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Cablegate: World Food Program Briefing On Somalia Commodity Diversions

VZCZCXRO2631
PP RUEHRN
DE RUEHRN #0074/01 3441414
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101414Z DEC 09
FM USMISSION UN ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1213
INFO RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0121
RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 0012
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0267
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0322
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0423
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI PRIORITY 0007
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0059
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 1289
RUEHC/USAID WASHDC
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 0018
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0040
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0064
RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI PRIORITY 0001

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 UN ROME 000074

SIPDIS

STATE FOR IO/HS, PRM/MCE AND EB/IFD/ODA
USAID FOR DCHA, FFP, OFDA, AND AFRICA BUREAU
NAIROBI FOR GEORGIANNA PLATT, SUREKA KHANDAGLE AND NICK COX

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: WFP SO AORC EAID PREF UN
SUBJECT: WORLD FOOD PROGRAM BRIEFING ON SOMALIA COMMODITY DIVERSIONS
INVESTIGATION: "NO WRONGDOING" BY WFP STAFF

1. (U) This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please
handle accordingly.

---------------
Summary
---------------

2. (SBU) On December 4, WFP Deputy Executive Director (DED)
Amir Abdulla and Inspector General (IG) Suresh Sharma briefed
Executive Board members on the just completed internal
investigation into alleged diversions of WFP commodities in
Somalia. The investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of
WFP or WFP-contracted transporters. However, between 2-10
percent of commodities were found in Mogadishu markets,
resulting in the cancellation of working agreements of six
implementing partners (IPs), issuance of warning letters to two
other IPs, and the suspension of deliveries to the Bakool
region. (An unsubstantiated 10 percent is also believed to have
been diverted across border to Kenya.) The investigation also
found gaps in needs assessments, monitoring and access,
logistics supply chain, and information-sharing. IG
recommendations include developing an alternative framework of
operations in procurement, transportation, and other areas where
conditions are limiting. WFP reported it is in the process of
enhancing certain systems and ramping up contingency planning in
response to recent declarations by Al-Shabaab or other similar
groups (plans should be firmed up in the coming days). If WFP
is no longer permitted to operate in Al-Shabaab-controlled
territories, WFP's approximate 3.4 million beneficiary workload
would be halved. DED Abdulla stressed that, as reports of
deficiencies were received from the field, HQ took immediate
corrective measures (see Paragraph 6).
End summary.

3. (SBU) In response to donor requests for information and as
announced during its Second Regular Session of the WFP Executive
Board in early November, WFP called a briefing on December 4 to
update Board members on its recently concluded investigation
into alleged diversions of WFP commodities in Somalia. Due to
the last minute notification, a Rome-wide transportation strike
and competing meetings, attendance was low with participation
from only Canada, Finland, the European Commission, Iran
(curiously represented by both the Ambassador and his deputy),
Italy, Mexico, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

-----------------------------------------
Background and Investigation Summary
-----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) IG Sharma reported that the WFP Country Office (CO)
launched an internal investigation after the UK's Channel 4 News
story broke on June 15, 2009, about alleged diversions of WFP
commodities. Due to limited access for WFP staff in certain
parts of Somalia, the CO contracted two private firms based in
Nairobi to begin investigating the claims. A team from WFP/HQ,
including the IG, subsequently traveled to Nairobi to interview
WFP staff, transporters, journalists, traders, NGOs, donors and
UN partners, in an effort to "triangulate" the information
gathered by the private firms. The investigation's findings
centered on six allegations which were supported or refuted as
follows:

A) WFP staff selling commodities: The investigation found no
evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of WFP staff selling
commodities to traders. Similarly, there was no evidence of
traders purchasing commodities from WFP staff. According to
the IG, WFP engages transporters at the port and monitors the
transfer of goods with no actual "hands" on the food. However,
the investigation could neither confirm nor deny the role of WFP
implementing partners (IPs). Also, in an attempt to ascertain
what happened to the extra food that was leftover at sites that
had fewer beneficiaries than planned, the report came to two
conclusions: camp elders may have distributed the extra food
evenly in camps, as is a common practice, or beneficiaries
confirmed to the investigative team that they themselves had

UN ROME 00000074 002 OF 004


sold some of their food for other goods (such as soap and other
hygiene products).

