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Executive Director's Videos

ADEN/SANA’A – The Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, Ertharin Cousin, who has been visiting Yemen, urged the international community to help prevent a famine by providing resources to meet the immediate needs of the severely food insecure. Cousin also pleaded with the warring parties and authorities in Aden and Sana’a for access to reach hungry people who will die if they do not receive food and nutrition support. Yemen, Somalia and northeastern Nigeria are each on the brink of a famine. Last month, famine was declared to be affecting parts of Unity State in South Sudan. As the poorest country in the region, Yemen has suffered from decades of chronic food insecurity, and the situation has deteriorated rapidly in the last two years due to the ongoing conflict. 

WFP is extremely concerned about the critical food insecurity situation in northeastern Nigeria, regardless of whether a famine can technically be declared. In Boko Haram-affected areas, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, 4.7 million people are facing hunger, of whom 1.8 million people are in need of emergency food assistance. By end of December 2016, WFP had assisted more than a million people, including more than 796,000 with life-saving food, 171,000 with cash-based transfers and 192,000 children with specialized food to combat malnutrition. The rapid response is part of WFP’s larger operational plan to gradually scale up to reach 1.8 million people a month with food and nutrition support in 2017. 

PORT-AU-PRINCE – The United Nations World Food Programme will launch an emergency operation to assist 1 million people devastated by three years of prolonged drought exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon. An estimated 3.6 million people, or one-third of Haiti’s population, face food insecurity. This number includes more than 1.5 million who are severely food insecure and do not know where their next meal is coming from, according to an assessment by WFP and the National Coordination for Food Security. In coordination with the National School Meals Programme, WFP delivers daily hot meals to 485,000 schoolchildren in over 1,700 schools in nine of Haiti’s 10 departments until the end of April. Unless new donations are received, the programme will only reach 320,000 children as of May 2016.

The current El Niño, which began in early 2015, has at least matched the strongest on record, affecting the food security of a vast number of vulnerable people around the globe.  The current El Niño is comparable to that of 1997/98, which killed some 23,000 people, displaced hundreds of thousands, and resulted in some $45 billion in damages. WFP could be stretched operationally and financially during 2016 as the impact of El Niño translates into increased food-assistance needs across most areas of operations. This highlights the necessity of increased investment in disaster-risk reduction, early warning, climate-change adaptation and resilience building. WFP is responding with such measures as: prepositioning stocks of food, for example in cyclone-prone Madagascar and in Haiti, where earthquakes and drought wreak havoc; planning water deliveries in Lesotho where shortages are being felt; distributing high-energy biscuits as emergency food to flood victims in Somalia.

MILAN – Speaking today at World Food Day events in Italy, Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, appealed to the entire global community to take action and help to ensure that the world achieves #ZeroHunger. She invited everyone to mark World Food Day by posting #ZeroHunger on social media. No one individual or organization owns #ZeroHunger, which is the goal we share and the world we want. WFP encourages people to join a new community Facebook page and switch their profile page to highlight a striking white circle representing the target of Zero Hunger. According to The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 report, 795 million people suffer from hunger today, down 167 million from a decade ago. To speed up progress and save countless lives and build stronger futures by 2030, it would take an annual investment of US$265 billion – about 0.3 percent of the global Gross Domestic Product. The economic benefit of ending hunger, however, is calculated to be worth about 5 percent of global GDP.