Why Irish aid pledge works for WFP

From left to right: World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney and Irish Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello sign strategic agreement between Ireland and WFP. Photo by: Government of Ireland

Ireland is set to provide the World Food Program €21 million ($27.46 million) for the next three years. Forty percent of which will go to the agency’s emergency operations, Devex learns.

The commitment is part of the strategic partnership agreement Irish ministers Simon Coveney and Joe Costello signed with WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin on Monday at a two-day conference on hunger, nutrition and climate change in Dublin. The money will come from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Separately, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will continue to provide funding to WFP for humanitarian emergencies.

The commitment falls under the category of multi-year, untied funding, which means the agency will have sole discretion over how the funds will be disbursed in line with the decisions made in the agreement, WFP spokesperson for the United Kingdom and Ireland Gregory Barrow told Devex.

While WFP can decide where to allocate funds, it can only spend 40 percent on emergency operations and another 40 percent on protracted relief and recovery operations. A further 18 percent, meanwhile, will go to the agency’s immediate response account, money reserved for unexpected emergencies.

The remaining 2 percent will be for the agency’s special operations, which include transport, logistics, telecommunication and IT needs during an emergency situation.

Barrow said multi-year, untied contributions are the “best” for agencies such as the WFP, which relies largely on voluntary contributions. This latest funding commitment will help the organization “plan” ahead.

“Many donors give us funding generously, but it’s a little bit ad hoc. You don’t know at the beginning of the year what you’re gonna get,” he said, adding some donors give more contributions on the second half of the year.

In the past, Irish aid contributions have gone to emergency activities in Chad, Syria and the Sahel region. Part of it was also used for the operation of the WFP-managed U.N. Humanitarian Air Service, which helps transport aid workers to remote areas and communities.

Ireland’s contribution to WFP amounted to some $20 million in 2012.

“We recognise that it is hard to give when times are tough at home, but that makes this contribution all the more valuable to us as we continue our vital work among the world’s hungry poor,” Cousin said in the agreement.

Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.