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10/20/2015 - 16:55
Aid professionals, Logistics, Purchase for Progress

What was your motivation for taking such a radical step in your life?

I reached a point in my personal and professional life where I was reflecting on the objectives of my life. I had been very fortunate to have achieved success at a reasonably young age, whether financial or otherwise.

Our organization was an industry leader and the question for me was: "What is my purpose?" "What is my motivation?" "When I reach the age of 60, 70, 80, what does "winning" look like for me?". I certainly didn't feel it would be reflected in the amount of money I had in my bank account or how many assets I owned.

[quote|"When I reach the age of 60, 70, 80, what does "winning" look like for me?". I certainly didn't feel it would be reflected in the amount of money I had in my bank account or how many assets I owned.]


I started to explore ways in which I could use the gifts that I have been given for the benefit of others. My decision to step away from my corporate responsibilities and do a different thing was not sudden – it evolved over several years. Thankfully I have a very supportive family. I explained to them that I wanted to try and use my experience and my talents to help others.

Was it easier for you to make a life-changing decision like this, as opposed to other people, as you had presumably made yourself financially secure?

Having money may allow you some additional flexibility in your decision making, but it does not make life-changing decisions any easier. I am not able to comment on the motivation or capacity of other people. However I can assure you it was not an easy decision for me to leave my family and the work I was doing, to pursue an objective I knew very little about. 

Also, it is important to note that volunteering does not have to mean changing one's life. Everyone has the ability to dedicate part of their time to supporting others. It is not a question of how much money you have – it is a question of desire. If you can only spare a small amount of your time, that is great. If you are in a position to contribute more of your time, even better.

Why did you want to volunteer for WFP?

I began researching. I knew about the United Nations and I'd heard about the World Food Programme but I didn't know the details.


I approached WFP and said: "I have specific skills in supply chain management. You move an enormous amount of food in many different countries. Let me come and assess your supply chain and identify ways that I may be able to assist you".

How did things develop from there?

I joined WFP on a handshake and an informal agreement that I would work for six months as a volunteer. I never expected this would become such a passion. Neither did I anticipate that I would be involved for over three-and-a-half years.

We don't often get the chance to change an individual's life, let alone the lives of tens of thousands of families. People say: "How can you volunteer? You are getting nothing to do this". What they don't understand is how richly I am rewarded in ways other than money. The past four days, spent in southwest Uganda, were some of the proudest experiences I have had in my life.

How did you try and improve the work already being done?

I didn't anticipate seeing such levels of post-harvest food losses in the developing regions where WFP was working. It was alarming to find out that everything that was causing these losses had nothing to do with agricultural inputs. It had everything to do with logistics following harvest. 

Photo:WFP/Immaculate Nalinnya

The procedures for transporting crops, the way they were being cleaned and dried prior to storage, and, most importantly, traditional household storage, were not of the right standard.

So I worked with some senior managers on a proposal. I suggested: "Let me show you how, if WFP can apply its logistical infrastructure and deep field presence, it can address food losses in a way that no other organization in the world has been able to do in the past".

How would you summarize your achievements?

We supported 16,600 farmers last year. This year, we are involving 41,000 farmers. We will be providing 840 workshops and we will produce and distribute more than 100,000 new pieces of handling and storage equipment to farmers.

WFP and our partners have achieved every one of our project goals in reducing post-harvest losses. This has not been achieved before in Africa. I like to think of WFP as leading the agricultural revolution for all developing regions.

How did you find the work of your colleagues?

That was challenging. I came with the private-sector mindset of just running through the wall. I had to understand that, for very good reasons, there are procedures that you need to follow. So the first few months required some adjustment on my part to understand the procedures of the Country Office.

The Country Director once said to me: "Simon, you are leading a development initiative but working with the urgency of an emergency operation!". We are now at a stage where I am far more respectful of the rules, but in fairness to the Ugandan Country Office team, they have worked very hard to find ways of providing rapid support to our project.

I was very impressed with the motivation and focus shown by the Ugandan staff, both in Kampala and at each of our offices.

What was the big challenge you faced?

The biggest challenge was the mindset of some Ugandans that Africans cannot perform at the same level as non-Africans. If I had accepted that thinking, we would have never set goals so high and we would have never achieved all of them.

What impact are you seeing from the work you've done?

I have been privileged to visit various groups of farmers who have been explaining to me the positive influence that WFP has made to their lives. They have literally been singing and dancing with joy!

