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WFP food scandal: a big mistake UN must investigate- Prof. Udo

Maize grains packed in WFP bags originating from Uganda at Konyo-Konyo market

By David Mono Danga

Lately tons of aid food items from the World Food Programme (WFP) have been flooding the local markets in Juba leading to a drastic fluctuation in the prices of maize flour and grains in the market.

Earlier this week Juba Monitor exclusively broke the story when a reliable whistleblower revealed to the newspaper that there was a form of serious corruption scandal happening at WFP that is why tons of aid food items are seen in the local markets in Juba.

He said the market price of maize flour used to be $550 per ton (about 110,000 South Sudanese pounds) but due to market reasons it dropped to $350 (about SSP70, 000) which to him was normal because of the market forces of demand.

He insisted that “the prices were dropping to $230 and $170 per ton because of the flooding from the aid Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), citing WFP and USAID in particular.

However, WFP denied the allegations pointing out that some people were reusing the WFP bags to pack their products.

In an exclusive interview, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security described the act as a “very big mistake” and urged the relevant authorities in the UN to investigate the incident and bring the culprits to book.

The undersecretary Prof. Mathew Gordon Udo told Juba Monitor in an exclusive interview in his office on Thursday that for such a bulk of aid items to flood the market, there must be a connection between WFP staff and the business enterprises selling WFP food stuffs in the market.

“If the IDPs (Internally Displaced People) are the ones selling their relief food to acquire basic necessities, it is common but if the food items are in bulk then that is theft inside WFP or any other aid organization,” Prof. Udo said.

“It is a theft, a very big mistake that the authorities concerned must dig out the sources of these leakages (of aid food items into the market) and deal with the culprits. There is a big connection between WFP and the retailers thus the agents should be questioned to reveal where they got the WFP food items they are selling,” he added.

However, most retailers found in possession of the aid food stuffs either denied to reveal their suppliers or asked for anonymity.

WFP communications officer Tomson Phiri had told Juba Monitor earlier that there was a perception that food produced by WFP was high quality that is why some business enterprises obtain the bags with WFP logos to pack their low quality products to get good market.

Undersecretary Prof. Udo also noted that the current fluctuation of prices is also caused by the insufficient production of food stuffs by the local farmers, thereby destabilizing the market. He urges local farmers to continue production of local food stuffs to stabilize the economy.

He added that South Sudan’s dependence on imported food from the neibouring country has created the vacuum where there is high demand but low supply of food stuffs.

Prof. Udo consult WFP to inquire whether or not the world food organization was aware of the presence of its products in the market and what the UN is doing about it.

According to Save the Children’s food security report released yesterday, one in two people face starvation in South Sudan, as extreme hunger hits more states.

Save the children warns that; “Nearly half of South Sudan’s population is facing extreme hunger, the country’s highest proportion of food insecure people in the last 10 years.”

The report indicates that more than six million people currently need urgent food assistance, including more than one million children. Near-famine conditions are predicted in four of South Sudan’s states, a rapid and worrying increase from 2017, in which famine was only declared in one state.

 

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