The Rome-based World Food Program, an emergency aid agency of the United Nations, and Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services, the international humanitarian organization of the U.S. Roman Catholic bishops, have agreed to an unprecedented sharing of resources.
An agreement signed yesterday spells out a "division of labor" between the two groups when both are responding to an emergency, thus "cutting through duplication and red tape," said Michael A. D'Adamo, deputy director of the Catholic agency.
The U.N. agency operates in more than 80 countries. Catholic Relief Services is active in a little more than half of those countries.
The two groups formally committed to the collaboration in a signing ceremony at the West Fayette Street headquarters of CRS. It is expected that the U.N.'s World Food Program will later agree to similar partnerships with other food-distribution agencies, including CARE, World Vision, Save the Children and ADRA -- the Adventists' Development and Relief Association.
Mr. D'Adamo said the World Food Program made CRS its "pilot partner" because of the Catholic agency's successes getting food to the people who needed it, once emergency supplies reached troubled areas -- including Bosnia, Rwanda, Angola and Somalia.
"Practically speaking, what the agreement does is make WFP responsible for getting resources into a country," Mr. D'Adamo said. "WFP will then hand the resources over to CRS, which will have the responsibility for registration of beneficiaries and the actual distribution."
The World Food Program has an annual budget of about $1.6 billion. In 1993 and 1994, it received about $807.5 million from the U.S. government. About three-fourths of the Catholic agency's annual budget of $300 million comes from U.S. government sources, Mr. D'Adamo said.
At yesterday's ceremony, Catherine Bertini, director of WFP, signed the agreement for the U.N. agency, while Kenneth F. Hackett, the CRS director, signed for the Catholic group.