The World Food Program says a large funding shortfall is forcing it to cut some of the rations to three and a half million people across Sudan. The WFP says it’s taking the action as a last resort.
Penny Ferguson is a spokesperson for the UN agency. From Khartoum, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the ration cuts: “The rations that we’re cutting are a segment of the rations in the general food distribution. The items are pulses, sugar and salt. Generally, these items are being cut in half. They don’t form the major component of the rations. Other items such as cereals, vegetable oil and blended fortified foods are still intact at a hundred percent. But obviously we’re very disappointed that we’re forced to make this move with the other items.”
Ferguson explains the effects the ration cuts will have. “It’s twofold. Any cut in a ration item means you upset the nutritional balance. And people such as the displaced people in Darfur, who’ve essentially got no other access to food, that nutritional upset is really quite serious. It decreases the calorific value of the rations. And there’s also a second impact, which is of course the psychological impact,” she says.
The emergency operation for Sudan required $746 million this year. “It’s the biggest and most expensive relief effort that WFP is making worldwide. And we’ve so far had a slow response from donors to the appeal this year. Towards the end of February we had only four percent of the funds that we needed. That’s now gone up to 15 percent, thanks to a generous donation from the US, but we’re still critically short of the money that we need,” she says.
The total US contribution to the effort is $114 million.