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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.

08/27/2010 - 14:52
Responding to Emergencies

MULTAN – As floodwaters cascaded across Pakistan’s breadbasket in Punjab province, thousands of farmers have lost their homes, crops and livestock. Some 17 million acres were submerged by the flooding and over 200,000 animals killed.

Moreed, 29, and his family of five are among thousands of Punjabis facing an uncertain future as they wait for the waters to recede. They’ve been camped out in a makeshift tent on the side of a dirt road for the last two weeks, and say they don’t know when they’ll be able to go home.

"At least we have something to eat," said Moreed, whose family are among over 360,00 people in the area who recently received a month's ration of oil, wheat flour and high-energy biscuits. At a food distribution point not far off, helicopters have also flown in sachets of supplementary plumpy, a fortified peanut paste specialized designed to meet the nutritional needs of small children.

Helicopters have played a vital role in providing food assistance in the area around Multan, though more are needed to reach the over 800,000 people around the country currently cut off by road.

WFP video producer Marco Frattini is currently in Punjab, “the land of five rivers,” where epic floods have laid waste to millions of acres of farmland. In this video, he meets Moreed, whose family is living in a tent on the side of the road as they wait for the waters to recede. Watch video

08/04/2010 - 18:12
Responding to Emergencies

How bad is the situation where you are now?
Deluges in Northwestern Pakistan have caused heavy damage in at least 25 districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region where livestock have drowned, crops are underwater, bridges have collapsed and many roads have been completely washed away. The number of people affected by these floods is rising every day.

Amjad Jamal is a Public Information Officer based in Islamabad. A native of Pakistan, he worked for the national Tourism Development Coorporation before joining WFP in 2003.


Who are the people who have been affected?
This area is already home to more than one million people displaced by violence along the border with Afghanistan. The flooding was worst precisely in the communities where these people had come in search of refuge. Local residents have paid a heavy price in terms of lost lives and livelihoods, but perhaps the worst affected were the ones who had so little to begin with.

What is WFP doing to help them?
WFP has a strong and resourceful network of NGOs in the area who were already helping us deliver assistance to the over one million displaced people. We have launched food distributions in the areas worst where the flooding was heaviest- in the Peshawar and Swat ValleysMardan, Charsadda and Nowshera . Though we’re still working to determine the full extent of the damage, we hope to reach nearly half a million people with food aid by the end of the week.

What challenges are you facing?
A lot of areas are still cut off by the flood waters—people are in desperate need of help, but due to the damaged roads and bridges, it’s impossible to get to them. To make matters worse, the weather has not been good and we’re expecting more rain that will only exacerbate the situation. But we’re working hard to overcome these obstacles and we won’t stop until we’ve gotten to everyone.

The floods in Northwestern Pakistan have befallen one of the most volatile areas in the world where over one million people were already in flight from turmoil along the Afghan border. WFP Pakistan Spokesman Amjad Jamal explains what these floods have meant for them and what WFP is doing to help the scores of other people affected.

06/15/2010 - 16:59

PORT-AU-PRINCE – “It’s like magic,” beamed Brienne Charles as she watched the unassembled parts of her new home descend from a WFP-chartered helicopter on to the hilltop in southern Haiti.

“Now my children will have a decent place to sleep again,” said the 38-year-old mother of two, who has been living in a tent with her family since her home in the village of Petite Savane, 60 kilometers west of Port-au-Prince, was levelled by the January 12 earthquake.

Rough terrain

“They lost everything,” said Erika Hibon, who works with Un Techo Para Mi Pais, or, A Roof For My Country. The Chile-based NGO provides shelter for disaster victims, in this case prefabricated wooden houses easily transportable by truck and capable of quick assembly in a few hours.

Finding more permanent shelter for people who lost their homes has become increasingly urgent with the onset of the hurricane season and a large part of the population still living in tents.

The trouble with Brienne and her neighbours was the site of their homes at the top of a steep hill just outside Petite Savane. “There was no way to get a truck up there. So we went to the UN Logistics Cluster to see if they could help,” said Erika.

As the main provider of logistics services for the UN, and lead agency of its Logistics Cluster, WFP stepped up to meet the challenge. Its solution came in the form of a Russian-built MI 171 helicopter.

Help from above

“The MI 171 is ideal for this sort of task,” said Emmanuel Jarry, the WFP logistics officer in charge of the operation. “It has a sling capacity of four metric tons, easily enough to handle those houses.”

