Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Search

 

Cablegate: Darfurqa Difficult Environment for Food Aid

VZCZCXRO1689
PP RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2376/01 2701033
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271033Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4745
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 002376

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
USAID FOR DCHA/FFP/EP
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND FAS
USMISSION UN ROME
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NAIROBI FOR SFO AND REDSO/RFFP
NSC FOR JBRAUSE, NSC/AFRICA FOR TSHORTLEY
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID EAGR PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI SU
SUBJECT: DARFURQA DIFFICULT ENVIRONMENT FOR FOOD AID

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. From August 29 - 31, USAID staff members visited El
Fasher, North Darfur, to follow up on reports that food
aid commodities were for sale in El Fasher markets and
to discuss the food aid program with the UN World Food
Program (WFP). WFP indicated that problems with ration
sales, concern for fraud with ration cards, excess
commodities not returned to the stock after
distributions, and the acceptability of and taste
preference for commodities were current issues they are
working on resolving. End summary.

----------
Background
----------

2. In early 2005, representatives of the European
Commission (EC), the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO), WFP, and USAIDQs Office of Food for
Peace jointly decided to raise the monthly cereal ration
for internally displaced persons (IDPs) from 13.5 kg per
person to 15.0 kg per person in an attempt to inject
cereals into the markets at a time when cereals were
scarce. IDPs were expected to sell some of their
rations in order to buy other ingredients, condiments,
and other household items. Such sales still occur
despite the reduction in cereal ration to the normal
monthly amount of 13.5 kg per person, which occurred at
the beginning of 2006.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

---------------------------------
Weaknesses in Food Aid Management
---------------------------------

3. The team discussed the findings with WFP in El
Fasher, which was aware that significant amounts of food
aid were regularly found on the market and openly
admitted that these findings corresponded with the
results of the post-distribution monitoring interviews
conducted in the IDP camps. In these interviews, WFP
learned that IDPs, on average, sell between 10 percent
and 15 percent of their food ration to obtain other
items. Given that 2,000 metric tons (MT) of food aid
are distributed every month to IDPs living in camps as
well as IDPs living in El Fasher town, one could expect
a monthly turnover of between 200 MT and 300 MT of food
aid on the market. It is worth noting that even after a
missed monthly distribution in June, food aid on the
market did not noticeably diminish, according to El
Fasher-based WFP staff. Reportedly, wheat is not a
preferred commodity in El Fasher, as are millet and
sorghum, and is being sold at a price between SD 1,200
to SD 1,500 (approximately USD 5.70 to USD 7.14) per 50
kg bag.

4. A camp management agency reported that IDPs would
not permit WFP cooperating partners to depart from a
camp after the completion of a food distribution with
excess commodities. WFP stated that this would cause a
riot, and that the current practice is to distribute all
commodities brought to the camp to avoid confrontation.
However, the camp management agency noted that IDPs
would allow a WFP truck to depart with excess
commodities, since WFP is trusted to return the balance
to the warehouse. This problem has resulted in the
distribution of excess food commodities and opens
another avenue for food aid to be taken to market.
Potentially, this opportunity to sell excess commodities
could encourage an oversupply to the camp or under-
distribution to beneficiaries and create surplus for
sale after distribution is completed.

5. Another reported weakness in food aid management
procedures is that some community leaders arrive at the
distribution site with a handful of ration cards that
they then distribute to certain individuals. WFP staff
commented that it is unclear whether the leaders

KHARTOUM 00002376 002 OF 003


safeguard the cards from month to month or whether this
is a scam orchestrated by the leader to receive several
rations by sending individuals to collect the food. WFP
staff who are present during distributions need to
better monitor the origins of the cards and the end
recipient.

6. Corn-Soy Blend (CSB) reportedly is not appreciated
by the IDPs in North Darfur. Rumors of CSB being used
as animal feed circulate in El Fasher and Khartoum. CSB
can be found for sale in El Fasher at the price of SD
600 to SD 700 for a 25 kg bag (approximately USD 2.86 to
USD 3.33). WFP noted that in some parts of Darfur,
cooking demonstrations have resulted in acceptance and
utilization of the commodity. These demonstrations
should stress the value of using the commodity as an
ingredient in the daily meal for its micronutrient
content rather than as a separate dish once in a while.