B) Creation of fictional IDP camps: The investigation found no
evidence of fictional camps. However, the number of
beneficiaries in some camps differed from the planning figures
WFP used when allocating resources. Reasons for this difference
include: using year-old beneficiary data from UNICEF; fluid
movement of beneficiaries between camps in the Afgooye corridor,
with family units sometimes leaving behind one member to collect
family rations; and, although the number has not been
substantiated, one camp appeared to have a higher number of
beneficiaries than originally planned, resulting in the
perception that fewer commodities were delivered.

C) Diverted commodities sold on markets: In a special bag
marking exercise utilizing two different methodologies, there
were two instances where between 2 percent (20 MT or
approximately 400 bags) and 10 percent (900 MT out of 9,000 MT)
of WFP commodities destined for the Afgooye corridor were found
in Mogadishu markets.

D) Transporters partially offloading consignments at camps: The
investigation did not detect any transporters diverting
commodities, but such a perception may have resulted since not
all commodities are offloaded at the first campsite. "A very
small truck (run by an IP) comes thru the corridor the day after
commodities are distributed, collecting small bags," according
to the IG.

E) Beneficiaries receiving partial rations: The investigation
found no evidence of a deliberate reduction in rations on the
part of WFP. However, as previously noted, community practice
by elders is to evenly distribute any commodities arriving in
camps. As camp numbers rise and fall, beneficiaries either get
more or less food than planned under this arrangement.

F) Beneficiaries eating boiled leaves: The IG reported that
there could have been occasions when food was not delivered for
a period of up to several weeks due to limited access or when
distribution was reduced due to good harvest, but the
investigation did not observe beneficiaries eating boiled
leaves. Similarly, with regard to the Channel 4 News
allegations that beneficiaries were malnourished, the
investigation revealed that the allegation was based on an
interview by a Nairobi-based MSF doctor who gave general
responses to general questions, e.g., the reason for rising
number of malnourished was due to lack of food, but comments
were taken out of context.

--------------------------------------------- ----------------
Investigation Recommendations and Corrective Actions by WFP
--------------------------------------------- ----------------

5. (SBU) The investigation found gaps in needs assessments,
monitoring and access, logistics supply chain, and
information-sharing. The IG made a series of recommendations:

A) Alternate business plan: WFP needs to develop an alternative
framework of operations in procurement and transportation, among
other areas, where conditions are limiting. The framework
should be developed and shared with the Board and take into
account risk and risk management (e.g., issues relating to
further displacement of people);

B) Information gaps: The CO should reconcile information gaps
from multiple sources to compensate for needs assessment and
monitoring gaps related to limited access by staff (it was noted
that national staff from one region are not permitted to travel
to another region). Data should also be triangulated, e.g., on
commodity amounts, on a regular basis. And joint food
assessment missions, which are currently done at the district
level, should also be conducted at the final distribution
points. The CO should also make a concerted effort to move or
rotate staff conducting assessments. With regard to the

UN ROME 00000074 003 OF 004


perception and exaggeration of information, especially with the
Board, WFP could share more information with donors to correct
misinformation on the part of the media; and

C) Logistics supply chain: although not covered in the Channel 4
News report, the investigation revealed deficiencies with the
internal management of projects. WFP should institute an
internal control system especially in cases where commodities
cross multiple hands.

