Prime Minister and Acting Foreign Minister Helen Clark today announced that New Zealand will contribute $1 million to the United NationsWorld Food Programme (WFP) in Afghanistan.
"The WFP is appealing to the international community for emergency funding for its work aimed at bringing food security to the most vulnerable people in Afghanistan," Helen Clark said.
"Afghanistan currently faces a massive decline in agricultural production caused by a severe drought, and compounded by the ongoing armed conflict. A global effort is required to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2002 when drought conditions resulted in massive population displacement as people left their homes in search of food and work to buy food.
"In addition to the expectation of a very poor harvest, sharp increases in the price of global food staples such as flour pose an additional threat to people in Afghanistan living below the poverty line.
"It is estimated that twelve million people in Afghanistan are already unable to purchase enough food to guarantee the global standard minimum food intake. Food security is a major issue for another six million people living close to the poverty line, who spend a majority of their incomes on food and could be seriously affected by further price increases.
"New Zealand's contribution to the WFP will enable the humanitarian agency to move into place food stocks to see the most vulnerable through the coming winter. This needs to get underway urgently before snow closes roads to remote areas.
"As a good international citizen it is important that New Zealand contributes to this international effort to minimise the impact of this emerging crisis and wider efforts to bring food security to the people of Afghanistan," Helen Clark said.
New Zealand's international aid and development agency's (NZAID) Afghanistan programme has an annual budget of $7 million for activities focused primarily in Bamyan, where the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team is based. The programme aims to promote sustainable rural livelihoods through supporting health, education, the development of provincial government and non-government organisations, and, more recently, eco-tourism.