WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Agency for International Development announced today an additional 67,690 metric tons of U.S. Title II food assistance to be delivered to southern Africa through the NGO Consortium for the Southern Africa Food Security Emergency.

This donation from USAID's Food for Peace program brings total U.S. food assistance to southern Africa since June 2005 to more than 370,000 MT, valued at approximately $280 million, which meets more than one third of the assessed emergency need.

Prolonged drought and poor harvests, coupled with a steady erosion of household assets and the increased impact of HIV/AIDS, have exacerbated the region's insecurity, leaving more than 12.5 million people in need of food assistance over the coming months, with the greatest concern in Zimbabwe and Malawi.

"America remains committed to breaking the cycle of hunger throughout Africa. The combined efforts of the United States and UN World Food Program have averted a widespread humanitarian crisis in southern Africa this year," said a USAID spokesperson. "We urge international donors to honor their pledges for greater assistance and call on African governments to continue the reforms that will ultimately lift their populations out of poverty."

USAID has been actively involved in responding to the food security situation in southern Africa since early 2002. To date, the U.S. has provided approximately 70 percent of the total resources pledged to the WFP Southern Africa Protracted Relief and Rehabilitation Operation, in addition to food provided through the C-SAFE consortium, which is strengthening food security and resilience throughout Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The U.S. government has delivered more than 1.2 million MT of food aid valued at more than $800 million since the beginning of 2002 -- including this contribution -- and is the largest donor of food assistance to the food crises in southern Africa. USAID also supports emergency nutrition and agriculture programs in southern Africa that complement the emergency food aid provided by the American people.

The U.S., through the G-8 "Breaking the Cycle of Famine" initiative, is engaged with the New Partnership for Africa's Development and others to improve agricultural productivity in Africa. The U.S. continues to work with NEPAD to support its Comprehensive Agriculture Action Plan, including through more sustainable land and water management, market-oriented agricultural policies, improved infrastructure, access to finance, more developed regional markets, and science and technology.

Celebrating 50 years in 2004, USAID's Food for Peace program has brought nourishment to more than 3 billion people in 150 countries.

SOURCE: U.S. Agency for International Development news release via PR Newswire.