[quote|"Various groups of farmers explained to me the positive influence that WFP has made to their lives. They have literally been singing and dancing with joy!"]


Many of the farmers have shared wonderful stories with me about the cleaner food they are now providing to their family, the extra food they have to eat or sell, the extra money they have made to pay for their children's education, buy medicine or increase the size of their farms.

Did you like Uganda?

I loved Uganda. I loved the people. I loved their joyfulness. If you go through my files you will see I have so many photos and videos of the happiness of the Ugandan people. I just love the culture. During our training, the people would sing and dance and I would often get up and dance with them. This is such a rich country, a place of enormous opportunity and potential.

What are you planning to do next?

I am leaving the Uganda office but I am not yet leaving WFP. I cannot walk away from our project. I just mentioned to you the scale of our work in 2015. Even though a new team of leaders has come in to take the project forward, I have offered to remain available – remotely or electronically – and to come back if need be, to support them over the coming months.

Then I will see in the New Year what the next challenge will be for me. In the interim, I need to re-acquaint myself with my family. It's over three years that we have been apart.

How do you see the future of Uganda and its people now, are you optimistic?

Agriculture is both the largest employer of people and the largest source of family income in Uganda, so the need to eliminate the current levels of post-harvest food loss is of paramount importance. 

What WFP and partners have shown is the potential benefit of launching initiatives across all farming regions. The current problem has little to do with the capability of Ugandan farmers and everything to do with insufficient guidance and education. I am extremely confident in the ability of Uganda to become a net export nation of quality crops, rather than a nation reliant on importing food from other countries.

See also:
How Can Reducing Post-Harvest Losses Support Food Security?
SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction


What motivated the Managing Director of one of the Southern Hemisphere's largest logistics and agricultural organizations to give up his job and volunteer for WFP? As he completes a three-and-a-half year assignment with WFP, based mostly in Uganda, Simon Costa explains why he made such a drastic change, which involved being away from his family for three-and-a-half years, and how his work helped to produce unprecedented results in tackling food losses in Uganda.

08/19/2015 - 05:46
Aid professionals

Marlon Laher, Driver, WFP Manila Country Office


Photo credit: WFP/Arlene Robles

Meet Marlon Laher. He has been a driver for WFP’s Manila office since May 2006. Marlon was one of the first drivers to come on board when WFP re-established its presence in the Philippines to assist in the conflict-affected areas of Central Mindanao.

For him, the most challenging part of his work is when WFP responds to emergencies.

“We are usually one of the first persons to arrive in the vicinity and everybody’s thinking that we're already bringing food for them,” he explained.

“As a driver, our most important job is the safety of our passengers. Then we also help assess road safety. So if the Logistics guys call us, we can tell them what type of vehicles can pass by a road that has been affected by a disaster,” he added.

Marlon has responded to so many disasters, he fails to remember the exact names of all the typhoon emergency operations conducted by the organisation. However, what he does remember are the challenges he saw on the ground.

“Like during Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), it was emotionally difficult for us to see the people affected by the disaster. As soon as we arrived, we saw the casualties, people crying and the destroyed houses. Everything was gone – which is why as a humanitarian worker, I am always encouraged to help the poor, especially during disaster relief operations. We make sure that we give the right food to the right people.”

Nine years on the job and he is still inspired to continue his work for WFP.

"It feels good to help others," said Marlon. "In the first place, we are helping fellow Filipinos. If foreigners themselves come here to help us, then what more us, fellow Filipinos? We'd gladly go out of our way to help each other."


Apasrah Bani, Field Monitor Assistant, WFP Iligan Sub-Office

Photo credit: WFP/Raihanna Datuharon

Meet Apasrah Bani. She has been a Field Monitor Assistant in WFP’s Iligan sub-office since February 2007. As a child, Apasrah always dreamt of becoming a community worker. Working in the community, however, is definitely a challenge for Apasrah as she has to bring together different people towards one goal.

“The most challenging part of my job is to be able to bridge the gap between the people in the community and the local government units,” she said. “The province where I am assigned has unique and complex dynamics compared to other provinces; so my work requires patience and perseverance.”

Being part of WFP has widened Apasrah’s experience and allowed her to extend help to more people, especially as she, herself, is a survivor of the armed conflict in Mindanao.

