14 December 2004 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian agency, and China – the world’s most populous country – have marked 25 years of partnership with a landmark agreement to combat global hunger with increased Chinese funding and expertise.
“Having lifted 300 million of its own people out of poverty in less than a generation – surely one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century – China has now pledged to commit more of its considerable resources to helping us help those in desperate need elsewhere,” WFP Executive Director James Morris said in Beijing at the end of a five-day visit today.
“We are very grateful for these vital and timely undertakings, and look forward to developing a long-term, mutually rewarding partnership that reflects our shared vision of a world free of hunger,” he added.
In addition to a promise of increased Chinese funding, both sides are working on an agreement that would make China’s expertise and talent available to strengthen WFP’s capacity to respond to sudden food emergencies. Frequently afflicted by natural disasters such as flooding, drought and earthquakes, China has developed exemplary capabilities to manage the consequences, the agency said.
Mr. Morris met with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing as well as visiting the western province of Gansu, where WFP and the Government are implementing a range of joint poverty alleviation projects.
The Chinese Government has been an increasingly strong supporter of WFP’s work at home and abroad. This year it has committed $20 million to support the agency’s programme in China, the bulk of it in the form of counterpart food assistance. It has also pledged $1.25 million for WFP operations elsewhere.
Mr. Morris said Mr. Wen stressed that China was strongly committed to advancing the development of poor countries in cooperation with multilateral organizations like WFP.
“There are more than 800 million people around the world suffering from chronic hunger. It claims 25,000 lives every day,” Mr. Morris added. “Imagine the horror of 60 fully-laden jumbo jets crashing today, with children 70 per cent of the fatalities. That’s the scale of the problem we’re trying to address.”
He said today’s “increasingly wealthy world is well able to deal” with the problem, adding, “Yet the battle is being lost.”