WB launches $1.2b facility for food crisis

Kathmandu, May 30:

• Agricultural support to increase to $6 billion.

The World Bank Group announced today it would support global efforts to overcome the global food crisis with a new $1.2 billion rapid financing facility to address immediate needs, including $200 million in grants targeted at the vulnerable in the world’s poorest countries.

Announcing several measures to address immediate to longer-term food challenges, the World Bank Group said it would boost its overall support for global agriculture and food to $6 billion next year up from $4 billion and would launch risk management tools, and crop insurance to protect poor countries and small-holders.

“As we go into the Rome meeting next week, it is crucial that we focus on specific action. Along with our partners, these initiatives will help address the immediate danger of hunger and malnutrition for the two billion people struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices and contribute to a longer-term solution that must involve many countries and institutions,” said World Bank Group president Robert B Zoellick.

Grants for Djibouti ($5 million), Haiti ($10 million), and Liberia ($10 million) are being approved today. Over the coming month, the World Bank expects to provide grant support to Togo, Yemen and Tajikistan. These countries have been identified as high priority based on rapid needs assessments undertaken in the field with the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Rapid needs assessments have now been completed in more than 25 countries, with another 15 ongoing.

The $1.2 billion facility, which is designed to address immediate needs, supports safety net programmes such as food for work, conditional cash transfers and school feeding programmes for the most vulnerable. It provides support for food production – this year and beyond — by supplying seeds and fertilizer, improving irrigation for small-scale farmers and providing budget support to offset tariff reductions for food and other unexpected costs.

As part of the new facility the World Bank is also establishing a Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) to facilitate policy and operational co-ordination among donors and leverage financial support for the rapid delivery of seeds and fertilizer to small farmers for the upcoming planting season.