Last food aid arrives in China as country turns from recipient to donor

A 25-year-long $1-billion United Nations aid programme for China that fed over 30 million people drew to a close today with the arrival of a final shipment of grain, and a senior UN official urged the world’s most populous country to now step up support for hundreds of millions of malnourished people beyond its borders.

“This final cargo is above all a tribute to China’s singular success in alleviating hunger at home,” World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director James Morris said as the MV Blue Dream docked in the southeastern city of Shenzhen. “China is now one of the world’s leaders in fighting hunger – this is a truly historic moment.”

“WFP has phased out assistance to more than two dozen countries over the past 10 years, but China’s transition is by far the most significant. We need China’s help and resources to apply the crucial lessons learned here to other countries still struggling with hunger,” he added.

The wheat, valued at $7.2 million, is to be distributed to more than 400,000 poor farmers and their families to support food-for-work schemes in four provinces: Gansu, Guangxi, Ningxia and Shanxi. Over 60 per cent will be women and children.

“This last shipment represents a turning point in our relationship with China,” WFP country representative Douglas Broderick said. “Having fed 30 million people over a quarter of a century, WFP now looks to Beijing to share its expertise and commitment.”

Since 1979, WFP has provided China with aid valued at almost $1 billion, helping millions of vulnerable people in remote central and western regions meet their immediate food needs and create community assets. These include roads, irrigation networks and drinking water systems.

Some 300 million Chinese have been propelled out of poverty over the same period, a hugely impressive achievement underpinned by the country’s rapid development into one of the world’s most dynamic and competitive economies.

China has already provided funding to help WFP feed hungry people elsewhere in Asia and in Africa. Earlier this year it pledged $1 million for emergency food aid to needy survivors of the tsunami that devastated large areas around the Indian Ocean last December.

“China’s leaders acknowledge that hunger and poverty are root causes of conflict and instability around the world, and are committed to advancing the development of poor countries,” Mr. Broderick said.

From United Nations

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