Beasley: $5 billion in food aid needed
David Beasley, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday, May 11, that $5 billion is needed to avoid famine and migration due to COVID-19 and the loss of food from Ukraine due to the Russian invasion.
Beasley told the Senate Appropriations State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee: “At a minimum, an additional five billion dollars for food assistance from the United States will provide WFP and other aid agencies with the support we need to stem the rising tide of famine. It will also send a very clear message to other donor nations that they must step up to do their part. I do not look to the U.S. to solve these problems alone, but I do ask that you show the humanitarian leadership the U.S. is renowned for and which the world urgently needs right now.”
Beasley, a former South Carolina Republican governor, explained, “The costs of humanitarian inaction are tremendous, especially for people in need, who in the worst cases pay with their lives. Failing to mobilize sufficient, strategic, and timely funds for humanitarian assistance will not spare national budgets. Let me warn you clearly: If you do not respond now, we will see destabilization, mass starvation, and migration on an unprecedented scale, and at a far greater cost. A massive influx of refugees to Western countries could soon become a reality. As soon as they arrive, the host governments will start paying the price – literally – for not having acted earlier. Germany’s recent experience of absorbing Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the civil war is a case in point. It costs less than 50 cents to feed someone for a day in Syria versus almost $70 a day in Germany to provide a refugee with the humanitarian support they require. I therefore urge the members of this body to take decisive action to prevent a rapidly worsening global food crisis and help WFP and our partners stabilize the food security of the most fragile countries at this time of unprecedented need.”
Mercy Corps CEO Tjada D’Oyen McKenna also asked for $5 billion. “The now 323 million people likely facing crisis levels of hunger around the world cannot afford further delay, nor can U.S. partner humanitarian organizations continue making impossible choices every day as to who lives and who dies because of a lack of funding,” McKenna said.
African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said that, “with America’s financing, the African Development Bank Group’s actions to boost harvests from Africa’s farms are achieving impressive results. For example, through our Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program, our support reached 11 million farmers in 28 countries in a little over two years. The program is delivering climate-smart seeds, fertilizers and technical support allowing farmers to harvest higher yields of wheat, corn, rice and other staples. African food production has increased by more than 12 million metric tons.”
But Adesina added that the loss of imports from Ukraine and the increasing cost of fertilizer are making “the cost of bread beyond the reach of many Africans.”
The African Development Bank, he said, has developed an Africa Emergency Food Production Plan.
“Our $1.5 billion plan will be used to support African countries to produce food rapidly – produce 38 million metric tons of food, in fact. The total value of the additional food production is $12 billion. The Africa Emergency Food Production Plan will deliver climate-resilient agricultural technologies to 20 million farmers. The $1.5 billion plan intends to source $1.3 billion of our own resources. With U.S. support to reduce the $200 million financing gap, we can ensure the Africa Emergency Food Production Plan’s success.”
The Senate has not yet taken up the Ukraine supplemental bill, but Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., noted earlier this week that the House-passed bill contains $5 billion for food aid.
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The House Agriculture Committee today approved six bills dealing with markets and conservation on a bipartisan basis.