“For me the most inspiring experience as a humanitarian worker is responding at the onset of emergencies. I can always relate to the experience of internally displaced persons (IDPs) because I was also once an IDP during the 2000 armed conflict in Lanao Del Norte,” she explains. “There is always the feeling of happiness when you see the people smiling back at you amidst the difficulties they are facing and there is always that sense of fulfilment when you see them recovering from shocks knowing that you’re part of that journey.”

For her, compassion is the one legacy that she wants to leave behind as a humanitarian worker.

“Working with compassion is what matters most,” Apasrah said. “If I may quote the statement of the late Maya Angelou ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’”


Jofer Siodora, Logistics Assistant, WFP Cotabato Sub-Office

Photo credit: WFP

Meet Jofer Siodora. Since April 2007, he has worked as a Logistics Assistant based in WFP’s Cotabato sub-office. Believing in the principles, goals and objectives of the United Nations (UN), it has been Jofer’s dream to work for the UN. So when he learned about the job opening at WFP, he applied and fortunately, was offered the job.

As a logistics staff, he is one of the first persons to arrive during an emergency and this is where he faces a lot of challenges.

“I have this dream of witnessing how a community develops through the work we do but, in reality, when we go to the ground and talk to the beneficiaries, there is so much that still needs to be done. We can only do so much because we have limited resources,” Jofer shares.

Being a logistician, he wants to see improved systems so that people affected by emergencies are immediately reached.

“I want to establish a transport contract nationwide, via sea and land, in a cost-efficient and cost-effective manner with transport companies that can meet WFP’s requirements with a quick turnaround time, particularly during emergencies,” he said.

After eight years of working for WFP, Jofer remains committed to doing his work especially, when he interacts with the communities helped by the organisation.

“When I am in the field visiting schools under the school feeding programme  seeing the pupils having their meals during lunch time, greeting me and seeing the smiles on their innocent faces really inspires me to do my job well because I know that we, as WFP, are one of the reasons why there are smiles on their faces,” he said.

Three people from different parts of the Philippines joined by one organisation – the World Food Programme (WFP). This is the story of three humanitarian workers from WFP's offices in Manila, Cotabato, and Iligan, sharing the challenges and inspiration they encounter in their work.

03/06/2015 - 10:27
Aid professionals

Photo of Lizpeth talking into a walkie-talkie.

Lizpeth Nicolas - Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Officer

Lizpeth leads the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Office of the Municipality of Juban, a fourth class municipality in the Province of Sorsogon, Philippines. She started the disaster risk reduction office of Irosin from the ground up, with disaster preparedness response activities in partnership with WFP and the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. Lizpeth brings Irosin closer to Zero Hunger as she and her team help vulnerable families become more resilient in coping with possible hazards in their community such as typhoons, floods, and volcanic hazards.

“For me, being a woman is not a hindrance to my position as the Disaster Risk Reduction Officer; rather, it is an advantage. Women have proven themselves to be adept at planning, decision-making, and other initiatives so we are not left out, we show strength. Now, we have gained respect. No one disobeys especially since we push for the general welfare of the people. My advantage is that I know my work and I know the characteristics of each barangay(village) when it comes to disaster risk reduction and management.” – Lizpeth Nicolas


Photo of Nymfa pointing to a weather forecast chart.

Nimfa Ferolino - Municipal Agriculturist

Nimfa heads the Municipal Agriculture Office of the Municipality of Irosin in the Province of Sorsogon, Philippines. She led the development of the Climate Resiliency Field School, where they help give technical agriculture and climate information to the farmers in Irosin. With her leadership, farmers are closer to Zero Hunger as they become more resilient and have increased rice yields. [quote| "Being a woman has been a huge advantage to this project because I, in turn, help encourage more women farmers."]

“Being a woman has been a huge advantage to this project because I, in turn, help encourage more women farmers. Women are no longer confined in their houses. Instead, they now assist in the farming activities. We currently have 30% women farmers, but I would like to see an increase in women’s participation because if you take a look at it, mothers, women, are the ones that support the family. So women become more empowered once they are part of development.” – Nimfa Ferolino

Photo of Evelyn sitting at her teacher's desk.

Evelyn Alibadbarin - School-in-Charge, Tomicor Elementary School

Evelyn has been school-in-charge for nine years in Tomicor Elementary School (ES) in the Municipality of Ampatuan, Maguindanao. As the school-in-charge, she helps lead the school children towards Zero Hunger through the school feeding programme in partnership with the World Food Programme, the Department of Education, and the Parent-Teacher-Community Association. She has also steered the school to excel in several competitions with other schools in Mindanao.

