EC and UN partner agencies signed their first contribution agreements under the EU € 1 billion “Food Facility”

Director-General of EuropeAid Co-operation Office, Koos Richelle, signed, on behalf of the European Commission, on May 15th 2009, the first contribution agreements of the Food Facility with three UN implementing partners: FAO (€106M), UNRWA (€ 39.6M) and UNICEF (€8.2M). Similar contribution agreements with the World Food Programme (€38.7M), and UNOPS (€ 10M) are expected to be finalised shortly, to be followed by agreements with the World Bank, IFAD and UNDP.

The agreements signed DG of EuropeAid Co-operation Office, Koos Richelle, are financed under the € 1 billion Food Facility, which will support actions implemented by International Organisations, recipient governments and regional organisations. Also under this facility a €200 million call for proposals will be launched on the 26th May 2009, to finance projects to be implemented by NGOs, EU member states development agencies and local authorities active in 35 priority countries.

The five UN agencies, which include FAO (€106M), UNRWA (€ 39.6M) and UNICEF (€8.2M), the World Food Programme (€38.7M), and UNOPS (€ 10M), with which the Commission is to sign implementing agreements of the Food Facility are recognised for their sectoral and area-specific expertise in the field of food security. They have consulted local governments, NGOs and stakeholders during the identification of projects in order to ensure true ownership.

The signature of these agreements underlines the importance of the European Union as the world's first donor in improving food security across the globe. As European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Mr. Louis Michel stressed before the signature of such agreements, it is time for the EU to match its words with concrete action, in a context where the combined effects of the financial and food crises negatively impact developing countries. Commissioner Michel also pointed out that “projects to be funded will impact positively on the lives of millions of the poorest people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East”.

The agreements refer to actions agreed within the framework of the 1st financing decision by the Commission on the Food Facility which provides support to projects and programmes in 23 developing countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burma/Myanmar, Burundi, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe.

The overall plan for the implementation of the Food Facility contains a list of 50 target countries which will receive assistance during a three year period. Support will be provided through International Organisations, Regional Organisations and national governments as well as a Call for Proposals for activities by Non-States Actors, Member States bodies and other eligible implementing actors.

These agreements are a testimony to EU's fruitful partnership with the UN and WB, which was re-enforced in the reaction to the global food crisis.

Concrete examples of projects financed within the framework of the agreements signed include:

  • Access to agricultural inputs (FAO) : in Zimbabwe, seeds and fertilisers and training are expected to be provided to 150.000 vulnerable rural households and should result in increased cereal yield within the next agricultural season for 10 to 15% of communal farmers in the country.
  • Safety net measures (WFP) :  in Bangladesh, employment generating projects targeting 78.000 ultra poor rural households will improve irrigation and infrastructure and flood protection assets, thereby stimulating both agricultural supply (by boosting agricultural productivity) and demand (through cash transfers).
  • Measures designed to reduce acute malnutrition rates (UNICEF): in Mali, the Food Facility will allow the distribution of appropriate treatment of 30.000 severely malnourished children and the training of two and a half million mothers, caretakers and young children on best feeding practices.