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UK announces extra funds to feed the hungry

Britain has announced additional funding of more than US $12 million to address the growing food needs in drought-stricken Malawi and Zambia.

A fourth year of drought has left more than six million people battling food shortages that will continue until April 2006 in parts of both southern African countries.

Responding to a new food shortage assessment, which indicates that almost five million Malawians are in need of food aid, Hilary Benn, UK Secretary of State for International Development, told the House of Commons on Thursday that the government was boosting its aid to almost $32 million.

"This additional money will be used to assist the Malawi government's emergency feeding operation, buying pulses and oil to ensure that people get enough micro-nutrients and protein in their food rations," he said. The funds will also support UN agencies and NGOs in identifying and treating acute malnutrition in children aged under five.

Benn confirmed an additional amount of about $7 million for humanitarian support to Zambia, where 1.4 million people in the Southern, Western and Eastern provinces face food shortages until the next harvest in March/April 2006.

Most of the new funding - about $5 million - will go to the UN's World Food Programme for emergency food aid distributions to 200,000 households. More than $800,000 will help NGOs distribute urgently needed vegetable seeds to 20,000 households, and a similar amount will be used to identify and treat acute malnutrition, said Benn.

The latest contribution brings the UK Department for International Development's commitment to tackling food shortages and other emergency needs in Southern Africa to over $112 million this year. More than 11.4 million people in Southern Africa are likely to face food shortages and will be in need of assistance until April 2006.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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