WASHINGTON, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has made its first award under the new Emergency Food Security Program. This nearly $5 million grant to Mercy Corps, a U.S. non-governmental organization, will help them assist 130,000 individuals affected by drought by providing them with locally purchased food and vouchers for the purchase of food in local markets.
The Emergency Food Security Program is a new initiative managed by USAID's Office of Food for Peace that provides grants for local or regional procurement of food commodities, or the use of cash or vouchers for the purchase of food in response to an emergency. It complements the use of traditional U.S. food aid when food purchased in the United States cannot arrive fast enough to respond to the emergency, when local procurement, cash transfers or voucher programs may be more appropriate than in-kind food aid from the United States, or, in exceptional circumstances when significantly more beneficiaries can be served through the use of local, regional procurement, cash or vouchers.
As a result of severe drought, Niger's last harvest could meet less than a quarter of the country's annual food requirements. A recent Niger household food security survey estimates that 3.3 million people in Niger, representing approximately 22 percent of the overall population, will be highly or extremely food insecure and require emergency food assistance to meet basic food needs through September 2010. USAID started to order U.S. food aid in November 2009 based on early warning of the crisis, but later assessments indicated that more food would be needed, and the complexity of the situation required different approaches.
"Our local procurement program has given us the flexibility to fill a critical gap in USAID's Niger response," said Jon Brause, USAID's Deputy Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.
USAID is the largest provider of food assistance in the world, with the Food for Peace Title II food aid program providing 2.4 million tons of food, valued at $2.6 billion, benefiting over 60 million people in 44 countries worldwide in 2009.
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SOURCE U.S. Agency for International Development