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A unique view of all the ways WFP is assisting millions of people worldwide.

11/25/2014 - 11:15

Harrowing words from a woman who is simply trying to carry out her daily tasks – but sadly, an experience that is echoed, albeit in different contexts, by women the world over.
Acts of violence against women aged 15 – 44 are the cause of more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined. From the refugees camps of DRC to the streets of New York, up to 70 per cent of women will experience violence of some form during their lives.
And it isn’t just the lasting physical and psychological marks that remain – gender based violence damages community cohesion, hampers women’s opportunities and devastates livelihoods.
WFP is working with women to ensure that the food assistance we provide contributes to their safety, dignity and integrity.

A safe haven in DRC

[video:642409]In DRC, a startling 1,100 rapes are reported every month, with an average of 36 women and girls raped every single day. Panzi hospital in Bukavu offers a safe haven for survivors of sexual violence providing women with medical care, psychological counselling and life skills workshops.
WFP provides food assistance to the hospital, contributing to a healthy recovery for the women – and ensuring that they have no reason to venture out into unsafe environments.

And WFP isn’t just responding to those that have suffered. Many women living in refugee camps near Goma fled their homes as a result of civil conflict – yet they find life in the refugee camps can bring its own risks.
Having interviewed many women like Maria at the camps near Goma, it was clear many feared for their safety when out in the bushes collecting firewood.
WFP now runs a programme which produces and distributes briquettes as an alternative cooking fuel, sparing women the dangerous trek – where this basic daily task can be a threat to lives.

Promoting equality in Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, it is a different type of violence that threatens most women – and the perpetrators are closer to home. Domestic violence affects nearly 48 per cent of married women in the country, which is one of the reasons why WFP is working to promote gender equality through food programmes.
WFP is teaching women best agricultural practices and supporting gender awareness events to address underlying inequalities and empower women farmers socially and economically.

This is particularly crucial given that in developing countries, women are responsible for 60 to 80 per cent of food production in developing countries. In fact, if women had the same access to resources as men, they could increase agricultural yields by 20 to 30 per cent, lifting 100 – 150 million people out of poverty.

Ending violence against women isn’t only a right for the millions affected worldwide – with women and girls accounting for half of the human capital in the fight against poverty, it is an important step towards ending world hunger.

Take action: Learn more, speak out, and join the 16-day UNiTE campaign to eradicate gender-based violence.


“If we go into the bush to collect firewood, we risk getting robbed or raped – all sorts of things,” Maria Nabinto, a refugee in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), told the World Food Programme (WFP) earlier this year.

11/24/2014 - 17:37
Nutrition, Responding to Emergencies

In August, Siatta’s mother was the first of her family to die of the Ebola virus. Next was her father, and then the aunt who had come to take care of them. Then her brother passed away, his wife, and their children … Out of 15 people living in the little house in Kakata, in Liberia's Margibi district, seven passed away in just nine weeks. 

“No one has been sick for over a month,” says Siatta. “So I believe we are going to be safe now.”

Siatta Stewart, 30, and her sister Famatta, 32, are now the only remaining adults in the family. Together, they have to take care of six children between the ages of four and 16 – their brothers, sisters, and nephews. Before the outbreak started, neither of the sisters had a secure job. Siatta used to help in a school, but now the schools are closed because of Ebola.

They still live in the home where it all happened. Five out of the seven deaths occurred inside.

“I don’t know why I did not get sick,” Siatta says.” I took care of them.”

In September, the whole family was taken to the hospital for surveillance. Famatta did come down with Ebola, and survived.  Little Darius, 6, also tested positive. Both his parents and his sister had died.

“I told people not to come anywhere near me,” he says. “I did not want them to catch Ebola.” Darius remembers becoming very weak, and that the nurses fed him orange juice and biscuits. Against the odds, he eventually recovered from the often-deadly virus.  Now, he washes his hands all the time, and makes sure other children do the same.

And in the last few weeks, Siatta and Famatta’s lives have taken a dramatic turn, as they now are responsible for the children.

“The rest of the family is gone forever, says Siatta.  “We know they are not coming back. We try to comfort the kids.” 

They are also trying to figure out how they can raise the children of the family, hoping that someday they will be able to get scholarships for them so that they can continue their education.

