitarian and health situation around the world has worsened considerably as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic is expected to lead to a doubling of the number of people suffering from acute hunger to 265 million this year. Sweden and the World Food Programme (WFP) are now deepening their cooperation to tackle the global hunger crisis.

“The world is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was founded 75 years ago. Conflict, climate change, economic chaos and now COVID-19 have left the hungry hungrier and the poor poorer”, says David Beasley, Executive Director of the WFP.

Today, the Government is presenting a support package worth SEK 170 million in additional support for initiatives to combat the increasing hunger in the world. The Government’s support package, which will be disbursed from the regular aid budget, will be divided between the WFP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). It also includes funds to Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) humanitarian appropriations.

“We are facing the largest hunger catastrophe ever seen. The need for humanitarian relief is increasing as more countries are reducing their aid, right in the midst of the crisis. But Sweden will stand by the 1 per cent goal and is working actively for more countries to take greater responsibility. The climate crisis, the pandemic and the hunger crisis are linked, and we must all do what we can to tackle this,” says Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation.

In addition to the Government’s support package, Sida has approved SEK 188.7 million in new support to the WFP’s work. SEK 78.7 million will go immediately to three of the world’s poorest countries, where the food shortages are alarming: South Sudan (SEK 33.7 million), Sudan (SEK 15 million) and Yemen (SEK 30 million). The remaining SEK 110 million will form an early pledge to the WFP’s activities for 2021, as food shortages are expected to worsen rather than improve.

“Not having access to food and constantly going hungry is a horrific feeling that many children and adults are forced to endure. According to the UN, 690 million people are currently living in chronic hunger, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to increase this number considerably. But having access to food can also mean more: reducing the risk of being recruited to armed conflict to access food, not having to marry off your daughters so that they will have food, not having to sell sex in exchange for food, or not risking being trafficked for forced labour or criminal activities just to ease your hunger,” says Carin Jämtin, Director General of Sida.

Sida’s current humanitarian agreement with the WFP for 2019–2021 is worth SEK 695 million. The initiatives supported by Sida in 2020 encompass acute food aid and humanitarian air transports/logistics in a total of 13 countries – the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, North Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Niger, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Yemen – and capacity support in the area of protection.

Sida contributes to the WFP’s longer-term work to combat hunger and food shortages through development cooperation strategies at country level; in Sudan, for example, acute humanitarian support to the WFP is supplemented with a long-term initiative worth SEK 133 million over three years to strengthen social safety nets and reduce crop losses for vulnerable farmers.