“Most of our students walk three hours to get to school since they live about four kilometres away.  The school feeding programme encourages them to come to school.  At present, we have zero dropout rate.  The provision of daily hot meals also results to active participation of students in class and because of this, our school has been able to join various district and division competitions with other schools.  We are also proud to say that in Tomicor ES, our students’ reading performance is very good and last year, we were the top performing school for Mathematics during the National Achievement Test in Mindanao!” – Evelyn Alibadbarin


Photo of women farmers choosing seaweeds.

Archie Judal, Julie Cubo, Concheta Oronan, and Marivic Panocial - Women Seaweed Farmers, Bantay Dagat Organization

Women seaweed farmers of the Bantay Dagat Organization work together towards Zero Hunger by securing their livelihood in Barangay Simbuco in the Municipality of Kolambugan, Province of Lanao del Norte. Seaweed farming, supported by WFP and the European Union, is an alternative source of income for the community aside from fishing. It provides steady communal income for the women and their families which they spend on food and their children’s schooling. In addition to growing seaweeds, the women also actively participate in the mangrove reforestation project to help protect their village’s coastline.

“Through seaweed farming, I can now ensure that there is food on my family’s table every day and can support our other needs like my children’s education. Aside from that, I believe that we are all responsible in protecting our seas and oceans because this is where we get our food and source of our living. In our own little way, we joined the mangrove association so that we can continuously plant mangroves as part of marine protection.” – Archie Judal, beneficiary of Cash-For-Assets (Seaweeds Production Training) and participant of Food-For-Assets (Mangrove Reforestation Project)


Portrait photo of a smiling Edna.

Edna Junio - Provincial Administrator

Edna started work in the Provincial Government of Cagayan as a social worker in 1973 and rose through the ranks until she became the Provincial Administrator. She is also a professor who teaches social work in a local university. Under her helm, Cagayan prioritized disaster preparedness and response in the province, in partnership with WFP. Edna brings the Province of Cagayan closer to Zero Hunger as they help their constituents cope with disasters through capacity building trainings, early warning systems, and improvement of disaster response facilities.

“Being a woman is an advantage. Women have a certain kind of charm to mobilize people and a nurturing and caring attitude. As a teacher and a provincial administrator, I noticed an increase in women students in terms of social work and women who are attending trainings like leadership trainings. So maybe they see in some of their women leaders that women can do something, maybe even better than men in some fields.” – Edna Junio


Portrait photo of Perla.

Perla Visorro - President, Cagayan Valley Partners in People Development

Perla is the President of the non-government organization Cagayan Valley Partners in People Development (CAVAPPED). Under her leadership, they have organized socio-economic development initiatives in various municipalities in the Cagayan Valley region, which brings these communities closer to Zero Hunger. One component of CAVAPPED’s programmes include community-based disaster preparedness and response programmes with WFP and funded by USAID/OFDA.

“We are engaged in rural development work to assist the marginal families, depressed communities, and indigenous peoples from the coastal areas up to the upland areas. In the course of pushing for rural development, we have seen that it’s important to include the biodiversity conservation and environmental protection dimension because it is the resource base that, once depleted, will give people difficulty in survival in life. When you speak of socio-economic development activities, we have done the gamut of that. From reef to ridge, and from ridge to reef, so to speak.” – Perla Visorro

In the course of its work in the Philippines, the World Food Programme has crossed paths with many women who have shown strength and leadership in their respective communities in order to achieve Zero Hunger. This March -- Women's Month -- be inspired by their stories.

01/28/2015 - 17:51
Aid professionals, Climate Change

CCAFS brings together the world's best researchers in agricultural, climate, environmental and social sciences to identify and address the most important interactions, synergies and trade-offs between climate change and agriculture. 

R4: Protecting Livelihoods And Building Resilience 

R4 was launched by WFP and Oxfam America in 2011, with support from Swiss Re, building on the ground-breaking work of Oxfam and partners, including the Relief Society of Tigray and Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society.  

R4 helps vulnerable rural households to increase their food security through community risk reduction, microinsurance, livelihoods diversification, credit and savings. The most innovative aspect of R4 is the ability of poor famers to pay for their insurance with their labor on activities that reduce the impact of drought and floods, and increase their productivity.   