7. The general ration distribution to IDPs living in El
Fasher town has been a point of contention between WFP
and the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC). WFP
attempted to terminate the program after an initial
phase, but HAC officials were adamant that the program
continue. A compromise was found in the distribution of
a half-ration to urban populations. A switch to
targeted programs for this population group would be
preferable. In a briefing following the field visit,
WFP staff in Khartoum noted that in the current tense
climate in Darfur it would be counterproductive to
attempt such program changes. The visiting team agreed
and suggested the option be kept open for future
discussions.

8. Reportedly, truckers have found it profitable to
load WFP wheat from a storage hub in Sudan and sell it
on the market in Khartoum where 90 kg generate SD 12,000
(USD 57.14). Instead of the wheat, cement is
transported to El Fasher, where it attains a high price.
Truckers claim that cement transport is less prone to
highway attacks and is considered safer. The trucker
then buys the appropriate amount of wheat on the El
Fasher market and delivers it according to the WFP
waybill. WFP in Khartoum confirmed that it has
investigated this scam. The value of the misused food
aid is being subtracted from the trucking company's
invoices to recover the loss.

------------------------------
WFP Responses to Issues Raised
------------------------------

9. On September 5, USAID staff briefed WFP
representatives in Khartoum on the findings from El
Fasher. WFP confirmed that the presented findings were
well-known and were being addressed in partnership with
WFP headquarters in Rome. Many of the issues reported
on above were revealed in the Joint Food Security Report
of 2005. WFP pointed out that in the initial phase of
the crisis the focus was on "getting the food to the
people" at the expense of not having ideal control
mechanisms in place. The WFP official noted that the
crisis was so immense that expedience in moving food to
the beneficiaries came at the cost of accountability.
WFP agreed that it is time to strengthen program
accountability measures and control mechanisms.
However, WFP reiterated that the current tense relations
between the UN and the GNU make it exceedingly difficult
to negotiate changes to the food aid program. WFP made
the following points:

-- The misuse of CSB was of particular concern to WFP
because of its high cost. WFP will ask the
nutritionists to assess the need for CSB in the general
rations prior to formulating the 2007 program plan and
may opt to restrict its use to the supplementary and
therapeutic feeding programs;

-- WFP will resume market monitoring to investigate the
source of the food aid on the El Fasher market and

KHARTOUM 00002376 003 OF 003


identify ways to address the problem. (Note: The same
subject was discussed with the Humanitarian Aid
Department of the European Commission (ECHO). The ECHO
representative strongly defended the marketing of some
of the food rations as a means of coping with the wider
consequences of displacement. The representative
considered the argument that it is uncertain whether the
beneficiary household ultimately receives its fair share
an intrinsic risk. End note.); and

-- Ration card fraud is a common problem particularly in
programs with general food rations. WFP noted that the
earlier re-registration of IDPs in camps greatly
improved the credibility of beneficiary numbers.

----------------------------
Analysis and Recommendations
----------------------------

10. WFP operates a very large program in Darfur with
more than 2.8 million targeted beneficiaries for general
food rations, of whom 96 percent were reached in July as
reported by WFP. USAID staff note that WFP recognizes
the weaknesses in its food aid procedures and has taken
corrective measures where they are possible. Given that
major changes to the food aid program are particularly
difficult to negotiate, when the relationship between
the UN and the Government of National Unity (GNU) is
strained, it would be counterproductive for WFP to press
HAC too hard for changes until the present impasse
between the UN and the GNU has been overcome. WFP
offices in North Darfur and Khartoum are open and frank
about the weaknesses and are actively engaged in
improving the situation where it is possible. USAID
will monitor the anticipated improvements on an ongoing
basis.

HUME

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.