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How We Help

The differences we make
Every day, we make a difference to the lives of millions of people. Each of these people has a story to tell. And so do the WFP staff who make it happen. You can read some of these stories here.

69416
08/31/2011 - 13:46
First time here, Focus on Women, Food For Assets, Preventing Hunger

NAIROBI -- As people in other parts of northwestern Kenya’s Turkana region queue for food aid to help them through the drought, Nangor Lobongia is among several thousand smallholder farmers who have been able to harvest a reasonable crop of sorghum and maize.

Nangor is a member of the Morulem Irrigation Scheme in Turkana East. For three years, the farmers had to depend on relief food after the scheme collapsed, first due to drought and then to floods, which destroyed irrigation channels and but also left farms and villages submerged in water.

“I sing for joy as I harvest my crop,” says Nangor, a widowed mother of seven. “The last three years were very difficult, and for the first time, my family had to depend on aid. I thank God that WFP helped us to rehabilitate our project and we can grow food again.” 

18,000 beneficiaries

The work of digging out the clogged irrigation channels and mending other infrastructure was carried out by local farmers under the supervision of the Kenyan Ministry of Water and Irrigation, through the Turkana Rehabilitation Programme. WFP lent a crucial hand through its Food-for-Assets (FFA) programme. 

WFP provided the farmers with food and non-food items, including farm tools and seeds, as part of the rehabilitation of the project. According to the chairman of the scheme, Phillip Esinyon, 18,000 people are benefitting.

At Kalobeyei in Turkana West, former pastoralist Sara Ekwuam is hosting several of her pastoralist relatives who have temporarily moved in with her after they heard she had a good harvest.

Artificial ponds

“Previously my family depended on pastoralism but over time the rains became less and less, and we were unable to find pasture and water for our livestock. As a result we were forced to depend on relief,” said Sara.

With support from WFP, Sara and other farmers in Kalobeyei have constructed soil ‘bunds’ – artificial ponds that hold rainwater and keep crops growing even when there is little rainfall.

“Although we didn’t get a lot of rain, the water in the bunds was enough to grow this sorghum crop to maturity,” she said, pointing at her harvest. “I harvested 10 bags. I will sell 5 of them to buy other things that I need and keep 5 bags.” 

Turkana is one of the 15 districts where WFP is implementing FFA projects in partnership with the Kenyan government. Through FFA, WFP works with communities to improve their resilience and help them build assets that will improve their food security. In arid districts of northern Kenya, these projects focus on rainwater harvesting, micro-irrigation, and soil- and water-conservation.

 

 

The rebuilding of an irrigation scheme in northern Kenya last year has turned out to be crucial for farmers like Nangor Lobongia. It has meant she and her family have avoided joining the thousands now queueing for food aid in the drought-hit Turkana region.

37938
07/08/2011 - 15:54
Focus on Women, Nutrition, Responding to Emergencies

by Ahnna Gudmunds

JUBA -- Seven months pregnant, 23-year-old Achok Ajou Cyer was resting before dinner, waiting for the okra to boil on the charcoal stove.  Suddenly, the sound of an explosion boomed in her village, just outside of Abyei town, and she knew exactly what was going on.

"There is nothing like the sound of a gun," says Achok.  "You get stiff and cold inside."

When she heard the sound of gunfire and shelling, she knew that the only thing she could do was run.  Run as fast as a seven-month pregnant woman is able run.

Her husband ran behind her, carrying their one year-old son Mou.  For several days the family hiked in the bush, heading south towards Warrap State in South Sudan. Once they felt the situation was safer, they went out on the road and joined thousands of others escaping the conflict.  "We slept under trees and ate what we could find," Achok says.

Assistance waiting

It took them a week to reach Mayen Abun, where humanitarian assistance was waiting.  Achok was registered as an IDP (Internally Displaced Person) together with her family so they were able to receive food, plastic sheets for shelter and other basic necessities.  "Back home I was a farmer: I had a garden with dura, maize and okra. Without my garden I have nothing.  Now, the WFP food is the only food I have."

Achok, who will give birth to her second baby in a couple months, also received a "delivery kit" and has been instructed on how to use it.

Her son Mou, who started growing weaker during the seven days on the road fleeing south, has been checked for malaria at a mobile clinic.  He will soon also receive a ration of Plumpy'Doz, a peanut paste which helps to prevent malnutrition in children under two. 

 

As South Sudan celebrates its birth as a nation, the new country continues to receive a flow of families displaced by conflict in the contested border area of Abyei. Among the new arrivals is Achok Ajou Cyer, who has taken refuge in the town of Mayen Abun, where she is now receiving WFP assistance.

31159
03/24/2011 - 10:23
Aid professionals, Logistics

By Jordan Cox

ROME -- In June of 2009, a WFP food convoy set out on the Sobat river in South Sudan. As the 27 boats reached a stretch of the river close to the Ethiopian border, a local militia stopped them. The militia was mostly made up of young men and boys. They were called the White Army and they were brandishing rifles they often used in livestock raids.

The White Army was suspicious. There were dozens of soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army — or SPLA — escorting the shipment, and no one from WFP. Things got worse when the militia discovered who the convoy was destined for: the Luo Nuer, the very tribe that had raided them only weeks before.  

Special WFP Award


For his efforts in re-opening the dangerous Sobat river passage and keeping traffic moving ever since, WFP awarded Mark Diang  the organization’s 2010 Award of Merit.

In the photo above (copyright WFP/Rein Skullerud)Mark is shown receiving his award from WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran during a ceremony at the organization's Rome headquarters.

A few of the barges were opened for inspection — nothing but sorghum and other food. But the convoy was not allowed to pass. For the militia, a shipment of food coming through their territory and bound for their enemies was a big problem. The Sobat river is the effective border between these two warring tribes.

Under attack

Gunfire broke out and the convoy came under attack. When the shooting finished, about 100 people were dead — not just dozens of SPLA soldiers, but civilians too. Some barges sank to the river floor, others turned back, and all commercial and aid traffic on the river was immediately shut down. 

Needing a way to deliver food, WFP had to resort to expensive air drops. Even so, it was able to transport only part of the food needed.

And if it wasn’t for Mark Diang, a former child soldier now working for WFP as a security assistant in Malakal, those air drops might have gone on far longer. Born in 1981 in Bentiu, South Sudan, Mark was recruited into the SPLA before he was a teenager. After making it out, he worked for Medecins Sans Frontiers and the UNCHR before joining WFP in late 2008.

Three months after the deadly ambush on the Sobat River, and with WFP ready to find out if the river was safe for travel, Mark came forward with a plan. Security services were reluctant, but “we believed it could work,” said Henry Chamberlain, a Security Coordinator in South Sudan. For the first assessment, “we travelled all the way down there — Mark and I, plus some UN security officers — and we brought along the main tribal chief of the Jikany Nuer.”

Tensions high

The river had yet to reopen, and tensions ran high. The groups involved in the conflict are part of the greater Nuer people — the militia that attacked the convoy was made up of various communities of Jikany Nuer, while the food was destined for people of the Luo Nuer tribe. Fortunately, Mark is Nuer himself, which became crucial in the days and weeks ahead.

Mark knew these communities and helped open a lot of doors. “Mark has a good rapport with the chief — they communicate well,” said Henry. “That was enough to gain access to the communities along the river. And it was Mark, going in and talking with them, that convinced these communities it was possible to work with us."

Mark explained his approach: “We would go and say: ‘we’re the World Food Programme, we have no part in whatever conflict you have, whether tribal or political — we’re just here to support needy people.’"

His honesty worked. “I’d sit down on the ground with the young men. I'd call them ‘quor’ — it means boss, or big man, in the Nuer dialect. I’m one of them — I made myself very simple. I suggested I go with the convoys," he said, so the tribe would know that someone from WFP — someone they could trust — was taking the food down.

River re-opened

“Now, whenever we have any convoys, we make sure someone from WFP is on board, and I give the communities [along the river] a phone number to call, so we can let them know we’re coming,” said Mark.

And almost always, the person travelling with the convoy has been Mark.  “Mark would go on his own with the WFP boats and the tribal chief, and he’d let the communities know there were no issues, no problems in going back and forth with the food,” said Henry.

Once convoys were able to pass through the area safely, the river was opened again. By September, air drops had stopped, and river traffic has been moving ever since.

Mark’s work paid off in other ways, too. He found out “the militia’s communities weren’t getting food,” said Henry. Once Mark worked to “boost the relationship and trust between WFP and [the tribes]”, he could help WFP better track who else needed help in the area. Mark’s still working as a security assistant out of the Malakal sub-office. Although “the atmosphere after [the January referendum] has changed,” he said, tribal conflict continues. As long as it does, Mark’s presence will be invaluable.

 

 

Not too long ago, Mark Diang was a child soldier in southern Sudan. Thankfully, he managed to leave that life behind and he now works for WFP as a security assistant. He recently received a special award from WFP for his critical role in negotiating safe passage for urgent food aid along a dangerous river route.

31034
03/15/2011 - 13:30
Responding to Emergencies

SHOUSHA CAMP, Tunisia - Benjamin planned to work in Libya for three years and send his earnings to his family in Ghana. Instead, he stayed just 11 months in Tripoli, earning little before violence sweeping the North African country forced him to run for his life.

Now, the 23-year-old Ghanaian plaster worker counts among more than 17,000 migrants packed into the Shousha transit camp on Tunisia's border with Libya. Some 2,300 are from Ghana, waiting for planes to go home. The World Food Programme is running the camp's biggest food operation, serving 15,000 cooked meals daily.

As he tucked into his first hot meal in days -- WFP-provided pasta, bread and an orange -- Benjamin recounted how he sought work in Libya as a casual labourer but was unable to save money to send to his family.

"I only sent them money once, a couple hundred dollars," said Benjamin, who hasn't worked since December.

"We are too many in Libya," he added of the hundreds of thousands of African migrant workers who have flocked to the oil-rich nation in recent years. They all competed for menial jobs, mostly in the construction business.

As violence gripped the Libyan capital, Benjamin's landlord helped protect him. "He told us to stay inside the house and not go out. Anything we needed he would buy for us," he said.

Although he doesn't want to go home, returning to Libya is unthinkable. "In Ghana we work a lot for very little money, but still I would never go back to Libya. You can die there," Benjamin said.

A safe place

Like Benjamin, many migrant workers at Shousha camp say it was too dangerous to be on Libya's streets. Those African workers who braved the fighting and ventured out were singled out and harassed. Stores were only open a few hours daily and sometimes shopkeepers refused to sell them anything because they were foreigners.

Many say they arrived here after a perilous journey.

"I'm glad I'm here now, this is a nice place, a safe place, I have everything I need," said another Ghanaian migrant worker, Frank, who has spent three days at the transit camp.

After three years as a construction worker in Libya -- earning around US $300 a month --Frank, 25, now has a small savings back in Ghana.

"It's not too much but it is enough for me," he said, adding, "all I want is a plane to take me back to my country.

Benjamin counts among 2,300 Ghanaians who fled the unrest gripping Libya and are now packed into the Shousha transit camp on Tunisia's border. While he doesn't want to go home, returning to Libya is unthinkable.

29922
01/07/2011 - 09:23
Food For Assets, Nutrition, Preventing Hunger, Procurement, School Meals

ROME -- One year ago Haiti was devastated by its biggest earthquake in two centuries. The humanitarian community launched a massive relief operation to meet the immediate needs of the people left homeless and hungry. Our role was to deliver urgently needed food aid to the quake survivors. See photo gallery

As the country started to rebuild, the focus of operations in Haiti shifted from short-term needs to the long term challenge. Now, 12 months on, WFP’s goal is to help Haiti get to the point where it can feed itself and become more resilient to natural disasters. See photo gallery

This is no easy task and requires progress in a wide range of areas. But food assistance has a key role to play.  Here are four Haitians who are receiving WFP support as they help their country move towards food security.

8-year-old school girl

Marie Anika can only hope to achieve her dream of working in a bank if she studies hard in school. If she succeeds, she will earn more in later life, be less susceptible to hunger and help the Haitian economy develop. WFP school meals are keeping her in school and helping her focus on her studies.
Meet Marie

Would-be beautician

Cassandre is part of a team that is clearing quake rubble from roads and drainage channels. By doing so she is helping repair the infrastructure which is essential for the Haitian economy to develop. As she works for her community, she is receiving food rations from WFP to support her family. 
Meet Cassandre
   

Nursing mother

Farah naturally wants her two baby daughters to grow up strong, physically and mentally. If they do, they will be able to support themselves and their families when they are older and their children are less likely to be hungry. WFP is providing Farah with nutritious food for her children.
Meet Farah
   

Dairy farmer

Jean Claude has only 10 cows. In order to be financially secure and to increase production, he needs a reliable market for his milk. Now, thanks to a pilot project run by WFP, he has that. He delivers his milk to a cooperative, which then sells it to WFP to give to children in schools.
Meet Jean Claude
   

 

One year after the earthquake, WFP is helping Haitians move beyond the disaster and start building a future free from hunger. Our food assistance provides meals for children in school, shields babies and mothers from malnutrition, helps economic recovery and supports small farmers.

29349
11/22/2010 - 01:22
Focus on Women, Nutrition

BEMH-- Assétau Bagagnan, 30, would not have been able to treat her child’s malnutrition, had it not been for the Bemh community nutrition centre.

“I have no money at all. My husband and I work hard to grow millet and maize on our farmland. But we can barely feed ourselves and our children,” she said. “This centre has been a godsend. They treated my 14-month-old son Sayouba and are still helping me to feed him properly. All for free.”

Assétau and her son are now among more than 185, 000 beneficiaries of WFP supplementary feeding programme in Burkina Faso.

Breaking the hunger cycle

Ensuring that mothers and children get the nutrition their bodies need is a vital step in breaking the hunger cycle.

Learning about nutrition

A mother of four, Assétau says that before coming to the WFP-supported Bemh community centre, she did not even know what malnutrition really was. She only began learning how important a balanced and nutritious diet was after seeing the effect it had on her children.

“I used to think that as long as you somehow got your belly full, then you were well-fed and in good health. But then I fell sick and my son, Sayouba, was just 8 months old at the time became underweight,” said Assétau.

“I got really scared. I didn’t know what to do. So the village women sent me to the Bemh nutrition centre.”

Bemh, a community of 2,100 people, is tucked away in an isolate corner of the Yatenga province of northern Burkina Faso, where rates of malnutrition are among the highest in West Africa.

The Bemh nutrition centre draws women from as far as 15 km away who come by foot to have their children treated for malnutrition. They also receive a monthly ration of vegetable oil and corn-soya blend (CSB) used to make a nourishing porridge for their families.

Family's breadwinner

Assétau absorbs a wealth of important information through the discussions she takes part in at the centre. These cover hygiene practices, how best to prevent malaria and the risks involved in weaning children too early—a primary cause of child malnutrition in the area.

Like many women in Burkina Faso, Assétau is her family’s main breadwinner. Only recently, she was left to care for her family alone when her husband went to the capital, Ouagadougou, to try to make some cash by doing odd jobs ahead of harvest time.

She learned this role from her own mother, who raised her and her siblings on her own after her father left them to fend for themselves when she was only three.

Now that her son is healthy again, Assétau is sharing what she learned with her fellow mothers and says they’ll all be better equipped to raise healthier children with this new knowledge.

Assétau Bagagnan, a mother of four, says she knew nothing at all about the importance of getting the right vitamins and nutrients before bringing her malnourished baby son to a feeding centre in rural Burkina Faso. Armed with this new knowledge, she says she’s now better equipped to care for her family.

29220
11/16/2010 - 09:21
Preventing Hunger

ROSSO—In the shade of an acacia grove, Kalidouba holds up a sticky ball of tree sap the size and shape of a marble and says it’s the greatest source of promise for community of 40 families trying to rebuild their lives after a long and brutal struggle.

Around him, men and women tend to the gum trees, gathering the sap, which seeps out of the tree trunks in orange-coloured globs. Dried and hardened, gum arabic is a remarkably versatile product found in everything from bubble gum to fireworks.

“Everyone participates in maintaining the trees,” says Kalidouba, president of the village-elected management committee, explaining that the entire community has a stake in its success.

Since 2009, WFP has been working with Kalidouba and his neighbours to raise the gum tree nursery and use the Arabic gum it produces to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.

Gum to rebuild

In 1989, Kalidouba’s family were among over 60,000 people in southern Mauritania who fled into Senegal and Mali after violence erupted between the Moorish and Negro-African communities.

They returned in 2007 at the government’s invitation and with the promise of help from international organisations like WFP, which provided food and other basic necessities to over 24,000 returning refugees. Later WFP provided food aid to people in exchange for work on projects designed  to get communities back on their feet.

For Kalidouba and his neighbours, that meant giving them the means—and food—to help them raise gum trees. The people of southern Mauritania have a long tradition of harvesting gum arabic, a natural adhesive and stabilizer used to make soft drinks and chewy candies, not to mention postage stamps, cosmetics and paints.

Locally, the villagers use it to weave floor mats, wash clothes and treat wounds.

No easy job

However, growing anything on the edge of the Sahara desert can be risky. In addition to water shortages and erratic rainfall, the gum harvesters also have to be mindful of pests which eat the tree sap.

But Kalidouba says the earnings from the sales of the gum allow the community to to build houses, dig wells and plant more trees, making it all worthwhile.

“No matter how great the challenges, we are determined to keep these trees alive,” he said. “We’re trying to rebuild our lives here.”

Gum arabic, a common food ingredient which makes bubblegum chewy and postage stamps stick, may also be offering a way out of poverty for a group of returning refugees in southern Mauritania. With the earnings from their new gum tree nursery, they’re investing in wells, homes, more trees and a future free from hunger.

29207
11/15/2010 - 18:12
Students And Teachers, Food For Assets, Nutrition, Responding to Emergencies

ISLAMABAD — After launching a major food relief operation in August that fed over 3 million victims of the unprecedented monsoon floods, WFP has ramped up quickly to feed more than 7 million people around the country. Get the latest on the operation

What exactly are flood victims receiving from WFP?

WFP Country Director Wolfgang Herbinger answers this question and more in a six-question interview. Read more
 

Hunger Facts

Pakistan suffered from widespread hunger even before the monsoon floods, with an estimated 82.6 million people – a little less than half the population – estimated to be food insecure.
 

Here are five ways that WFP's food aid is helping: 

1. Feeding a devastated nation

Weeks after the floodwaters receded in most of the country, a huge area in the southern Sindh province is still underwater and could remain so for several months. Some 1 million people in the region are living in camps and still in need of emergency food aid to survive.

  • Find out how food aid reaches families in Sindh’s flood zone

2. Keeping mothers and children nourished and healthy

One of the top priorities in any emergency situation is to ensure that nursing mothers and small children don’t go hungry. To keep malnutrition at bay among the weakest and most vulnerable, WFP is delivering ready-to-use foods -- tailored to the nutritional needs of children under five -- to thousands of families around the country.

  • Find out how one mother learned to protect her two-year-old son

3. Bringing farmers back to their fields

The floods wiped out some 17 million acres of farmland, and even the farmers who were able to return after the waters receded risked missing the autumn planting season. Today, food assistance is helping several thousand farmers repair the damage and get seeds in the ground in time to harvest food for the winter.

  • Find out how one family have coped with the loss of their farm

4. Helping communities rebuild

In areas where the water has receded, people are hard at work to rebuild the roads, farms, orchards, homes and villages the floods swept away. WFP is providing cash and food while they build assets that will serve them over time. Food aid will ensure they have the strength and time to rebuild.

  • Find out how a family of returning refugees found a future in peach trees

5. Storing up food for the winter

The winter months are hard in Pakistan, particularly in the country’s Himalayan north, where many areas are completely isolated for months on end. To help people whose fields and livestock were whipped out by the floods make it through the winter, WFP has begun to preposition food so that local residents will have enough to eat.

  • Find out how a woman and her family of ten plan to make it through the winter

 

More than three months after catastrophic monsoon floods swept through Pakistan, WFP’s food assistance is helping in many ways. It brings relief to people who are still cut off by flood waters and helps families protect their children from malnutrition. It also supports those who are in a position to rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

28829
11/03/2010 - 10:15
Nutrition

CAIRO—The sound of frying foods is a familiar one in most Egyptian homes where the nation’s favourite foods like chips, courgettes and falafel are often cooked in vegetable oil. But for many, fried vegetables are all they can afford.