With the protection of insurance, when a drought hits, farmers receive automatic insurance pay-outs. This prevents them from selling off productive assets like livestock to survive or taking their children out of school.  In 2012, more than 12,000 drought-affected households received an insurance pay-out of over US$ 320,000. This is the first time that a weather index insurance programme in Ethiopia has directly delivered pay-outs at such a large scale to small farmers. 

WFP And Weather Insurance

Weather insurance is a powerful tool to help people to better manage climate risk.  

Since 2006, WFP has worked with its partners to test and scale up innovative ways of providing insurance protection to help people become more resilient and food secure.  R4 is one of the most successful initiatives emerging from this work.  

Exceptional Scale-Up

In Ethiopia R4 expanded from 200 farmers in one pilot village in 2009 to more than 25,000 across 89 villages in 2014. In 2012, R4 expanded to Senegal and implementation started this year in Malawi and Zambia.

The Evidence Shows It’s Working

The first assessment of R4 in Ethiopia shows insured farmers save 123% more than the uninsured, buy 25% more oxen and invest in seeds, fertilizer and productive assets. In one cluster, farmers increased their reserves of grain over 250% more than uninsured farmers.

Women, like Binta and Zemada, often heading the poorest households, are the ones achieving the largest gains in productivity, through investments in labor and improved planting materials.

What’s Next?

Given the results and the growing evidence WFP and its partners are working to scale up R4. By 2017, we hope to have reached 100,000 farmers with insurance and other risk management tools. 


The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) has released a study demonstrating that weather-based index insurance can help the rural poor on a large scale to become more food secure. The report features WFP and Oxfam America’s R4 Rural Resilience Initiative (R4) as one of the five most significant efforts to expand insurance coverage to people who need it the most.

10/13/2014 - 18:40
Aid professionals

Freetown, Sierra Leone: When John Crisci, an Emergency Coordinator with WFP, came back last week from a field mission in Port Loko, a district about 45 miles east of Freetown, his heart was filled with bitterness and sorrow. In his 25 years of experience with WFP, Crisci had not encountered anything like the difficult circumstances he saw while conducting an assessment mission in the Petifu village.

“Last week, I witnessed Ebola firsthand in a small village, in an area which was quarantined and isolated,” he said. “What struck me most of all was that I saw two young children suffering from Ebola lying in front of the house, and the mother was there helpless.”

As a parent, Crisci thought the mother would embrace the children and comfort them while they were suffering.  However, she couldn’t do that because the risk was too high that she would contract Ebola. Instead she had to just watch them powerlessly, hoping for an ambulance to come with a medical team to help.
After several hours, the ambulance arrived and the two children were taken to the nearest holding centre in Port Loko. But it was too late. One of them lost the battle against Ebola. The other is under intensive treatment.

“I hope to see him and his parents healthy when I come back next time in this village,” Crisci said as the child was fighting for life against the Ebola virus.
Crisci’s experience is only one among hundreds of tales of Ebola since the disease became a national concern in Sierra Leone, causing the government to declare a state of emergency on 30 July 2014.

According to the World Health Organization, as of 8 October, nearly 3,000 people across the country have been infected, resulting in 930 deaths since the outbreak. Treatment and holding centres are already overwhelmed and their operational capacities are exhausted. In an effort to contain the spread of the disease, 5 out of 13 districts have been quarantined, restricting the unnecessary movement of those who have potentially been in contact with Ebola-infected people.

In response to the outbreak, the World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up its operations to reach about 600,000 people who have been affected by the Ebola crisis. WFP food assistance helps Ebola patients get the nutrients they need for their bodies to be able to fight the virus. In the quarantined areas, WFP food ensures that people have enough to eat and do not have to leave their homes to look for food.

Beyond the food response, WFP is shifting gears and is supplying key technical assistance, particularly to medical partners, in this unprecedented health emergency. This includes construction, logistics, storage, procurement and transport. WFP is also working with humanitarian partners to boost telecommunications coverage in affected areas to ensure timely response to Ebola.

To ensure continued assistance over the next six months, WFP requires USD 24 million for its Ebola emergency operation in Sierra Leone.

Find Out More

Learn more about WFP's response to the Ebola emergency 

The unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa continues to cause distress and sorrow among families. John Crisci, an experienced aid worker who has been coordinating the WFP emergency response to Ebola in Sierra Leone, tells us about an experience he has never had in his life.

