Opening Remarks by Assistant Secretary of State Bathsheba Crocker at the WFP Executive Board

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Bathsheba Crocker and AMbassador David Lane at the World Food Program

May 25, 2015

I’m Sheba Crocker, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, and am honored to be able to participate in this session of the Board, especially at a time when global crises are demanding more and more from WFP.

We’re here today because the World Food Program is a valued partner for each of our countries.  I would like to begin by thanking the women and men of WFP for the inspiring contribution they make every day to feeding people in desperate need around the world.  I saw this first hand in the wake of the devastating 2004 Asian tsunami, when I was working on the UN’s recovery effort.  WFP was at the forefront of the response effort in Aceh and other hard-hit places.  Today, WFP is on the front lines in places like Syria, Yemen, Nepal, Somalia, and not least in Ebola-affected West Africa, where we are pleased to see a fragile but improving situation.

Ambassador Lane had the opportunity to visit South Sudan with Executive Director Cousin this past March.  They saw the outstanding work WFP staff are still doing to overcome the daunting challenges of moving food and other relief items to some of the hardest hit places on earth, in the face of persistent violence and bloodshed.  And yet, despite WFP’s courageous efforts and impressive results in highly difficult circumstances, the challenge of funding still looms large.

In 2014, the American people gave more than $2 billion in assistance to help WFP meet food security needs around the globe.  Despite our contribution, the contributions of other donors, and WFP’s own efforts to improve efficiency, the organization continues to face enormous resource shortfalls in many of its programs.  In fact, WFP faces another looming funding crisis in Syria and in the surrounding countries.

As WFP’s donors and Executive Board members, we can and must help the organization overcome this challenge.  First, the United States appeals to each of your governments to give more to WFP in 2015 to help the organization meet the food needs of those suffering under the world’s worst humanitarian crises.  And second, we all need to lend greater support to the WFP leadership’s efforts to develop new and innovative sources of financing, to achieve greater operational efficiency, and to continue its focus on improving monitoring and evaluation.

I also want to take this opportunity to say a few words on advancing gender equality and the status of women and girls – a long-standing priority for the United States.  As we all know, engaging women and girls is necessary to achieving world food security, and we appreciate the attention and energy that Executive Director Cousin and WFP have given to gender over the past three years, from using sex and age disaggregated data to design and implement programs, to creating a gender policy, to improving female representation within WFP’s staff.

I am here today, both personally and on behalf of the United States Government, to thank the thousands of men and women of WFP for the assistance they deliver every day to people and families in desperate need of emergency assistance.  Your work and dedication are life-saving, humbling, and inspiring.