Parts for the three houses were trucked from Port-au-Prince to a site on the coast near Petite Savane and then airlifted up to the hilltop village. The job took all of a few hours – much to Brienne’s delight.

“It has been very hard for us since the earthquake,” she said. “We’re far from the main roads so we haven’t had much help. We need clothes and food and maybe some medicine. But at least now, we have a house to live in.”

Erika said the project could provide houses to many other people in the same situation. “This was an experiment to see if it could work. Now that we know it can be done, there are hundreds of other people in isolated villages all over the mountains that we may be able to help.”


Getting the job done
Delivering food assistance to 90 million people every year in some of the most inaccessible places on Earth requires a formidable logistics machine. In 2005, WFP's expertise won it a mandate to coordinate logistics for the UN in emergency situations, like the earthquake in Haiti. Find out more about how WFP gets the job done.


Brienne Charles and her neighbours lost their homes when the January earthquake ripped through their remote mountain village. Now they’re getting new ones thanks to a Chilean NGO and WFP’s knack for reaching people in even the hardest-to-reach locations. Watch the clip

06/09/2010 - 14:16
Food For Assets

PORT-AU-PRINCE – When the earth shook beneath Haiti five months ago, Johnny’s wife, two children and sister were among the victims. One of thousands of bereaved survivors of the quake, Johnny is now hard at work to rebuild the life he lost.

Every day, he helps clear debris from the streets in return for about USD $5 in cash and food rations. The temporary employment keeps him clothed and fed, and even allows him to save up money to help his elderly mother.

The rubble that workers like Johnny are collecting goes to pave roads and build walls to combat erosion and protect farms around the country.

It’s among several Food for Work projects underway in Haiti that provide families with the food and basic necessities they need to survive in return for work repairing earthquake damage and building infrastructure.

As with any community-building programme, engaging women is the key to success. Surveys showed women to be among the most adamant supporters of food and cash for projects as solutions to their families’ short-term needs.

Most importantly, these projects are offering hope to people like Florence, who are looking beyond the ruins to a better future. Florence hopes one day to open a soda store, a small dream and part of the much greater task of getting Haiti on its feet.

As Haiti raises itself from the rubble of the January earthquake, WFP is helping survivors start again by giving them cash and food in return for work to rebuild the country. Johnny, who lost his family, and Florence, who dreams of starting a business, are among those reclaiming their lives. Watch the clip

05/26/2010 - 11:55
Nutrition, Preventing Hunger

NIAMEY – One of the poorest and most drought-prone places on Earth, Niger is a risky place to depend on farming. But thousands of people do, like Fatih, a widowed mother who toils against the odds to provide for her children.

Between harvests, during what they call the “lean season,” she used to travel for miles in the blazing heat to pay exorbitant prices at faraway food markets. Now, she and other women in her village are shielding themselves from hunger with the help of a cereal bank where they can borrow grain at low interest rates when food supplies run low.

While the cereal bank staffed by these mostly illiterate women stands in stark contrast to the raucous “pit” of the Chicago Board of Trade, what they’re doing is very similar: hedging their risks and betting on futures.

Droughts, floods and crop failures can all play havoc with commodity markets, but the stakes for small farmers like Fatih are considerably higher. In a time of high food prices, bad harvests can drag families into debt and from there into poverty and hunger.

That’s why the cereal bank, where Fatih now works, offers a badly needed safety net. Set up by WFP and Care, the bank puts women in charge of monitoring stock and overseeing the loans for the local families who need them.

But even the simplest administrative tasks pose a challenge to women who can’t read. In order to learn the skills they need to make the food bank work, they receive lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic as well as health, nutrition and child care.

Find out more about empowering women through food aid.

Risk is a way of life for traders on western commodity markets. But it’s even more so for farmers like Fatih who bet their livelihoods on every harvest. Cereal banks reduce the risk of disaster by loaning out grain when times are tough. Watch the clip
04/08/2010 - 16:45
Nutrition, Preventing Hunger

LIKASI  — The long tail of the global financial crisis is still being felt in the Katanga province of Democratic Republic of Congo, where the copper mining industry saw many companies close down or lay off staff. Predictably levels of malnutrition in the area have gone up. Read news release

Aggravating the problem is the almost total loss of farming skills among the local population caused by decades spent concentrating on mining.