10/01/2014 - 19:01
Aid professionals

WFP organized a mission to assess the current emergency telecommunications infrastructure and capacity of the National Institute of Civil Defense (INDECI) and their partners nationwide: the Operations Centers of Regional Emergency (COER) and the Ministry of Health (MINSA).

This mission was carried out on 12-21 May 2014 with the support of the Fast IT and Telecommunications Emergency and Support Team (FITTEST, based in Dubai). FITTEST experts assessed nine strategic regions at the request of INDECI: Lima, Piura, San Martín, Arequipa, Puno, Tacna, Moquegua, Ayacucho y Huancavelica.

WFP Information Technology Officer reporting the mission at INDECI headquarteers

A final report of this mission was presented by the WFP Information Technology Officer, Juan Joseli, at INDECI headquarters on 17 September 2014. The session was opened by the INDECI Director, Major General, Alfredo Murgueytio, and the WFP Representative in Peru, Sheila Grudem. Among other participants were representatives of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MTC), Ministry of Health (MINSA), Peruvian Red Cross, Radio Amateurs of Peru, the Armed Forces Joint Command and UN agencies.

The report shows that the actual emergency telecommunications system needs to be strengthen in order to fulfill its role and to ensure proper care in case of a major emergency in Peru. It also recommends coordination among actors to organize a forum on this issue; to upgrade their telecommunications infrastructure; to improve telecommunications protocols and standards; and to develop the Information Technology and Communications staff capacities.

INDECI Headquarters listening to the mission announcement

Based on its experience and leadership in emergency situations in the areas of food security, logistics and telecommunications, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) established as one of its priorities to strengthen the government’s capacities to respond to natural disasters in Peru.

08/18/2014 - 22:24
Aid professionals

Mario Sibrian is the World Food Programme Regional Air Safety Officer in Nairobi, but he is currently based in Juba, the capital city of the youngest nation: South Sudan, a country ravaged by conflict and food insecurity, and one of the five largest WFP emergency operations in the world.

Mario and other air safety officers in WFP airplaneHe is a retired Honduran Air Force Major and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of San Pedro Sula. He firmly believes that the combination of these professional areas have allowed him to carry out his duties in WFP’s large scale emergency operations. He was involved in humanitarian initiatives in Post-war Iraq (2003), the Mozambique Floods (2003 and 2008), the devastating tsunami that hit Asia (2005), the Pakistan Earthquake (2005), the Cyclones in Madagascar (2009 and 2010), the Haiti Earthquake (2010), the Pakistan Floods (2010) and the Haiyan Typhoon in the Philippines (2013).

“I met Mario for the first time during the Haiti operation in 2010,” said WFP Air Transportation Officer, German Puente, in Bentiu/Rubkona, South Sudan. “He worked very hard with us to instruct crews on how to operate in a hostile environment. On another occasion, in Pakistan, we were asked to facilitate the assembly of three helicopters to operate as soon as possible. Without his assistance and capacity, it would have taken much longer to start the air support.”

Working in the most high risk operations, delivering food in an extremely congested airspace and in the most difficult weather conditions, transporting the injured, managing air operations or working in the most dangerous airports in the world, has not stopped Mario to fulfill the mandate of the World Food Programme.

Mario speaking before WFP"Working with WFP is very rewarding and satisfying personally and professionally. I have been given the opportunity to contribute my knowledge and experience in the field of aviation and business administration, for the benefit of humanity," he said.

Mario thanks God for the opportunity, and is grateful to WFP and the donor community for supporting him and his colleagues with resources to carry out their humanitarian mission to deliver food and bring relief to communities in need.

To help those who are in need has been part of a legacy that his father, a physician, sewed in his heart when he was a child. Mario Sibrian, a Honduran national working in South Sudan for WFP Aviation, has been living up to his father's legacy for the last 14 years. That is his driving force behind his commitment to humanitarian assistance during the tsunami in Asia, the Haiti Earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

06/06/2014 - 10:36
Aid professionals

One child in four in this world suffers from stunting caused by poor nutrition during the first thousand days of his or her life.  This translates into an estimated 165 million children who pay a high individual price by missing out on the opportunity to meet their full potential in growth and development. But there is another price paid and it is measurable in GDP . Do you know how much child undernutrition is costing economies in Africa? A groundbreaking study, the Cost of Hunger in Africa, is researching this issue.

