World Food Programme

David Beasley United Nations General Assembly Rome
World Food Programme
Emblem of the United Nations.svg
World Food Programme.jpg
World Food Programme Logo Simple.svg
The World Food Programme logo and the headquarters in Rome
Formation19 December 1961; 58 years ago (1961-12-19)
TypeIntergovernmental organization, Regulatory body, Advisory board
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersRome, Italy
David Beasley
Parent organization
United Nations General Assembly
A coloured voting box.svg Politics portal

The World Food Programme[a] (WFP) is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations and the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.[1] According to the WFP, it provides food assistance to an average of 91.4 million people in 83 countries each year.[2] From its headquarters in Rome and from more than 80 country offices around the world, the WFP works to help people who cannot produce or obtain enough food for themselves and their families. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its executive committee.[3]


WFP was established in 1963[4] after the 1960 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Conference, when George McGovern, director of the US Food for Peace Programmes, proposed establishing a multilateral food aid programme. The WFP was formally established in 1963 by the FAO and the United Nations General Assembly on a three-year experimental basis. In 1965, the programme was extended to a continuing basis.


The WFP operations are funded by voluntary donations principally from governments of the world, and also from corporations and private donors.[5] In 2018 funding was $7.2b, of which the largest donors were the US government ($2.5b) and the EU ($1.1b). Donor contributions were largely channelled into the highest-level, conflict-driven hunger crises, leaving less to address lower-profile emergencies, or for strategic work.[6]


The WFP aims to provide food aid in emergency situations, and also to build resilience for food security.[7]



The WFP is governed by an executive board which consists of representatives from 36 member states. David Beasley, previously Governor of South Carolina, United States, was appointed executive director in March 2017, having been appointed jointly by the UN Secretary General and the director-general of the FAO for a five-year term. He heads the secretariat of the WFP, which is headquartered in Rome. The European Union is a permanent observer in the WFP and, as a major donor, participates in the work of its executive board.[8]

David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme


In 2018 the WFP had 17,000 staff.[9]

Logistics Cluster

The Logistics Cluster[10] is an Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) humanitarian coordination mechanism whose primary role is supporting emergency responses. One of eleven sectoral coordination bodies, it was set by UN General Assembly resolution 46/182 in December 1991 and extended in the Humanitarian Reform of 2005, with new elements adopted to improve capacity, predictability, accountability, leadership and partnership.

The Logistics Cluster provides coordination and information management services to support operational decision-making and improve the predictability, timeliness and efficiency of humanitarian emergency responses. Where necessary, the Logistics Cluster also facilitates access to common logistics services. Due to its expertise in the field of humanitarian logistics, the World Food Programme (WFP) was chosen by the IASC as the lead agency for the Logistics Cluster. WFP hosts the Global Logistics Cluster support team in its headquarters in Rome. WFP also acts as a ‘provider of last resort’ offering common logistics services, when critical gaps hamper the humanitarian response.[11]


United Nations C-130 Hercules transports deliver food for the Rumbek region of southern Sudan (2004).
The WFP unloads humanitarian aid at the Freeport of Monrovia during Joint Task Force Liberia (2003).

Examples of programs

Emergency Response procedures

The WFP has a system of classifications known as the Emergency Response Procedures designed for situations that require immediate response. This response is activated under the following criteria:

  1. When human suffering exists and domestic governments cannot respond adequately
  2. The United Nations reputation is under scrutiny
  3. When there is an obvious need for aid from the WFP

The Emergency Response Classifications are divided as follows, with emergency intensity increasing with each level:[20]

Current L3 emergencies

As of April 2020 the following are classified as L3 emergencies:[21]

Partnerships and initiatives

The WFP coordinates and cooperates with a number of official partners in emergencies and development projects. These partners include national government agencies such as DFID, ECHO, EuropeAid, USAID; UN agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); non-governmental organizations such as Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and Norwegian Refugee Council; as well as corporate partners such as Boston Consulting Group, DSM N.V., and Cargill.[22]

Grassroots efforts

World Hunger Relief Week

In 2007, the WFP joined with Yum! Brands, the world's largest restaurant company, to launch the first annual World Hunger Relief Week, a global campaign to increase awareness about hunger, engage volunteers, and raise critically needed funds to help the WFP serve the world's areas of greatest need. World Hunger Relief Week 2007 leveraged the power of nearly 35,000 restaurants around the world, sparking a global movement to end hunger and generating an overwhelming outpouring of support from millions of customers, employees, franchisees and their families. Nearly one million Yum!, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and A&W All American Food employees, franchisees and their families volunteered close to 4 million hours to aid hunger relief efforts in communities worldwide, while helping to raise $16 million throughout the World Hunger Relief Week initiative for the World Food Programme and other hunger relief agencies around the world. The initiative has been repeated every year since.