Many mining families, having lost their connection with agriculture, tend to have unbalanced diets. Nutritionist Hyppolite Logi sees hundreds of mothers arrive at the Likasi health centre with malnourished children every year.

Improving diets

“These women often come back a few months after the treatment has finished because of unbalanced diets, lack of proteins and vitamins,” he said.

A local NGO, Vipatu, came up with a novel way of responding to the situation. The project, which is now supported by WFP, targets families who bring their malnourished children to the Likasi health centre for treatment.

“Basically, we teach them how to farm,” explains Vipatu coordinator Fidel Mwayile.

After the children have been treated, the families are enrolled in the farming project. As well as teaching agricultural techniques, it stresses the importance of diversifying food production and on that basis developing better nutrition habits. Finally, it paves the way for families to increase their incomes by selling food on the markets.

Picks to plowshares

Today, on the little green hills of Likasi, dozens of women are busy planting and watering. Half of the produce is sold, the other half is consumed by the 2,400 households who work on the project.

“Before my husband used to dig in a mine and was making US$100 per week,” says Nelly Bapile, one of the participants, as she waters salads in the Vipatu project. “The mine closed down last year and we could not find a job. My parents were farmers but we have never learnt or had the time.”

Now, after several months of training under her belt, she says she can buy fish thanks to the vegetables she can sell. According to Vipatu, children of families who take part in the project rarely fall into malnutrition again.



In Katanga, a mining province in southeastern Congo, the global financial crisis left a deep swathe of unemployment, bringing more hunger and malnutrition. Now, families of jobless miners are re-learning forgotten farming skills and at the same time gaining insights into healthy eating.

11/26/2009 - 10:54
Responding to Emergencies

SAN SALVADOR – At 2 a.m. on Saturday, November 2, a neighbour knocked on the door to warn Estela and her family that the river level was rising dangerously. Suddenly, water poured into the house from everywhere, the doors flew in all directions.

"In a matter of seconds the water was up to our necks and we tried to get out as fast as we could. Suddenly, the lights went out and afterwards I did not see my family again,” Estela said, recalling her experience.

Too tired to swim

“I remember hearing my husband yelling and telling me to climb up a tree. I tried to swim, but I was too tired to keep going and gave up. I don't know how, but I ended up on the top of a car and was dragged several kilometres downstream. That’s how I survived."

“I can't believe what's happened to us. I lost my husband, six grandchildren, my brothers, nephews. The smallest of my grandchildren was one year and six months old.

Estela, 58, lives in the community of "La Caridad" in the department of San Vicente, one of the areas worst hit by the storms and torrential rains. She, along with two surviving grandchildren, received nutritious High Energy Biscuits from WFP at one of the emergency centres set up in the wake of the disaster.

Emergency rations

WFP reached more than 7,000 people with emergency rations in the immediate aftermath of the recent floods. Next week it is scheduled to begin full food distributions -- dry rations of rice, beans and vegetable oil -- in order to help affected people get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.

Hurricane Ida left 196 people dead, 78 missing, and caused damage calculated at US$870 million. The worst affected areas were San Vicente, La Paz and Cuscatlan in the country's southeast. WFP and its partners estimate that as many as 30,000 people will need food in the coming months.

The UN has launched a flash appeal with the El Salvador government for more than US$14.7 million. WFP is requesting US$1.7 million to assist people in need of food.

Estela Nuñez, who lost 15 family members in the storms and floods which swept El Salvador in the wake of Hurricane Ida, is among the thousands of people who are benefitting from WFP emergency food assistance as they start to rebuild their lives.

10/05/2009 - 13:22
Responding to Emergencies

MANILA  -- Teodora Castor, who lives in the city of Taguig, one of Manila’s poor suburbs, has never known flooding this bad. “I’ve lived for 34 years in the same home. Only three times have we experienced such massive flooding—in 1972, in 1986, and now. But this time was the worst and most unforgettable,” she says.

Teodora makes a living sewing dish rags. She lives with her three children and eight grandchildren. Her husband is unemployed. When the flooding was worst, she took all her grandchildren to the evacuation centre, where they would be safer.

“But yesterday, we decided to take them out of the overcrowded evacuation centre,” she says tearfully. "I don’t want them to get sick. Many children have gotten sick with cough, fever, colds as well as diarrhoea.”

Cleaning up

"We'll make do in our damaged home. My children and I take turns keeping an eye on them while we try to clean up what’s left of our home."

