Threat to millions as food aid scheme runs out of money

Faced with the dramatically spiralling costs of wheat, rice and corn, the World Food Programme has made an unprecedented appeal for at least $500m (£250m) to help it continue supplying food aid to 73 million needy people this year.

Josette Sheeran, the organisation's executive director, told journalists yesterday that this was the first time in its history that the WFP had appealed for funds, not because of a crisis caused by famine or war but because of market conditions. And she warned that if extra resources were not received before the beginning of May, food rations would have to be cut.

"This is the new face of hunger," she said. "People are simply being priced out of food markets. It's the first time we have been hit by a dramatic market surprise. We have never before had a situation where aggressive rises in food prices keep pricing our operations out of our reach."

The WFP estimates that food prices rose by 55 per cent between June and the end of February, meaning it needed an extra $500m on top of the $2.9bn it had already budgeted for. However, prices have risen a further 20 per cent in the past three weeks, meaning the organisation's emergency shortfall could, in reality, be closer to $700m.

"It's a situation that is changing nearly every day. We used to adjust our basic food prices every year or two but now it's weekly or even daily because the changes are so quick and, unfortunately, all seem to go in the same direction," said Ms Sheeran.

She warned that if donors did not stump up: "We will see the scaling back of operations in the next months – each operation will need to be scaled back. There could be quite a dramatic effect on the number of people we are able to provide with food."

Rice last week jumped to a three-decade high, experiencing the same sort of spike that has already affected wheat, corn and soybeans. The price of these staple foods has been driven skywards by increased demand for food from the newly prospering parts of south and east Asia, damage to crops by natural disasters, and by the growing demand for biofuels. "It's a global phenomenon which is hitting the most vulnerable populations hard," Ms Sheeran said.

In Bangladesh, those on a dollar a day are dropping the protein element of their diet because they can only afford the basic staple rice. "And even those earning $2 a day are forced into coping strategies which could lead to a malnutrition crisis," Ms Sheeran said. "They are giving up health or educational needs to get a basic food budget."

It is the people eking out an existence on 50 cents per day that are suffering most, however, like people in some parts of El Salvador who have been forced to halve their nutritional intake. "We now have a situation where there's a lot of food on the shelves but people cannot afford it," Ms Sheeran said.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, wrote in an editorial in the Washington Post: "The new face of hunger is increasingly affecting communities that had previously been protected. The 'bottom billion', people living on one dollar a day or less ... do one of two things: they buy less food, or they buy cheaper, less nutritious food. The result is the same: more hunger and less chance of a healthy future."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Assessor

£26000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: SAP Assessor Job T...

Derivatives Risk Commodities Business Analyst /Market Risk

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Derivatives Risk Commodities Business A...

Power & Gas Business Analyst / Subject Matter Expert - Contract

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Power & Gas Business Analyst/Subject Ma...

Year 6 Teacher needed for 1 Term- Worthing!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 6 larger then life teach...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering