World Food Programme
|Formation||19 December 1961|
|Type||Intergovernmental organization, Regulatory body, Advisory board|
|United Nations General Assembly|
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. According to the WFP, it provides food assistance to an average of 91.4 million people in 83 countries each year. 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.
WFP was established in 1963 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. 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.
The WFP aims to provide food aid in emergency situations, and also to build resilience for food security.
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.
In 2018 the WFP had 17,000 staff.
The Logistics Cluster 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.
Examples of programs
- In 2008 the WFP coordinated the five-year Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot project. P4P assists smallholding farmers by offering them opportunities to access agricultural markets and to become competitive players in the marketplace. The project spanned across 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and trained 800,000 farmers in improved agricultural production, post-harvest handling, quality assurance, group marketing, agricultural finance, and contracting with the WFP. The project resulted in 366,000 metric tons of food produced and generated more than US$148 million in income for its smallholder farmers.
- In 2010 the WFP responded to the 2010 Haiti earthquake by distributing food aid only to women, as experience built up over almost five decades of working in emergency situations has demonstrated that giving food only to women helps to ensure that it is spread evenly among all household members. School-feeding and/or take-home ration programmes in 71 countries help students focus on their studies and encourage parents to send their children, especially girls, to school.
- In 2013, the WFP reached 80.9 million people in 75 countries and provided 3.1 million tonnes of food, including nutritionally enriched ready-to-use therapeutic foods. 7.8 million malnourished children received special nutritional support in 2013, and 18.6 million children received school meals or take-home rations.
- In 2015, the WFP reached 76.7 million people in 81 countries. In emergencies, more than 50 million people were reached in order to improve their nutrition and food security. School meals were provided to 17.4 million children, helping keep them in school to ensure uninterrupted access to education.
- In 2013 the WFP used cash and vouchers for food assistance to support 7.9m people. In the same year, the WFP purchased food in 91 countries; 86% of that food came from developing countries.
- In 2017 the WFP launched the Building Blocks Program. It aims to distribute money-for-food assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan. The project uses blockchain technology to digitize identities and allow refugees to receive food with eye scanning.
- In 2020 the WFP was feeding more than 12 million Yemenis a month, 80% of whom were in areas controlled by Houthi forces.
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:
- When human suffering exists and domestic governments cannot respond adequately
- The United Nations reputation is under scrutiny
- 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:
- Level 1 – Response is activated. Resources are allocated to prepare for the WFP's local office to respond
- Level 2 – A country's resources require regional assistance with an emergency across one or multiple countries/territories
- Level 3 (L3) – The emergency overpowers the WFP's local offices and requires a global response from the entire WFP organisation
Current L3 emergencies
- COVID-19 pandemic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Northeastern Nigeria
- The Sahel
- South Sudan
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.
- In 2004, the WFP tasked Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama with heading the first student-led War on Hunger effort, after a 2002 Northwestern University pilot. Auburn founded the Committee of 19, which has not only led campus and community hunger awareness events but also developed a War on Hunger model for use on campuses across the country.
- The WFP has launched a global advocacy and fundraising event called Walk the World. On one single day each year, hundreds of thousands of people in every time zone all over the world walk to call for the end of child hunger. In 2005, more than 200,000 people walked in 296 locations. In 2006, there were 760,000 participants in 118 countries all over the world. This event is part of the campaign to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, specifically to halve the number of people who suffer from hunger and poverty by 2015.
- A growing number of grassroots global events and celebrations such as International Day of Peace, World Party Day participants, and Peace One Day recommend the WFP on radio broadcasts as an immediate reach out action, putting help within reach of anyone with the information that a quarter feeds a child for a day. Fill the Cup campaign takes just 25 US cents to fill one of the "red cups" that the World Food Programme uses to give hungry children a regular school meal of porridge, rice or beans. Christina Aguilera, Drew Barrymore and Sean Penn are among notable celebrities who endorse the WFP. The British singer Sami Yusuf joined with the WFP to support the drought-stricken in Horn of Africa through his personal campaign, LiveFeedAfrica and music video, Forgotten Promises.
- In June 2018, composer and WFP supporter Benson Taylor, travelled to the Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement in Uganda with the WFP to raise awareness for World Refugee Day.
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, 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. The chair was previously Hunter Biden, and since 2010 has been Randall Russell.
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.
Ineffectiveness of aid
Kenyan economist James Shikwati said in a 2005 interview with Der Spiegel: "aid to Africa does more harm than good". 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. 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. A 2005 Oxfam briefing paper was titled 'Food aid or hidden dumping?' 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.
Crowding out of local agricultural industry
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.
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.
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.
List of executive directors
The following is a chronological list of those who have held the Executive Director of the World Food Programme position:
- Addeke Hendrik Boerma (May 1962 – December 1967)
- Sushil K. Dev (acting) (January 1968 – August 1968)
- Franciso Aquino (July 1968 – May 1976)
- Thomas C. M. Robinson (May 1976 – June 1977 acting; July 1977 – September 1977)
- Garson N. Vogel (October 1977 – April 1981)
- Bernardo de Azevedo Brito (acting) (May 1981 – February 1982)
- Juan Felipe Yriart (acting) (de) (February 1982 – April 1982)
- James Ingram (April 1982 – April 1992)
- Catherine Bertini (April 1992 – April 2002)
- James T. Morris (April 2002 – April 2007)
- Josette Sheeran (April 2007 – April 2012)
- Ertharin Cousin (April 2012–April 2017)
- David Beasley (April 2017– )
Average tenure has thus been 4-5 years.
- Asia Emergency Response Facility
- Fight Hunger: Walk the World
- Food Force, an educational game
- Food security
- Walk the World
- World Food Council
- Logistics Cluster
- 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
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- The World Food Programme's Achievements in 2013. WFP.org. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
- Special Nutritional Products. World Food Programme. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
- "WFP - Year in Review 2015". publications.wfp.org.
- All about the World Food Programme. WFP.org. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
- Juskalian, Russ. "Inside the Jordan refugee camp that runs on blockchain". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
- 'Yemen: World Food Programme to cut aid by half in Houthi-controlled areas', BBC, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-52239645
- "WFP Emergency Response Classifications" (PDF). World Food Programme. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
- "Understanding L3 Emergencies". World Food Program USA. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
- "WFP's Partners". World Food Programme. Retrieved 2014-07-27.
- Fill the cup: turning hunger into hope for millions of children. Wfp.org. Retrieved on 2015-04-08.
- How To Help. Wfp.org. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
- Grassroots International. Grassrootsonline.org. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
- Drew Barrymore on CNN about WFP, YouTube video
- 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.
- "Singer Sami Yusuf And WFP Join In Support For Drought-Stricken Horn Of Africa". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Live Feed: Help the Horn of Africa with Sami Yusuf and WFP". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- Sami Yusuf - Forgotten Promises. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2016 – via YouTube.
- "United Nations Support". Twitter. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
- "Composer Benson Taylor joins the United Nations World Food Programme to highlight World Refugee Day". 20 June 2018.
- Dickinson, Michael (20 June 2018). "UK Composer & Producer Benson Taylor Joins the United Nations World Food Programme in Uganda to highlight World Refugee Day".
- UN World Food Programme (16 July 2010). "WFP's USA Partner Organisation: New Name, New Site, New Online Tools".
- World Food Program USA. "Our Mission – A world without hunger". World Food Program USA. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
- "Hunter Biden". 2019-11-11. Archived from the original on 2019-11-11. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
- "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
- "Nourish to Empover" (PDF). World Food Program USA. 2010. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
- "Board of Directors". World Food Program USA. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
- Programme, World Food (2020-02-20). "50 million meals for families in need". Medium. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
- "Spiegel Interview with African Economics Expert: "For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!"". Spiegel Online. 3 July 2005. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- "Removed: news agency feed article". the Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
- Food aid or hidden dumping?, Oxfam Briefing Paper. March 2005, https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/handle/10546/114492
- See also in 'Food aid or hidden dumping?', Oxfam Briefing Paper. March 2005, https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/handle/10546/114492
- 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
- 'Yemen: World Food Programme to cut aid by half in Houthi-controlled areas', BBC, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-52239645
- 'Food aid or hidden dumping?', Oxfam Briefing Paper. March 2005, https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/handle/10546/114492
- "Previous WFP Executive Directors". World Food Programme. Retrieved 2012-04-16.