Skip to main content

USDA Welcomes Appointment of U.S. Ambassador Ertharin Cousin as the World Food Programme’s Executive Director

Posted by Kathleen A. Merrigan, USDA Deputy Secretary in Food and Nutrition Trade
Jan 19, 2012

There is good news!  Earlier this week Ambassador Ertharin Cousin was appointed as Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme. The WFP, based in Rome, is the world’s largest humanitarian agency. Its objective is to provide food aid to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people with the intent of ultimately ending the need for food aid by eradicating hunger and poverty.

Ambassador Cousin is uniquely qualified to assume this prominent position. I have had the opportunity to spend time with her in one of the grandest cities in the world.  For more than two years, she has been living in Rome, where she has served as our country’s Representative to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.  In this role, Ambassador Cousin has provided critical leadership in helping to carry out President Obama’s global food security policies.  She is full of energy, ideas, and optimism.  Secretary Vilsack and I greatly appreciate Ambassador Cousin’s support in fulfilling the United States’ strategic objectives with the three Rome-based U.N. agencies. We know she will bring the same level of dedication to her new role.

The WFP is an important organization to the United States and a significant partner of USDA in fighting hunger around the world. In fact, WFP is the single largest implementer of USDA’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program and USDA’s Local and Regional Pilot Procurement Program. In Bangladesh, 350,000 children in more than 1,800 schools are being fed by WFP with help from the McGovern-Dole Program. In 2010, the WFP used U.S. food donated through the McGovern-Dole Program to provide lunch every day to nearly 600 children at the Stara School in Kenya. All of the children are HIV positive or have at least one parent with HIV.

Having worked closely with Ambassador Cousin on significant global issues over the past few years, I know that the WFP will thrive under her leadership.

Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition Trade