Prince Charles is briefed by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva (c) Dominique Burgeon, Head of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division (l)
5 April 2017, Rome – Prince Charles of Wales today visited FAO where he was briefed by officials from the three Rome-based UN food agencies on the massive hunger crises facing northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
The heir to the British throne met FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and senior representatives from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
During his visit, Prince Charles inspected photos and maps detailing the situation in some of the four countries where a total of 30 million people are severely food insecure.
The situation has been described as the world’s largest food crisis since 1945. In February the UN declared a famine in South Sudan – where at least 100,000 people face starvation – and the three other countries are on the brink of famine.
In a video link from Mogadishu, FAO’s Representative in Somalia, Richard Trenchard, provided an update on efforts by FAO and its partners to stave off famine in the country where, protracted conflict is exacerbated by successive droughts caused by climate change.
Prince Charles said he was “immensely proud of Britain’s response and contribution” in supporting the efforts of the UN agencies.
“Would you give my kindest wishes and admiration to all your colleagues and staff who are working in such very challenging and difficult circumstances,” the Prince of Wales said.
According to Trenchard, due to ongoing relief and emergency work, it was unlikely that Somalia would suffer widespread famine this year.
“However the situation remains really dire. Hunger, starvation and livelihood devastation and of course death are very real risks,” he added, noting that security remains a critical issue in the Horn of Africa country.
More than 6 million people face acute food insecurity in Somalia and most of them live in rural areas where hunger levels have spiked primarily due to losses in crop and livestock production and other sources of food and income.
FAO together with other UN agencies and partners, including the United Kingdom, have implemented in Somalia a series of measures including providing cash (cash-for-work and unconditional cash transfers), meeting immediate food and water needs, providing agriculture and fisheries based livelihood support, and saving livestock assets.
The United Kingdom is the largest individual donor nation to the famine relief effort in Somalia and has allocated £110 million in UK aid to the drought response. This will provide hundreds of thousands of people with life-saving assistance including food, safe water and emergency medical services.
During his visit to FAO’s headquarters, Prince Charles also participated in a round-table with senior representatives from the UN agency.
Topics discussed included the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change how these affect the agricultural sectors – including forestry, fisheries, crops and livestock and FAO’s work in assisting member states combat hunger and poverty.