WFP GOODWILL AMBASSADOR PRINCESS HAYA BACKS FOOD AID’S DUAL ROLE IN ETHIOPIA
ADDIS ABABA – Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein today congratulated donors for their generosity and urged them to continue their support for food aid, following a visit to projects run by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Ethiopia. She reiterated that food aid was more vital than ever in saving lives and helping millions of people out of poverty.
Princess Haya, a WFP Goodwill Ambassador, was speaking after a field visit to East Shoa in central Ethiopia on Sunday, 12 February. She said the people she met in Ethiopia clearly needed food aid and other assistance to survive crises and build a better future for themselves. One African in three is chronically malnourished.
"These people are proud people, and don't want to live on handouts. It is heartbreaking to see that they are having to rely on our compassion. It is even more heartbreaking that we don't have more of it. Hunger is the very worst companion to live with. It is possible and feasible to break the circle of poverty, but it is only a matter of making it a priority to the rest of the world," she stressed.
Princess Haya travelled to WFP’s projects in Adama district in Oromiya which are aimed at combating land degradation in chronically food insecure areas to help cut food shortages, increase incomes and improve people’s ability to cope when drought strikes.
In exchange for food provided by WFP, men and women are building dams and canals, planting trees and seedlings and re-terracing mountain slopes. Food aid is being used to turn once-barren landscape into green, fertile and productive land.
“In Ethiopia, a combination of complex factors every year leave thousands upon thousands of people struggling to find enough food to eat, clean water to drink and proper medicines to take. Yet, as I have seen today, real efforts are being made by people to rebuild their own lives, to find lasting solutions that will help them become self reliant and independent,” Princess Haya said.
Princess Haya met men and women who had been working side-by-side, using spades and pickaxes, to restore their environment and enhance their livelihoods, in exchange for food assistance from WFP.
She also met beneficiaries at a project where WFP food is used as an incentive for trained volunteers to provide home-based care to people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.
“HIV / AIDS compounds the existing high levels of poverty and food insecurity for people already struggling to survive in Ethiopia. But when chronically sick patients, orphans, HIV-positive pregnant and feeding women and people living with HIV/AIDS are provided with food, nutritional information and support from trained care-givers from within their own communities, their quality of life can improve markedly,” said WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Ethiopia, Mohamed Diab, who accompanied Princess Haya on her visit and thanked her for bringing attention to the humanitarian needs of so many people in Ethiopia.
He also went on to thank the donor community in Ethiopia. “Donors supported WFP’s activities very generously in 2005. Through these contributions, WFP has been able to continue with its portfolio of recovery programmes in Ethiopia. These complement our emergency interventions and really do help communities in their transition to sustainability and self-sufficiency,” said Diab.
Despite a generally good harvest at the end of 2005, some 2.6 million people in Ethiopia will still require emergency assistance in 2006. The majority of these people are in drought-hit southern Ethiopia. In addition, more than seven million people are chronically short of food and will receive food and cash transfers in exchange for their work in community-based schemes.
This is the second field visit that Princess Haya has conducted since her appointment as WFP’s Goodwill Ambassador. Princess Haya traveled to Malawi in December and will be continuing her field visits to other hunger stricken areas over the coming few months.
Princess Haya was appointed a WFP Goodwill Ambassador in October, and is the first Arab and the first woman to take up this position. Her appointment was supported by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, making her the second Goodwill Ambassador ever for WFP, after Senator George McGovern.
Princess Haya also established the first food aid NGO in the Arab world, “Tkiyet Um Ali” -- a unique initiative she founded in Jordan to provide food aid and social services to the poor.
WFP’s budget for its relief and recovery operation in Ethiopia for a three-year period, from January 2005 to December 2007, is US$763 million.
Recent donations have come from the United States (US$9 million), the European Commission (US$6 million), Luxembourg (US$808,808), Finland (US$352,942), Switzerland (US$33,733), Japan (US$26,011) and the Netherlands (US$16,053).