France’s commitment alongside the Rome-based UN agencies in the fight against COVID-19

The COVID-19 epidemic is affecting all continents. This global health crisis calls for a global, multilateral and coordinated response, as well as special assistance to the most fragile countries. France is committed to working alongside the Rome-based United Nations institutions to address the crisis.


France’s international commitment

France, the world’s 5th largest donor, has decided to mobilize substantial resources to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the most vulnerable countries, the majority of which are in Africa. The initiative, called “Health in Common” and with 1.2 billion euros in funding, is implemented by the French Development Agency (Agence Française de développement, AFD) as an initial response to the health crisis and its immediate economic and social consequences.

France is also at the origin of an international initiative to respond to the impact of COVID-19 in Africa, launched by the appeal of 18 African and European Heads of State and Government, including President Macron, on 15 April this year. This initiative comprises four pillars:

  • support for African health systems,
  • support for African research,
  • humanitarian support,
  • economic support.

The pandemic particularly affects the most vulnerable populations. Their access to food and primary care is a priority. That is why, through the humanitarian pillar of the initiative, France is taking action on the ground to reach remote areas, with its diplomatic and cooperation network and through international agencies, in particular the Rome-based United Nations agencies (WFP, FAO, IFAD).


France’s support to Rome-based agencies

World Food Programme (WFP)

The World Food Programme, leading humanitarian agency in the fight against hunger, is heavily engaged in the response to the COVID-19 crisis. The organization’s first objective is to adapt its programmes to ensure that its nearly 100 million beneficiaries can continue to receive food assistance. WFP is also implementing a set of logistics services for the humanitarian and health community to transport necessary equipment and staff to the most vulnerable countries. Confronted to movement restrictions introduced to contain the epidemic, WFP is working on obtaining the necessary exemptions to maintain humanitarian access.

France has strengthened its contributions and commitment to WFP. Through its programmed food assistance, France has contributed 25 million euros to support WFP activities in 26 countries. This contribution represents a significant increase over last year and was paid in advance of the usual schedule in order to enable WFP to pre-position the necessary stocks. The flexibility of this contribution has also been increased compared to the usual practice, to facilitate the adaptation of field operations.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Aware of the significant risks that the pandemic poses to global food security, FAO is stepping up its efforts to protect the most vulnerable. One of the organization’s priorities is to collect and disseminate all information related to agricultural production, trade and food access, in order to be able to act preventively to any situation of shortage. Through its field teams, FAO is scaling up its work to support producers by providing technical expertise, inputs and monetary assistance to support the most vulnerable households. In times of sanitary lockdown, it is all the more important for workers to be able to carry out their activities safely. Hence FAO is providing support for good hygiene practices and the distribution of sanitary equipment.

FAO promotes the idea that animal, human and plant health are linked, and is committed to preserving them in a common approach. Alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), it participates in research into the origins and spread of the virus.

Within the framework of the United Nations Global Humanitarian Response Plan, the FAO estimates its needs around nearly 350 million US dollars to support the most vulnerable populations in 34 countries.

At the same time, the FAO remains engaged in a large number of countries which were already in a difficult situation before the pandemic. FAO is particularly active in managing the locust crisis in East Africa. France is supporting its action through a funding totaling 6.4 million euros. France also provides FAO with swarm monitoring using satellite images.

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

In response to the crisis, the International Fund for Agricultural Development announced the creation of a Rural Poor Stimulus Facility to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on food production, market access and rural employment. At the April session of IFAD’s Executive Board, France supported the establishment of this Facility and the principle of initial financing from the Fund’s internal resources. France maintains its strong commitment to IFAD in order to prevent the health crisis from turning into a food crisis.


Committee on World Food Security (CFS)

France supports the action of the CFS in the publication of its analyses and recommendations on the impacts of COVID-19 on food security in the world. As a unique and inclusive platform, thanks to its High Level Panel of Experts, the CFS plays an essential role in crisis management through its expertise.

As a member of the CFS Bureau until 2021, France is committed to producing the two annual CFS documents on agro-ecology and sustainable food systems. More than ever, France is aware of the need to transform our production systems towards healthier and more sustainable models.

The European Union’s response to the crisis

The European Commission and its Member States are fully committed to the global response to the COVID-19 crisis with a 20 billion euros contribution. As a reminder, this amount is mainly financed by the European Development Fund - which is largely devoted to Africa and to which France is contributing 5.4 billion euros for the period 2014-2020 - and the European Investment Bank.

On France’s initiative, the European Commission has set up a humanitarian air bridge to transport humanitarian personnel and equipment from the European Union to several African countries as part of the fight against the coronavirus. This European initiative complements the logistical response implemented by the WFP. The first EU flight, operated in collaboration with France, departed from Lyon with some 60 aid workers from various NGOs and 13 tons of humanitarian cargo on board.

The European Union is also an active contributor to the group fighting the impacts of COVID-19 in Africa. Alongside the FAO and the African Union, the EU plans to support African States through material and financial contributions.

In view of the deteriorating situation in the Horn of Africa, the European Union has decided to allocate 105.5 million euros to the states in the region.

Find out more:
- For more details of French aid to Africa you can consult the website of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs
- Read the WFP page dedicated to its response to COVID-19
- See FAO’s dedicated page to its response to COVID-19
- Find details of the IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility
- Download the HLPE position paper on the impacts of COVID-19 on food security (pdf, 343ko)
- Discover the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

Dernière modification : 19/06/2020

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