More than 90 percent of the world’s stunted children live in Africa and Asia. While progress has been made in reducing the burden of stunting globally, child undernutrition continues to be a persistent challenge for Africa.  

Good nutrition, especially during the critical window of opportunity during the first 1,000 days of life, can make all the difference in ensuring good health and child development.  Undernutrition has lifelong consequences for individuals, including poor health and reduced performance in school. In addition, undernutrition also has wide-ranging impacts on communities and countries as a whole. Beyond the human costs, undernutrition has real implications on overall national development and global economies.

The Cost of Hunger in Africa study (COHA), a flagship initiative of the African Union Commission (AUC) implemented with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), estimates the economic cost of undernutrition to be between USD$77 million to USD$3.7 billion every year (2-16% of GDP) due to losses from optimum revenue from labour productivity and preventable increases in public and private costs related to health and education. In addition, there is the “opportunity cost” – the missed opportunity resulting from premature death due to undernutrition. The study further estimates that in Africa, countries can generate economic savings ranging between US$ 60 million to US$2 billion, in reduced morbidity, lower repetition in school and incremental productivity both in manual and non-manual sectors.

The study so far conducted in five countries in Africa – Egypt, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Swaziland and Uganda- strongly illustrates both the social and economic consequences of undernutrition.

Ensuring access to nutritious foods is an essential component in preventing the irreversible forms of child undernutrition, helping to break the intergeneration cycle of malnutrition. Yet, despite the availability of recognized and efficient interventions to address child undernutrition, the number of undernourished children in Africa has been on the rise. Sadly, today there are more stunted children in Africa than 20 years ago.

One year ago, the Lancet medical journal announced that 45% of child deaths can be attributed to malnutrition, helping to illustrate the urgent need for the scale-up of nutrition interventions. Responding to this need, government leaders, UN Agencies and private partners came together to sign the Nutrition for Growth compact.  

Now, the findings from the Cost of Hunger study further support the evidence base for prioritizing investments in child nutrition. Most importantly, the results from the study have served as a wakeup call for policy makers, raising awareness and action for nutrition at the highest level. In addition, the study further highlighted the multisectoral, interconnectedness of nutrition, hence calling for a renewed commitment and strong leadership at the highest political level with a concerted and coordinated approach.

It was against this background that African Ministers renewed their commitments by setting ambitious goals for reducing child stunting by as much as by half by the year 2025 at the recent AU joint Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture held at the African Union Commission in May 2014.  

A recent progress review study conducted in Ethiopia, Swaziland and Uganda revealed policy and programmatic level changes spurred as a result of the findings of the COHA study, including stimulating countries to joining the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement. For instance, in Swaziland the national safety net programme has been revised to include children from birth instead of just school children from the age of six as per the initial proposal.

The time for Africa is now! The social and economic transformation agenda of the continent cannot be effectively achieved unless child undernutrition is addressed as a priority. Nutrition For Growth means giving children a better future and allowing people and countries reach their full potential.


The Nutrition for Growth compact signed a year ago in London by government leaders, UN agencies and private partners, put the fight against undernutrition in the spotlight.  WFP’s Ella Getahun looks at the link between childhood undernutrition and countries’ economic performance as highlighted in the Cost of Hunger in Africa study.

05/07/2014 - 15:52
Aid professionals

As world leaders determine the goals and targets for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda over the coming months, we must make sure that both production – through sustainable improvements in agricultural productivity – and access – meaning that the poorest and most vulnerable people can obtain adequate food and have good nutrition – receive equal attention.

Even though there is enough food for everyone in the world today, about 842 million people continue to suffer from chronic hunger. 162 million children, or 1 in 4 worldwide, are stunted. If we are to make sustained progress towards eliminating poverty, hunger and malnutrition, the Post-2015 Development Agenda must recognize the critical importance of inclusive national food and nutrition systems that facilitate direct access to food for the most vulnerable.  

As highlighted by a recent report by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Food Security and Nutrition and the Post-2015 Development Goals, increasing the availability of food can be achieved through improvements in agricultural productivity, nutrition-sensitive approaches to development policy, and greater levels of investment in smallholder farmers.

The World Food Programme (WFP) fully supports the report’s emphasis on women farmers and the critical role that women play in improving agricultural production, household income, and nutrition. Increasing household income and food availability at the national and sub-national level are essential elements of global efforts to eradicate hunger.

