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14 March 2018

Together for a world without hunger: Sweden commits US$370 million to WFP

Zahra and Mohammed are competing over who makes the bigger balloon. Originally from Syria’s Aleppo, they are today refugees in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley.

WFP/ Joelle Eid

Sweden and the UN World Food Programme have entered a landmark agreement that will bring hope to millions of people trapped by war and displacement crises.

With a new Strategic Partnership Agreement, signed in February between WFP and Sweden, the Government of Sweden steps up for a zero hunger world.

With the agreement, Sweden has made a commitment of US$370 million in flexible funds to WFP over the next four years. The contribution comes at a time when the world is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II, and when the number of hungry people is increasing for the first time in a decade.

Flexible funds – ensuring a rapid response

Flexible funding is critical to enhance WFP’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to emergencies and increase its agility to best manage programmes and make strategic decisions. Sweden has consistently been one of the biggest donors of flexible funding for the last ten years. Flexible funding makes emergency response possible – both as preparedness ahead of a potential disaster and as the disaster occurs. This allows WFP to act swiftly, thereby saving more lives. Furthermore, Sweden empowers WFP to allocate life-saving funds where they are most needed, making it possible for WFP to reach the most vulnerable people in some of the world’s forgotten crises.

“The people and the government of Sweden help us bring hope to millions of people, including the most vulnerable people caught up in some of the world’s most heart-breaking crises. When it comes to saving lives and changing lives, Sweden is a global leader,’’ said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, and Vice-Prime Minister signs the Strategic Partnership Agreement with WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley in Stockholm February 2018. The agreement runs between 2018-2021 and is the most generous Strategic Partnership Agreement for flexible funding that WFP has ever signed.

Photo by Jonathan Eng/WFP. All Rights Reserved.

Partnerships for achievement

The partnership with Sweden entails more than funding. It is a joint commitment to working together on policy issues. Sweden is a much-appreciated partner and plays an important role as advocate for humanitarian principles, gender equality, climate change and environmental sustainability, among others. Furthermore, with the new partnership agreement, there is an even stronger focus on results and accountability.

Overall, the world has achieved significant gains during the last 25 years in reducing hunger and undernutrition. Still, 815 million people go to bed hungry every night, which is an increase of 38 million people in just the last year. The reason is mainly man-made conflicts. Most of the world’s hungry people live in countries affected by war and conflict, with ten of the thirteen largest food crises currently driven by violence and insecurity. The increase in the number of hungry people has alarmed WFP, its partners and the wider humanitarian community.

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 – Zero Hunger – by 2030 is possible, but only if peaceful and inclusive societies are secured. Sweden’s commitment for peace building and conflict prevention is a welcomed initiative and a necessity for ending wars, violence and insecurity.  The call for peace mediation and conflict prevention comes timely, and together with the flexible funding, Sweden takes important steps towards Zero Hunger.

Gisele receives the nutritional porridge called Super Cereal Plus for her son Jordan every week. The porridge is part of WFP’s nutrition programme in Kigeme refugee camp, Rwanda.

Photo by Jonathan Eng/WFP. All Rights Reserved.

Saving Lives, Changing lives

Gisele Nyragisaninka and her son Jordan fled conflict and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In recent years, they have received cash-based food assistance and nutrition support from WFP in a refugee camp in Rwanda. Thanks to flexible funds from donors such as Sweden, WFP has been able to meet the needs of people like Gisele who have been caught up in this protracted crisis.

“We can live wherever there is peace,’’ says Gisele. She is thankful for the help she receives, which is the only lifeline for her and her family. They used to live a good life in DRC and owned their own store. Conflict forced them to flee, and they lost their home, livelihood and income. Cash-based food assistance means that Gisele receives her food assistance as money on a credit card. She can then choose what to buy for her family and where she wants to buy it. Cash-based assistance gives a sense of normality and provides people with choices. This is a way of changing the lives of people caught in protected crises.

Sweden’s leadership in providing flexible funding stands out at a time when more than 90 percent of government contributions to WFP are earmarked for specific operations or activities, which limits WFP in directing resources strategically. In addition to its consistent funding, Sweden stands as one of WFP’s strongest advocates for reduced earmarking among donors. Under the agreement known as the Grand Bargain, concluded at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, Sweden and other leading donors committed to progressively reduce earmarking. The aim is to achieve a global target of 30 percent of humanitarian funding that is un-earmarked or softly earmarked by 2020 to enhance efficiency in humanitarian response.

“Sweden is the best of the best when it comes to flexible funding and has stepped up and given us US$370 million for the next four years,’’ said Beasley during a recent seminar in Stockholm. “Sweden’s extremely generous contribution provides WFP with one of the largest amounts of flexible and predictable funding any country has ever given us, enabling us to save lives at any given place and at any given time.”

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