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WFP: China's commitment not affected by crisis
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16:47, March 06, 2009

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The UN World Food Program China chief is confident that the financial crisis will not affect China's cooperation with the world's largest humanitarian organization as the Chinese government realizes that it is a long-term relationship.

WFP has got export quota from China for WFP's projects in other countries and also hopes China's experience in reducing its own poverty and hunger will help other developing countries, said Ms. Anthea Webb, Director of WFP China, in an interview with People's Daily Online at the opening ceremony of the WFP-China 30-Year Cooperation exhibition on March 3.

The 10 day exhibition is held at the shopping mall of the five-star World Trade Center in Beijing's CBD (central business district). Ms. Webb hopes that the exhibition would remind people who can afford to buy there of the fact that there are many people in need and that they can help.

Li Ning, an Olympic Champion who lit the torch for Beijing 2008 Olympics, went to Lesotho three months ago as the special envoy of WFP and witnessed the distribution of China's food aid to this African country. He appealed that "there are 1 billion people who are still suffering from hunger around the world; hunger can be defeated by the joint efforts of the whole world."

Yao Xiangjun, deputy director-general of the Department of International Cooperation in the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), described the cooperation between China and WFP in last 30 years as "effective and successful" and promised China's continuous support to WFP.

Ms. Webb disclosed that WFP was about to publish a paper focusing on China's policies that had led to the country's success in feeding its people over the past 30 years.

The most important lesson that other developing country can learn from China, remarked Ms. Webb, is the 100 percent government commitment to solving hunger.

She thinks that China is the most recent proof that "it is possible to fight poverty and hunger," hoping China would become the most important supporter of "helping people help themselves".

WFP was part of that progress. From 1979 to 2005, WFP worked closely with the Chinese government to provide nearly 4 million metric tons of food valued 1 billion USD for 30 million people in China.

China began to donate to WFP even before the end of 2005 when WFP stopped giving food aid to China as the country had made remarkable achievements on poverty reduction. The first major donation was for the Tsunami in Southeast Asia.

China has increased its donation to WFP since 2006. According to WFP, China donated 10 million USD to WFP and worked with WFP in eight Asian and African countries in 2008, such as Laos, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Lesotho. WFP had received 30 million USD cash donation from China by the end of 2008.

WFP is grateful for China's unconditional aid, which allows WFP to "use the money in an efficient and effective way", commented Ms. Webb. Some of the money was used to buy food in the countries which need help so that farmers and people in hunger both benefited.

Lesotho Ambassdor to China Anthony Thibeli expressed gratitude to WFP and China's aid to this drought-hit country.

China can also learn the method of providing development assistance and emergency aid from WFP. Ms. Webb noted that China could draw on WFP's way of tracking food, "knowing where every bag is", which is very important to keep donors' trust.

Ms. Webb stressed that better life based on better education was possible when hunger and poverty were reduced because once people get satisfied with their basic needs, "they tend to move on".

The amount of money required is "really small but very important". The amount that "some banks are losing every day," said Ms. Webb, is enough to provide food for "every hungry child in schools around the world."

WFP needs 60 billion USD for its program in 2008 to help 90 million people.

By People's Daily Online

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