ITALY – United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian organization, has tapped the current United States Permanent Representative to the UN Agencies in Rome, Cindy McCain as its new Executive Director, effective April.

The new appointment was made by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations QU Dongyu, after consultations with the WFP Board at a special session in Rome.

McCain will succeed David Beasley as Executive Director, who will have served six years when his term ends on April 4.

She is the former Chair of the Board of Trustees of the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

She also served on the Board of Directors of Project C.U.R.E., CARE, Operation Smile, the Halo Trust, and the advisory boards of Too Small To Fail and Warriors and Quiet Waters.

McCain holds an undergraduate degree in Education and a Master’s in Special Education from the University of Southern California.

The President of the Executive Board of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Artur Andrzej Pollok, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Poland welcomed the appointment of Cindy Hensley McCain saying that she was taking over “at a moment when the world confronts the most serious food security crisis in modern history and this leadership role has never been more important.”

“The increasing number of conflicts, climate shocks, and economic turmoil has led to a sharp rise in the number of acutely food-insecure people struggling to get enough food to feed their families – up almost 200 million since before the coronavirus pandemic,” noted WFP in a press release announcing McCain’s appointment.

WFP provided more than 158 million people with food, cash, and vouchers in 2022, more than in any previous year, and received a record US$14 billion in funding. In 2020, the World Food Programme was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Commenting on her appointment, McCain said: “I am ready to roll up my sleeves and spend time both in Rome and in the field, deepening my understanding of WFP’s vital work, and making sure it continues to grow to meet the needs of a hungry world.”

Although “the road ahead is daunting, and hunger is on the rise,” she was confident that “when we come together as one world, we can save lives.”

According to the UNFPA Response Plan for the Horn of Africa Drought Crisis 2022-2023, the Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in 40 years, causing tremendous suffering for more than 36 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

In January 2023, WFP urgently called for US$2.4 billion to help avert a major humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and support 8.8 million people affected by the drought with regular life-saving relief.

Since mid-2021, thanks to the generosity of its partners, WFP said it has more than doubled relief assistance across drought-affected areas of the Horn of Africa from 4 to over 8.8 million food relief beneficiaries every month.

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