Adequate food at all times

At the same time, we believe that the Post-2015 Development Agenda must attach equal importance to ensuring that all people can obtain adequate food at all times. Consumption of adequate, nutritious food is critical to maintaining health and economic productivity.  A recent Cost of Hunger in Africa study , for example, found the economic cost of stunting to be between 1.9 and 16.5 percent of GDP.

Improving nutrition in adolescent girls and pregnant and nursing women is essential for long-term development. Good nutritional status during adolescence, conception, and throughout pregnancy plays a pivotal role in early child development and growth. Research published in the 2013 Lancet series shows that having access to nutritious food during the first 1,000 days - from conception to a child’s second birthday - makes a substantial contribution to reducing undernutrition, including the prevalence of stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies.  

What does access mean? Even when adequate food is available on domestic markets, poverty, inequality and social exclusion prevent the poorest people from getting enough food to live healthy and productive lives.  

Poor and vulnerable households, who spend as much as 80 percent of their income on food, are particularly at risk and are often in need of targeted measures to ensure access through safety nets and targeted nutritional programmes.

 When conflict or natural disasters strike, the most vulnerable can be pushed to the tipping point, requiring immediate humanitarian response and subsequent efforts to stabilize prices, rebuild markets and support livelihoods.  

Balanced approach to food security

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge takes a balanced and comprehensive approach to food security and malnutrition. It has five principal elements which recognize the interdependence and complementarity of availability and access to food.

These are: eliminating stunting in children under two years of age; guaranteeing universal access to adequate and nutritious food; ensuring that all food systems are sustainable; achieving a 100 percent increase in the productivity and income of smallholder farmers; and eradicating food waste and loss.

Based on this framework, WFP has worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development to propose targets and indicators for a comprehensive approach to Food Security, Nutrition, and Sustainable Agriculture.  The targets proposed by the Rome-based Agencies of the United Nations are as follows:

1.    Access to food: All people have access to adequate (safe, affordable, diverse and nutritious) food all year round.

2.    Malnutrition: End malnutrition in all its forms (under-nutrition, micro-nutrient deficiencies and over-nutrition), with special attention to ending stunting.

3.    Sustainable food systems: All food production systems become more productive, sustainable, resilient and efficient - minimizing adverse environmental impact without compromising food and nutrition security.

4.    Smallholder productivity: All small food producers, especially women, have secure access to adequate inputs, knowledge, productive resources and services to increase their productivity sustainably and improve their income and resilience.

5.    Food loss and waste: More efficient post-production food systems (harvest, handling and storage, processing and packaging, transport and consumption) that reduce the global rate of food loss and waste by 50 percent.

As recognized in the Zero Hunger Challenge, these important objectives represent complementary aspects of the incredible effort that is required to eradicate world hunger in this generation.


A truly comprehensive approach is needed now to address food insecurity and malnutrition at a global level, writes Brian Bogart, programme policy advisor at the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

04/14/2014 - 18:39
Aid professionals, Food Security Analysis, Responding to Emergencies

ROME – Syrians are facing yet another challenge as a UN special report warns of a looming drought, which would have devastating consequences in a country already struggling in the midst of conflict.

WFP’s Syria coordinator, Muhannaad Hadi, says: “It has taken a massive effort from WFP and partners to scale up to reach 4 million people in March, but we fear now that a possible drought – if rainfall doesn’t pick up – could put the lives of millions more at risk.“

Low rainfall and poor crop development will have a huge impact on the next cereal harvest, while wheat production is already at an all-time low.  To make matters worse, the conflict has already damaged pumps and canals, caused power failures and destroyed tractors, making food production impossible.

The UN report  highlights how a potential drought would strain the country’s already fragile food security situation, stating: ‘The situation will not change while conflict lasts and its resolution will take considerable time if and when peace is restored to Syria.”

In recent few weeks, WFP has succeeded in reaching all 14 Syrian governorates for the first time in six months, although many areas still remain inaccessible as the conflict continues. In addition, WFP provides food and vouchers on a monthly basis for 1.5 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

Funded entirely by voluntary contributions, WFP needs to raise around US$40 million a week to finance what is its biggest and most complex operation.

The ongoing conflict is making it almost impossible for Syrians to access food and now a looming drought threatens to put the lives of millions more at risk.