Once a country just on the receiving end of international assistance, Indiais playing an increasing and important role in assuring food security forSouth Asia, particularly in Afghanistan, a senior official of the UnitedNations World Food Programme (WFP) said following meetings with the country’s Government.
“From being a net recipient in 2000, the Government of India is presentlythe 15th largest donor to the World Food Programme in 2005,” said Tony Banbury, WFP’sAsia Regional Director. “This speaks volumes about India’s increasingimportance in confronting global challenges such as hunger, malnutrition andilliteracy in South Asia and around the world.” Mr. Banbury also noted the important role of food assistance in maintainingsecurity in India’s neighboring countries of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar andPakistan.
In the last three years, India has made donations worth approximately $52million to help assist the children in Afghanistan and Iraq to come back andattend schools. Nearly 2 million children benefit from this contribution. “Funding for our food aid programmes in Nepal, in Sri Lanka, and inPakistan, continue to be a challenge,” said Mr. Banbury. “I am concernedthat any reductions in these feeding operations can undermine recovery andfoster insecurity in these neighboring states to India.”
Mr. Banbury has been visiting India for a week, traveling to flood-devastated Rajastan and to Gujarat to visit WFP-supported projects forthe rural poor of India. He noted the benefits of many of these pilotprogrammes in bringing improvements to the lives of the rural poor, notingthat thanks to the partnership between the agency and the Government, “WFPprovides fortified food to some 2 million children and pregnant andlactating women in remote tribal areas of India where malnutrition is at itsworst.”
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