World Food Program USA

World Food Program USA, before 2010 known as Friends of the World Food Program,[34] works to solve global hunger, building a world where everyone has the food and nutrition needed to lead healthy, productive lives. WFP USA raises support for these efforts in the United States by engaging individuals, organizations and businesses, shaping public policy and generating resources for WFP.[35] The chair was previously Hunter Biden,[36][37] and since 2010 has been Randall Russell.[38][39]

WFP Innovation Accelerator

The World Food Programme's Innovation Accelerator, located in Munich, Germany, has operated since 2016 to source, support, test, and scale innovative approaches to address hunger and food insecurity. Innovative ideas may be found from within WFP global staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies and non-governmental organizations, and are invited to apply on a rolling basis, and through annual Innovation Challenges. Short-listed ideas may be invited to Innovation Bootcamps where innovation teams meet with professional facilitators, mentors and experts from a variety of disciplines in order to fine-tune their proposals and pitch their ideas to potential investors, business supports, and WFP operations. Successful innovations may qualify for financial support to develop the innovation, 3-6 month field testing in WFP's global operations, or scale-up support to expand proven concepts for regional or global impact. The accelerator provides innovation services not only to WFP, but also other United Nations organizations, such as UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR; other non-profit or non-governmental organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Humanitarian Grand Challenge, and XPRIZE; and has partnered with various private sector companies such as Cargill, Google, BCG, and others.

Successful innovations that came through the WFP Innovation Accelerator include: H2Grow Hydroponics: to grow food and animal fodder in extreme environments, using no soil and minimal water. SCOPE CODA: Personal smartcards are issued to people which replace paper-based health records with digital records, and enable frontline workers track nutritional needs, and make informed decisions with real-time data. EMPACT: Digital skills training to prepare conflict-affected youth for the future of work, and enabling them to provide for themselves and their families. ShareTheMeal: WFP's first crowdfunding app, ShareTheMeal enables microdonations from mobile phones and its website, based on the estimation that it costs USD $0.50 to provide 1 meal. In December 2019, ShareTheMeal funded over 50 million meals globally.[40]


Ineffectiveness of aid

Kenyan economist James Shikwati said in a 2005 interview with Der Spiegel: "aid to Africa does more harm than good".[41] According to him, the food aid increases corruption as local politicians have the opportunity to steal some of the aid to bribe voters or to sell the aid in the black markets killing the local agriculture.[42] He claims that the WFP people as an organization "are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated". He suggests that WFP answers too easily to the calls of the corrupted governments.

Serves as a supply route for donor agricultural industries, part of trade subsidies system

Questions have been raised about food aid being a supply route for donor countries agricultural industries.[43][44] A 2005 Oxfam briefing paper was titled 'Food aid or hidden dumping?'[45] This would thus see the WFP as part of the Western agricultural trade subsidies system.

US food production going to the WFP almost doubled between 2016-2020.[46]

Crowding out of local agricultural industry

Shikwati also suggests the WFP supplies too much of food aid leading to reduction of the production of local farmers as "no one can compete with the UN's World Food Programme". [47]

Working through centralised government structures

The World Food Programme was also criticized by José Ciro Martínez and Brent Eng in an essay The Unintended Consequences of Emergency Food Aid: Neutrality, Sovereignty and Politics in the Syrian Civil War, 2012-15. In an interview, an employee of the WFP stated: "Most aid is still subject to strict control measures by the government, who also requests that it be distributed through state approved bodies such as SARC. I believe the government closely oversees if not completely controls these organizations." The authors added that food aid given in Syria would go to the military and its men first.[48]

Enabling imperfect political regimes, and conflict

The WFP faces difficult field issues about addressing need through supplying imperfect regimes. Political leaders may be enabled to act in ways that cause more disruption and trauma to local people, because they know that international food aid will be forthcoming.[49]

Creation of dependency

In 2004 a Ugandan member of the Food Trade and Nutrition coalition said "Food Aid is a necessary evil; it should only be given for short periods to overcome disasters", in relation to refugee sites in Northern Uganda where people had become dependent on aid.[50]

Internal culture

Some surveys have shown internal culture problems at WFP, including harassment.[51][52]

List of executive directors

The following is a chronological list of those who have held the Executive Director of the World Food Programme position:[53]

  1. Addeke Hendrik Boerma (May 1962 – December 1967)
  2. Sushil K. Dev (acting) (January 1968 – August 1968)
  3. Franciso Aquino (July 1968 – May 1976)
  4. Thomas C. M. Robinson (May 1976 – June 1977 acting; July 1977 – September 1977)
  5. Garson N. Vogel (October 1977 – April 1981)
  6. Bernardo de Azevedo Brito (acting) (May 1981 – February 1982)
  7. Juan Felipe Yriart (acting) (de) (February 1982 – April 1982)
  8. James Ingram (April 1982 – April 1992)
  9. Catherine Bertini (April 1992 – April 2002)
  10. James T. Morris (April 2002 – April 2007)
  11. Josette Sheeran (April 2007 – April 2012)
  12. Ertharin Cousin (April 2012–April 2017)
  13. David Beasley (April 2017– )

Average tenure has thus been 4-5 years.

