U.S. Statement given by Deputy Chief of Mission Jennifer Harhigh at the opening of the November WFP Executive Board

November 18, 2019

  • Thank you Mr. President and Executive Director for your thoughtful remarks and comprehensive presentations.  Ambassador Tom apologizes, he wanted to be here, but is on his way to participate in a Senate Hearing regarding the U.S. role in the UN system.
  • Executive Director Beasley, we all have witnessed the phenomenon of increasing hunger around the globe over the past two years.  WFP is responding to humanitarian crises that are lasting longer and are ever more complex.  We applaud your leadership in thoughtfully confronting these challenges while addressing the world’s largest food crises, and we also applaud the entire staff of WFP for your unfailing dedication to feeding the world’s hungry in the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances.
  • We gained particular appreciation for the ever more complex challenges WFP faces through a visit Ambassador Tom led to Zimbabwe just last month. On that visit, we witnessed communities where USAID and WFP were making significant progress in improving resilience and capacity building in farming systems driven by U.S. contributions of over $3 billion over the past three decades.  This year alone the United States will contribute nearly $90 million in aid and another $11 million to build capacity in farming systems.  In other communities, where cash distributions and in-kind aid was the only option, people remain desperate to feed their families. The expectation is nearly 5.5 million people will be food insecure during the lean season.  We can and must do better.  Our focus needs to be on creating capacity, and a shared voice from WFP and FAO needs to encourage country leaders to advance public policy in order to leverage all forms of agriculture systems, and to include modern innovations like mechanization and biotech if we are ever going to achieve meaningful progress on the Human Development Nexus and build lasting capacity and resilience.
  • In the face of such sobering realities, it is important we also recognize the opportunities we have in front of us to face these challenges by working better together.  Now, more than ever, is a time to strengthen existing partnerships and forge new ones.  Executive Director Beasley, we share your view that ensuring a respectful and safe working environment for all employees is critical to WFP goals and success. We appreciate your continued leadership on that front.
  • As the Executive Director said, The United States is the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance, but we cannot meet the growing needs on our own.  We need others to join us in these efforts.  We welcome the increased contributions many have already made to humanitarian assistance efforts in recent years and we encourage others to step forward.
  • We believe that meaningful partnership within the United Nations is key to achieving operational efficiencies, forging productive links between humanitarian and development actors, and embracing the spirit of coordination over competition.  With this goal in mind, the United States is actively supporting WFP’s strategic and operational engagement with UNHCR, UNICEF, and, of course, FAO and IFAD here in Rome. We hope this leads to more efficient and effective responses, and better outcomes for beneficiaries.
  • More broadly, WFP relies on an extensive network of partners, both international and local, to deliver assistance.  With the aim of further strengthening that partnership, the United States is supporting WFP to harmonize and standardize corporate procedures for NGO partner management.
  • Few would question we are in a time of transition.  In the humanitarian sector, we welcome the new and different stakeholders offering innovative approaches and tools.  The United States supports WFP’s efforts to engage with partners from the private sector in order to find lasting solutions to the world’s persistent food crises.
  • In closing, reflecting on our shared partnership on school feeding, we applaud WFP’s continued efforts to expand the number of children receiving meals at school, and we look forward to further strengthening governments’ capacities to take over the programs and make them sustainable for the future.

 

Thank you.