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Afghanistan: Massive Funding Shortage for Fighting Hunger

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The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the lead agency for fighting hunger, is reporting a $257 million funding shortage for its mission in Afghanistan. There are 7.3 million people in Afghanistan considered food insecure and cannot access basic foods on a daily basis.

A press release issued today said, “shortfalls in specialized nutrition products have also forced WFP to reduce the number of children under five that it can assist – down from 62,000 per month to about 40,000 per month.”  This shortage includes supplementary plumpy, a food used to treat dangerous malnutrition levels in children.

Without proper nutrition in the first years of life, children can suffer lasting physical and mental damage. In Afghanistan WFP reports, “More than half of children under the age of five are malnourished.”

WFP also says if the funding shortage continues, it will begin to scale back activities including school feeding which currently reaches a million Afghan children. Without new funding, WFP may be forced to suspend part of its mission this summer. The agency relies on voluntary funding from the international community.

WFP Afghanistan Country Director Louis Imbleau says, “We are making this appeal to give us the best possible chance of plugging the looming gaps in supply. Food security is the bedrock of development in this country – especially for the youngest and most vulnerable.” Once a donation is made, it can take several months for the cash to translate into delivered food, depending on the shipping method.

There are also the 600,000 street children in Afghanistan who are in need of a full ration program. This is a critical step for rehabilitating these children and getting them the foundation to reenter the education system. These children need to be off the streets and in school with a meal and take-home ration program. Last year WFP began partnering with the Aschiana Foundation on take-home rations for 2,000 street children.

The funding shortage comes at a time when the U.S. Congress is planning to reduce international food aid, this despite the fact that peace and development in Afghanistan and other countries hinge on food security.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.