6. (SBU) WFP action to date: DED Abdulla stressed that, as
reports of deficiencies were received from the field, HQ took
corrective measures as follows:

A) Instituted a month-long, cross-border monitoring on claims
that commodities were being diverted to Kenya (although it was
difficult to get an exact picture, WFP projected about 10
percent of commodities were diverted);

B) Special bag markings were used to determine the source of
leakages from the Afgooye corridor, which helped to narrow down
which IPs and transporters may have been responsible. This led
to the cancellation of working agreements with six IPs, the
issuance of warning letters to two IPs, and the suspension of
deliveries to the Bakool region. (NOTE: WFP works with 126 IPs
throughout Somalia, less than 60 of which operate in areas of
Lower Shabelle where WFP cancelled contracts. END NOTE)
Although transporters were not implicated, WFP also issued
warning letters to six transporters to let them know that WFP is
"watching them like hawks." (In one instance WFP found a
conflict of interest between a married couple in which the
husband was the director of a transport company and the wife was
the head of an IP - WFP canceled that contract as an immediate
action.) DED also reported that WFP contracts include clauses
with penalties if an IP is found to be coercing beneficiaries,
and at the start of the investigation WFP suspended payments to
all contractors.

C) Alternative operating framework and enhancing systems:
Recognizing that an "off the shelf" program is not applicable in
Somalia, in order to better target beneficiaries WFP is
contemplating the idea of working thru elders (as a trusted
social safety net). WFP is also implementing a more sensitive
system of risk assessment including costs of not operating in
certain areas. WFP may accept a certain degree of decreased
monitoring if this prevents large-scale movement of people. WFP
is also working with IPs to improve their reporting
requirements. Relative to IPs, WFP is developing new credible
selection criteria which will be applied to new partners;

D) Degrees of access: WFP is classifying areas (from "free and
unfettered," which means rigorous monitoring, to "no access,"
with the Afgooye corridor being the most difficult). WFP
sub-offices are now implementing access/monitoring plans. Food
distributions in Bay and Lower Shabelle have been suspended
because the risk to monitoring staff is too high (DED Abdulla
noted that WFP may need to reinstitute distributions after the
January harvest);

E) Logistics supply chain: An improved vetting process in
selecting transporters thru a transportation selection committee
has been established. The committees will allocate distribution
accordingly (at the beginning of the month, the logistics unit
will review contracts and produce a report at the end of the
month on how much each transporter received. If any transporter
gets "out of balance," a corrective balance will be instituted
immediately. The system will be put in place with the first
report issued at the end of November 2009). In early 2010, WFP
plans to revise its transportation manual to strengthen it.

F) Information-sharing: The CO will be more proactive in
keeping UN partners informed, actively engage with donors and
enhance its relationship with the TFG.

--------------------------------------------- ----

UN ROME 00000074 004 OF 004


Recent Declarations by Al-Shabaab and Other Groups
--------------------------------------------- ----

7. (SBU) DED Abdulla showed three maps of areas controlled by
Al-Shabaab (electronic copies can be obtained by contacting
USUN-Rome's Harriet Spanos at SpanosH@state.gov). Uncertain as
to how its operations will be impacted by recent declarations by
Al-Shabaab or other related groups (for example, one based in
Kismayo with believed ties to Afghanistan has asked WFP to empty
out its warehouses by January 1, 2010), WFP is in the process of
developing contingency plans. If restrictions worsen, WFP plans
to cease all procurement exercises and operations in Lower Juba
and Shabelle, which could result in IDP movements across to
Dadaab Camp in Kenya. Despite a longer and costlier transit as
well as a higher risk of piracy, WFP is also looking to ramp up
plans to transport commodities through Bossaso Port in lieu of
Mogadishu if WFP is no longer able to operate in
Al-Shabaab-controlled territories. Reduced access of WFP to
these areas would result in a halving of WFP's 3.4 million
beneficiary caseload. DED Abdulla assured that WFP would fully
consult with all stakeholders (UN/international humanitarian
community, donors, and neighboring governments) prior to
embarking on any operational changes. WFP/HQ awaits further
analysis from the CO and Nairobi-based partners that is expected
to take place December 6-7.
GLOVER

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