The World Food Programme has spent nearly 430 million dollars (315 million euros) to feed needy people in southern Africa over the past five years, the UN agency said on Tuesday.
In a statement in Johannesburg, the WFP said that it has bought more than two million tonnes of food in local markets since 2002 when the region was first hit by recurring food crises.
The funds were used to purchase cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, corn-soya blend, salt and sugar in eight countries across the region, mainly in South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
"These purchases have provided WFP with the means to help millions of needy people," said WFP executive director Josette Sheeran.
With parts of southern Africa facing severe food shortages once again, WFP plans to assist more than four million vulnerable people across the region before the next main harvest in April 2008, the statement said.
WFP is currently scaling up its operations in the worst affected countries, particularly Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland.