Students in a rural school near Gwembe learn about soilless cultivation, or hydroponics, in a greenhouse set up by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Zambia. It will come as no surprise that the most food-insecure people live in developing countries and in arid areas where little water is available – or too much water, of too poor a quality. Water is essential for food production, but decades of poor water management, misuse and pollution have degraded freshwater supplies and ecosystems. WFP helps to replenish water-depleted soils and aquifers through programmes that provide communities with water access and availability. These benefits also help to increase people’s food security, empowering them over the long term.
One year ago, WFP did not have an office in Ukraine. This lower middle-income agricultural powerhouse did not require one any longer, and operations shut down in 2018. That – and much more – changed dramatically in the days following the invasion. The war’s effects swiftly rippled outwards. Food, oil and fertilizer prices soared, affecting vulnerable communities in countries thousands of miles away – 20 million of them in the Horn of Africa alone. WFP has supported more than 10 million people to date in the country with 1.3 billion meals. Today, over 80 percent of WFP aid is directed at those living near the frontlines.
Pope Francis to cast spotlight on ‘forgotten’ crises
The devastating fallout of conflict, and the importance of building peace, are likely to be key themes for Pope Francis when he visits DRC and South Sudan next week. It sheds a rare spotlight on two of the world’s most fragile countries, where unrest has helped drive hunger to alarming and sometimes catastrophic levels. Between South Sudan and DRC, WFP has reached more 11 million of the most vulnerable with food and nutritional assistance in 2022, focusing especially on conflict-hit women and children. But as needs in both countries grow, WFP faces multi-million dollar funding shortfalls, forcing them to reduce their support to even the hungriest people.
Soaring global food insecurity is putting 750,000 people, in five countries, at immediate risk of ‘starvation or death,’ according to the latest Hunger Hotspots report, published by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Food insecurity is expected to worsen in countries that form part of what WFP calls a 'ring of fire' creeping across the globe, with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sahel region and Syria among the 20 hotspots highlighted in the report. Conflict in Ukraine – which is listed as a hotspot – has triggered not only the biggest humanitarian crisis this century but also a global spike in fuel and food prices. Hunger Hotspots includes recommendations for every country on two fronts: emergency response to save lives and anticipatory actions. Both require donor support.
WFP is designing programmes to support Afghanistan's smallholder farmers and feed children at the same time. The Bread+ project, pictured, gives children midday snacks and will grow to work with 1,100 local bakers by September. Mary-Ellen McGroarty, World Food Programme country director for Afghanistan, explains why donors - whose help averted famine over the winter - must continue their support.
It is still possible to solve the climate crisis. But time is short. We must invest in our planet now to protect people, livelihoods and our futures. WFP works with communities in Haiti to build resilience to climate shocks by creating, rehabilitating and modernising community resources. In 2021, 80,000 people in six departments benefitted from resilience activities. This included 73,000 trees planted and 2,500 metres of flood protection dikes and 6,264 meters of drainage canals rehabilitated.
The World Food Programme is calling for US$570 million as it kicks off an emergency response to the Ukraine crisis. The organization is putting critical supplies in place as the UN says more than a million refugees have crossed into neighbouring countries. Ljudmila, 70, could not bear to leave her cat behind as she embarked on a six-day journey to Poland. WFP is working with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to assist 300,000 people outside Ukraine’s borders.
Almost overnight, Asia’s most fragile economy has collapsed, leaving people jobless or with unpaid salaries and without access to their savings. Prior to that, 11 million Afghans were already food insecure due to years of drought, conflict and COVID-19. Now almost 23 million people, more than half the country, don’t know where their next meal is coming from and we see clinics filling up with severely malnourished children. It is the unveiling of a tragedy in real time. WFP has scrambled to pre-position food in rural areas before the imminent winter snows make the roads impassable. But rather like outrunning an avalanche, the surge in hunger threatens to overcome the convoys of trucks snaking up mountain paths loaded with food.
One-year-old Tara from Latakia was malnourished from birth. After receiving treatment from WFP she’s putting on weight and gaining strength. As more Syrians than ever before wondered how they would make it through each day with empty refrigerators, shrinking portions and markets full of produce they could no longer afford, the World Food Programme reached 5.7 million people with food assistance.
“When it comes to environmental impact, packaging is a big one,” says Emanuela Cattaneo, Environmental Adviser in WFP’s Regional Bureau in Nairobi. “Our help is life-saving and life-changing, and that’s inspiring,” says Cattaneo, “but it also leaves behind an unwanted environmental footprint. We’re aware of that – that’s why we’ve made an official commitment to curb that footprint.” The office in Kenya has recycled 1.1 million polypropylene woven bags. But challenges remain. “At local level, the communities that receive assistance often lack the tools to recycle or reuse packaging efficiently. We’re working to change that.”
A mother in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is relieved that her children will eat well tonight thanks to WFP-supplied maize meal, beans, oil and salt contributed by the United States Agency for International Development and other donors.
In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, 690 million people — nearly 9 per cent of the world's population — still go to bed hungry each night. After nearly a decade of progress, the number of hungry people has slowly increased — driven by the twin scourges of conflict and climate change, and now compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. WFP is the frontline agency responding to emergencies caused by conflict, climate shocks, pandemics and other disasters. There are 34 million people in three-dozen countries at the ‘emergency’ phase of food insecurity in 2021, just one step away from a declaration of famine. The greatest threat currently lies in Yemen and South Sudan. WFP urgently need US$5.5 billion to avert famine, chiefly through life-saving food and nutrition assistance.