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3-Food: WFP delivers non-GE food aid to Zambia

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TITLE:  WFP delivers non GM food aid
SOURCE: IRIN News, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
DATE:   Jan 30, 2003

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ZAMBIA: WFP delivers non GM food aid

JOHANNESBURG, 30 Jan 2003 (IRIN) - The World Food Programme (WFP)
expected to deliver a total of 80,000 mt of non-genetically modified (GM)
food aid to Zambia, which had rejected GM maize brought in earlier.

Aid agencies estimate that 2.9 million Zambians will need food aid up to
the next harvest in March/April this year.

A UN Resident Coordinator's report recently said the outlook for 2003 was
"daunting". Food prices were "extraordinarily high ... with maize meal
[prices] around double usual levels for this time of year". There were
also "concerns over the prospect of another bad agricultural season after
erratic rains delayed planting, and worsening rural poverty owing to the
food crisis", the UN report said.

Relief efforts had been complicated by Zambia's rejection of GM food aid
supplied by WFP. President Levy Mwanawasa's government cited health and
environmental risks for its refusal of the grain.

WFP has undertaken to remove existing stocks of GM maize in Zambia,
however, desperate villagers have resorted to looting GM reserves
awaiting transfer to nearby Malawi - which will accept GM relief maize as
long as it is milled.

French news agency AFP reported that George Mpombo, the minister for the
hard-hit Southern Province, said about 4,600 50kg bags of GM and non-GM
staple maize had been stolen in Sizanongwe, 300km from the capital Lusaka.

The starving villagers overpowered the lone police officer after word got
out that the maize was to be returned to Lusaka, the news agency quoted
him as saying.

WFP spokesman Richard Lee confirmed the incident and said it had happened
on Saturday, 25 January. He reiterated that WFP was in the process of
moving its GM stock out of Zambia.

"We are definitely moving GM stock out of Zambia to Malawi ... and we are
scaling up non-GM deliveries to Zambia, hopefully we can meet our
beneficiary targets. Some of it [GM maize in Zambia] is maize meal
already, some is whole grain. Whole grain will be milled before
distribution in Malawi [where 3.3 million need food aid]," Lee told IRIN.

With regards to the 80,000 mt of non-GM food programmed for Zambia, Lee
said: "Some of it has already been distributed and consumed, some is
already on the way [to the country] and some will be on the way in coming

Meanwhile, in order to prevent disruptions in the distribution of food
aid, WFP has been using its logistical capacity to distribute government
food stocks.

"We are collaborating with the government in terms of [distributing]
government maize stocks dotted around the country, which we are
distributing as part of the emergency operation. It has been a very close
and successful cooperation with government on this," Lee added.

Apart from food aid there was an urgent need for essential non-food items
such as medicines.

"The UN system urgently needs donors to come forward to support us so we
can supply medicines, clean drinking water etc. to people in need," Lee added.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
highlighted the shortfall in funding for non-food items in a statement
this week.

"Though the overall level of funding for the UN Consolidated Inter-Agency
Appeal for the Humanitarian Crisis in Southern Africa stands at 58
percent, contributions for programmes outside the food sector have been
poor. As of 24 January, just 12 percent of the funding required for
health sector interventions had been received. Interventions for water
and sanitation have received only 13 percent of the funding that agencies
had requested in July," OCHA warned.