“I’m not even sure how we will make ends meet now. My sewing machine for the dish rags that I sell was drenched in the floods, and it’s now starting to rust and won't start. My son drives a public transport vehicle, a motorized tricycle, and it got completely soaked in the floods for days and won’t start any more either.”

“My grandchildren are my priority. They need food, rice as well as water to drink. The ones that are helping are giving us hope," says with a small smile, as she fondly talks some more about her grandchildren. "They are all that we have—for now.”

07/17/2009 - 15:40
Students And Teachers, School Meals

MDZOBWE -- There is not a flicker of uncertainty in 13-year-old September Mzondi’s eyes. Not the slightest hint of doubt in his smile.

“I’m going to be a pilot for Air Malawi,” he says.

This is not just a naive conviction. September knows there is a long, difficult road ahead. But he also knows that he will soon take one of his most crucial steps – graduating from Mdzobwe primary school in central Malawi, located roughly 30 kilometres from the capital Lilongwe.

“My education is my future,” he says. “I am now in Standard 8 and this year I will pass my exams and next year I will go to secondary school."

Moving ahead

For a teenager born into a poor and poorly-educated farming family in rural Malawi, it is an impressive achievement – even for a boy as obviously bright and motivated as September.

And even more remarkable since he usually eats just two simple meals of maize porridge and vegetables at home each day.

Normally, this diet would leave children far too hungry to concentrate in class. Or even to attend school regularly. But September never misses a day.

“The porridge we get here every morning makes me come to school because we don’t eat breakfast at home,” he says, referring to the free cup of corn-soya blend handed out to Mdzobwe students. “Without it, I would not be able to work and I would not be so healthy.”

Student body doubles

School feeding began at the Mdzobwe school in 2001 under a programme run by the Word Food Programme in conjunction with Malawi’s Ministry of Education. Since then, the student body has more than doubled, jumping from 1,200 to nearly 3,000 pupils, even as the dropout rate has plummeted.

Remarkably, not a single student in Standards 5-8 -- the last four years of primary school -- has dropped out of Mdzobwe school this year.

Unlike their parents and so many other children before them, these students can now dream of going on to secondary school and of better lives ahead – as teachers, nurses or doctors. Or airline pilots.

“One day I am going to fly to the Netherlands,” says September. “And to the United States. And Asia.”

A daily bowl of corn-soya porridge is enough to keep September Mzondi in school in central Malawi – and to feed his ambition to travel the world as a pilot.

07/14/2009 - 10:25
Students And Teachers, School Meals

ENGUIKE -- The maize in the fields around Jonas’s village in the Masai country  of northern Tanzania stands blitzed and blighted. The rains have failed, and food is scarce. But there is hope for this 15-year-old at his school, which offers morning porridge and a lunchtime meal to all its students. Learn more about school meals

Before Enguike Primary School started doing this, not one – not a single student – graduated to secondary school. In fact it was a place where students used to go to sleep because they were so hungry.

How do school meals fit into the fight against global hunger?

Allan Jury, the chief of our Washington bureau, explains why school meals make such sense and talks about what else is needed now that there are a billion hungry people in the world. Read Q & A

More on school meals:

Too hungry to learn

“If you came here in those times you would find the children fast asleep because they were so hungry and tired,” George Lowassa, the district school feeding coordinator told me. “Many of them have to walk up to 12 km just to get here – on an empty stomach! Can you imagine?”

 All that has changed. In the five years since WFP started providing food to the school and its students, pass rates have steadily risen to the point where 36 of the 38 who sat their secondary exams in 2008 did so successfully.

It means that Jonas’s dream of one day being a lawyer may not be such pie in the sky from a country boy. He is well spoken and confident, with an advocate’s bearing and confidence sewn through his words.

Future as a lawyer

“I want to practice the laws of this country and maintain peace and stability in Tanzania,” he says. You can almost see him admonishing a miscreant from the bench. He tells me there is much less truancy at school now thanks to the meals, and it’s as if he’s been keeping a personal record of the trouble makers.

But for now the reality is a little more mundane. When he gets home this evening, there will be little on the table – some porridge if he is lucky. His parents are farmers and times are tough – the family is battling through to the next harvest two or three months from now.

And he still has those exams to pass. At least the food in his stomach should help him concentrate.

The school meals distributed at Jonas Oltimbau’s school on northern Tanzania are keeping alive his dreams of becoming a lawyer one day and playing a role in helping his nation move forward.