Thank you, Mr. President.
Congratulations, Mr. President (Shobhan Pattanayak, Minister Counselor, Republic of India) and all the other newly elected members of the Executive Board Bureau. The United States looks forward to working closely with you to advance collectively our efforts against world hunger. And we express our utmost gratitude for the outstanding leadership of (UK) Ambassador Jim Harvey during the last half of 2011.
And a special thank you to Madame Executive Director for her fireside chat and for the overview of challenges and successes. We congratulate you on the many far-reaching achievements during your tenure as Executive Director and we thank you and your entire team for their continued dedication and hard work. WFP has indeed transformed, and we are already witnessing a better, more flexible and agile WFP in the field during these fast moving times. Your leadership has been instrumental in this transformation, and we tip our hat to you.
The U.S. has also embarked on a new, transformational programming to improve the way we do business.
We know from the recent Horn of Africa drought and the rising crisis in the Sahel that we need to continue our fierce focus on combating hunger with smart tools, flexible approaches and well-coordinated integrated programming that enhances nutrition, improves targeting and builds resilience in the face of recurring shocks. We all need to stay enjoined in the mission together, and that is one reason I am so pleased to be here today.
Of note, USAID’s in kind food assistance program is undergoing its largest transformation since its inception in 1954. We are applying the best of nutrition science, targeting the special nutritional needs of vulnerable groups with a focus on women and children under 2. Nine (9) new or reformulated products are on line or coming on line in the next 18 months. This includes new ready to use therapeutic and supplementary foods, better fortification of blended foods and an improved micronutrient reformulation for milled grains and vegetable oil. These products as well as those being developed in conjunction with WFP and a number of very visionary private sector partnerships such as with PepsiCo, WFP and USAID in Ethiopia will ensure the most nutrition-smart products are available for those most in need.
In addition to offering better ‘in-kind’ food products, since 2010, USAID is among the largest cash providers for food assistance programs in the world. We are using our $300 million emergency food security account to buy local and regional food products and to support innovative voucher and cash transfer programs that take advantage of cell phone technology and mobile banking to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. We have enthusiastically supported WFP’s expanded efforts to do the same even as we remain mindful of the need not to expand too rapidly as we refine and integrate these new tools with in kind food.
Our aim is also to see our emergency programs increasingly targeted in ways that improve enhance effectiveness. I understand that in Mogadishu, WFP general food distributions for displaced families are being replaced by referral systems to allow those families with malnourished children to receive a family ration in a more private setting — rather than having them standing in long public lines where distributions had previously provoked violence and looting of food aid. This innovation is welcome, addressing twin goals of improved targeting and protection.
And we are also very pleased that, after seven years of experience and analysis around protection-sensitive programming, and drawing on best practices, the Board will approve later today WFP’s first humanitarian protection policy. The U.S. has been committed to WFP’s Protection Project since its 2005 launch, and we will strongly endorse its approval and expanded implementation in the field.
Importantly, we are supporting WFP efforts to build resilience in emergency settings. We have seen encouraging results in the arid and semi arid lands of Kenya to link food transfers with asset protection and creation activities that help vulnerable groups withstand climactic and other shocks, and build a strong base for development programs. We need a holistic approach and continuous attention that builds resiliency and builds stronger communities that can withstand future disasters such as droughts in the Horn of Africa or the megacrises that have become all too regular since the 2004 tsunami. We applaud WFP’s efforts to bring this approach into the mainstream in WFP especially as part of a broader attention to disaster risk reduction.
We know that as we continue our enduring humanitarian commitment to feed those in crises, we must do so in a way that helps families move from crisis to a productive, peaceful life with dignity. We know we must continue to press for all the innovations and linkages that enable us to promote real solutions for hunger. We encourage WFP to continue your active dialogue with all stakeholders – families, communities, local and national governments, NGO and UN partners and the private sector – to unleash the power of collaboration.
Madame Executive Director, as you heard in our List D statement, we recognize the important work WFP has accomplished under your tenure. The United States again extends it heartfelt appreciation and thanks for your vision, leadership, and unfailing service to humanity. We look forward to continuing our partnership in your new role as Vice Chair of the World Economic Forum, look forward to continue hearing your voice and to seeing the red cup.
Thank you, Mr. President.