Laila Mohamed Ali, 30, is a mother of three from the Cairo suburb of Helwan. Like many Egyptians, she buys government-subsidised oil, which can cost as little as 3 Egyptian pounds per litre (around US $0.70) compared to the regular price of 11 pounds (US $2.00).

“Subsidised oil is the only kind I can afford,” said Laila as she cooks vegetables and potatoes for her children’s lunch. “We use oil three times a day. It’s something we can’t do without.”

In order to grow and thrive, Lail’s children need vitamins and nutrients that are missing from the foods that Laila can afford. To ensure that Egyptian children like hers get adequate nutrition, WFP has joined the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Egyptian government in launching a project to enrich the oil she uses to cook.  The oil is being fortified with vitamins A and D.

A vehicle for nutrition

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in two Egyptian children under five is anaemic. Moreover, a 2005 Demographic Health Survey showed that 45-percent of Egyptian mothers had not eaten any fruits or vegetables containing vitamin A in the 24 hours prior to the survey.

When deciding on a means to combat malnutrition in Egypt, oil makes an obvious choice. As of 2008, all Egyptians are entitled to 18 kg of subsidised oil per year, which reaches an estimated 80 percent of the population according to officials.

“We found that people do not eat enough fruit and vegetables and that is why we picked a food item people use in almost every meal,” said Azza Gohar, director of the National Nutrition Institute. “They do not need to change their eating habits.”

Better oil and bread

Gohar said the project, launched in November, could reach as many as 60 million people with vitamin enriched vegetable oil.

Oil is not the first nutritionally-enhanced food to find its way into Egyptian homes. A similar programme by WFP, GAIN and the government to fortify wheat flour has brought vitamin-enriched baladi bread into the homes of some 50 million people since 2008.

 

A project to bring nutritionally-enhanced vegetable oil into the homes of some 60 million people got underway this week in a bid to stem widespread malnutrition in Egypt. The joint effort makes use of Egypt’s vast subsidized food system to ensure that the country’s poorest get the vitamins and minerals they need.

28628
10/20/2010 - 10:44
Aid professionals

BUNIA— I first set foot on bright, red African soil as a wide-eyed 11-year-old. Our family home for most of six years was in a small village in the forested and relatively isolated northwest corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire), where my parents worked as teachers for a missionary agency.

My experiences there helped me to realize that I had a responsibility to help those who had grown up without the same education and opportunities I had always taken for granted—and spurred me to pursue relief and development as a career.

How we help in DRC

Helping families in DRC get back on their feet after long years of conflict is all in a day's work for humanitarian workers like Peter. Giving women the skills and nutrition they need to get ahead is one way to do that. Find out more

In April 2009, 14 years after leaving, I returned to Congo as the WFP’s head of programmes in the Bunia sub-office in northeastern Orientale Province.  The sights, sounds and smells of my childhood flooded my senses.

Coming home

As a child, my family lived in Tandala village, in Equateur province, about 1,000 km west of where I am now based.  It was a place where daily food came from the ground, where family included most of the village and where poverty was a way of life.

Like my Congolese friends I spent my days chatting in Lingala, playing football and eating the birds and antelope that we hunted.

Today I see reminders of my old life everywhere; people are busy and extroverted; when it rains, it pours. Water and electricity are celebrated, not expected. My tongue has rediscovered Lingala. And I can go months without seeing a paved road.

Grim realities

But this familiar experience belies the grim realities of poverty and hunger in a country torn by conflict and ranked near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index.

Days once spent climbing guava trees and fishing in rivers I now devote to planning and implementing food assistance activities for people struggling to survive amid violence, floods, drought, the HIV epidemic and grinding poverty.

Yet I am once again on the receiving end of my relationship with the DRC. To see its people’s determination to endure despite overwhelming physical and psychological hardship is incredibly rewarding.

Both personally and professionally, I have grown up as much during my past 16 months in Congo as when I lived here as a child so many years ago.

Peter Transburg spent much of his childhood in a remote corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo while his parents were there teaching. He returned last year as an adult, working for WFP. While he now sees things differently, he says there are many reminders of former days spent climbing guava trees and fishing in rivers.