See also



  1. ^ French: Programme alimentaire mondial; Italian: Programma alimentare mondiale; Spanish: Programa Mundial de Alimentos; Arabic: برنامج الأغذية العالمي, barnamaj al'aghdhiat alealami; Russian: Всемирная продовольственная программа, Vsemirnaya prodovol'stvennaya programma; Chinese: 联合国世界粮食计划署, Liánhéguó shìjiè liángshí jìhuà shǔ


  1. ^ WFP. "Mission Statement". WFP. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  2. ^ Overview. Retrieved 2018-11-19
  3. ^ Executive Committee Archived 2011-05-11 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2012-01-15
  4. ^ "About". World Food Program. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
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  6. ^
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  8. ^ "European Union". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
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  10. ^ "Logistics Cluster". Logistics Cluster. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  11. ^ "Logistics Cluster". Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  12. ^ Purchase for Progress: Reflections on the pilot, February 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  13. ^ "Contributions to WFP: Comparative Figures and Five-Year Aggregate Ranking". United Nations World Food Programme. 2020-04-19. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  14. ^ The World Food Programme's Achievements in 2013. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  15. ^ Special Nutritional Products. World Food Programme. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  16. ^ "WFP - Year in Review 2015".
  17. ^ All about the World Food Programme. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  18. ^ Juskalian, Russ. "Inside the Jordan refugee camp that runs on blockchain". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  19. ^ 'Yemen: World Food Programme to cut aid by half in Houthi-controlled areas', BBC,
  20. ^ "WFP Emergency Response Classifications" (PDF). World Food Programme. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Understanding L3 Emergencies". World Food Program USA. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  22. ^ "WFP's Partners". World Food Programme. Retrieved 2014-07-27.
  23. ^ Fill the cup: turning hunger into hope for millions of children. Retrieved on 2015-04-08.
  24. ^ How To Help. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  25. ^ Grassroots International. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  26. ^ Drew Barrymore on CNN about WFP, YouTube video
  27. ^ Christina Aguilera – A Voice for the Hungry | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide Archived 2013-01-04 at the Wayback Machine. WFP. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  28. ^ "Singer Sami Yusuf And WFP Join In Support For Drought-Stricken Horn Of Africa". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  29. ^ "Live Feed: Help the Horn of Africa with Sami Yusuf and WFP". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  30. ^ Sami Yusuf - Forgotten Promises. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2016 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ "United Nations Support". Twitter. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  32. ^ "Composer Benson Taylor joins the United Nations World Food Programme to highlight World Refugee Day". 20 June 2018.
  33. ^ Dickinson, Michael (20 June 2018). "UK Composer & Producer Benson Taylor Joins the United Nations World Food Programme in Uganda to highlight World Refugee Day".
  34. ^ UN World Food Programme (16 July 2010). "WFP's USA Partner Organisation: New Name, New Site, New Online Tools".
  35. ^ World Food Program USA. "Our Mission – A world without hunger". World Food Program USA. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  36. ^ "Hunter Biden". 2019-11-11. Archived from the original on 2019-11-11. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  37. ^ "Joe Biden's son Hunter ordered to Arkansas court for contempt hearing in paternity case". CNBC. Retrieved 17 February 2020. World Food Program USA Board Chairman Hunter Biden
  38. ^ "Nourish to Empover" (PDF). World Food Program USA. 2010. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  39. ^ "Board of Directors". World Food Program USA. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  40. ^ Programme, World Food (2020-02-20). "50 million meals for families in need". Medium. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  41. ^ "Spiegel Interview with African Economics Expert: "For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!"". Spiegel Online. 3 July 2005. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  42. ^ "Removed: news agency feed article". the Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^ Food aid or hidden dumping?, Oxfam Briefing Paper. March 2005,
  46. ^
  47. ^ See also in 'Food aid or hidden dumping?', Oxfam Briefing Paper. March 2005,
  48. ^ a b Martinez, Eng, Jose, Brent (2015). ""The Unintended Consequences of Emergency Food Aid: Neutrality, Sovereignty and Politics in the Syrian Civil War, 2012-15."" (PDF). Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  49. ^ 'Yemen: World Food Programme to cut aid by half in Houthi-controlled areas', BBC,
  50. ^ 'Food aid or hidden dumping?', Oxfam Briefing Paper. March 2005,
  51. ^
  52. ^
  53. ^ "Previous WFP Executive Directors". World Food Programme. Retrieved 2012-04-16.