Britain Threatens To Withdraw From FAO

Britain said Feb. 26 it could leave one of the United Nations’ agencies fighting hunger unless it improves its “patchy” performance.

The threat to pull out of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) follows a review of British overseas aid ordered by the nine-month- old coalition government, which administers one of the world’s biggest aid budgets.

By contrast, the Conservative-led government said it would step up support for the FAO’s UN sister agency, the World Food Program (WFP), which it said had performed strongly.

The WFP provides emergency food aid after wars or natural disasters whereas the FAO’s work is more long term, helping countries improve farming practice and nutrition.

The Department for International Development (DFID) said it would focus on tackling malnutrition and ensuring more people in poor countries had enough to eat at a time when soaring food prices are causing hardship for millions.

Britain’s 6.5-billion-pound ($10.48 billion) annual aid budget is one of the few areas that have been spared sharp public spending cuts aimed at curbing the country’s record peacetime budget deficit.

“The review found that FAO’s performance is patchy, particularly at country level, and that reforms need to be prioritized,” DFID said.

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