On November 18, the family went to the local hospital to pick up the food rations WFP gives to Ebola survivors and orphans. They received rice, beans, cereals, and oil – enough to last them for the next month.

As they were ready to leave with the bags, little Darius pulled away from his aunt, running towards the people distributing the food. “Thank you,” he told them.

But because of the rules for Ebola prevention, which include no physical contact between individuals, they could not hug each other good bye.

The Stewart family, which lives in a village in central Liberia, lost seven of its members to Ebola in just nine weeks. The two remaining adults - two sisters - are hoping that the rest of their family will be spared. They, like other survivors across the country, are receiving WFP food assistance to help them through the crisis.

11/19/2014 - 17:21
Nutrition, School Meals

Bhubaneswar – Roopteshwar Adhikari is 12-years-old and rarely sees his parents. They live 1,500 km away in Bangalore, where they work as day labourers. He lives with his grandmother and two sisters in Gajapati.
Every day, his grandmother cooks plain rice for the children. So, one of the things Roopteshwar likes about school is the different food he gets there.
“I have been in this school for the last two years. I eat food in school every day. I eat rice, lentils, soybean, potato, egg curry. My favourite is the egg curry,” he says, noting that at school he gets what he called ‘iron rice’.

“At home I eat plain rice but in school I get iron rice. I like the iron rice. I know it makes more blood and makes me stronger.”
Since 2013, WFP has been working with the Government of Odisha in fortifying the rice served in the school meals in Gajapati with iron. The goal is to address the astounding levels of anaemia in the district. Roopteshwar is one of about 100,000 children who eat this fortified rice in their school meals every day.

As part of its strategy to address food and nutrition issues and also to boost school attendance and academic performance, India has a national school feeding programme which reaches about 120 million children. It’s called the Mid Day Meal scheme (MDM) and is implemented by State Governments.
The MDM scheme supplies freshly cooked meals to school children aged 6-14 in educational institutions all over the country, among them the P.U.P School Adashra, Badigam, where Roopteshwar studies in class 7.

A recent evaluation of the fortified rice pilot in the district indicated that levels of anaemia have decreased by 5%. WFP is working with the Government of Odisha to explore the possibilities of scaling up the intervention to benefit more school children. 

“I want the iron rice to continue in my school meal,” Roopteshwar says. “I want to be stronger because when I am older I want to be a teacher. I don’t want to go away from Gajapati, I will stay here and teach in a school. This extra iron will help me.”


WFP helps the government enhance school meals in the Indian State of Odisha with iron-fortified rice. The initiative has won the approval of Roopteshwar, a schoolboy in the Gajapati district of eastern India.

11/17/2014 - 09:21
Purchase for Progress

Jane Bayitanunga, a mother of six, is a small-holder farmer in Iganga district in eastern Uganda.  She mostly grows maize and beans which she uses to feed her family and then sells the excess at the market.  Like many farmers in the area, Jane has been losing a significant portion of her harvest through bad storage practices.

“We took a lot of caution, harvesting our grain using baskets and tarpaulins to maintain the quality,” explained Jane. “But it was all a waste of time as when we got home we had no good place to store it and it would then get ruined by weevils or eaten by rats.  If I harvested five bags, one or two would be ruined after storing for a month.”

However thanks to a post-harvest loss minimization programme funded by WFP, Jane is one of over 16,000 low income farmers to realize more from their labour through improved post-harvest practices and storage equipment. To produce high quality grain, it is essential that farming households do their postharvest handling in a proper and timely manner. The programme not only trains farmers on how to do this but is providing household storage and handling equipment on a cost sharing basis.

Following a trial late last year, where the improved storage equipment registered a 98 percent reduction in losses, WFP increasing the programme this year to assist over 16,000 farmers (mostly women) throughout Uganda. WFP is promoting the most successful options from the trial – the metallic and plastic silos and the Super Grain bags – to enable households store food for family consumption or sale.  The project is aligned with a joint post-harvest loss minimization programme by the Rome-based agencies, namely WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“We are extremely happy that these silos have been introduced to us,” Jane said. “They reduce infestation and (aflatoxin) contamination, they help us keep everything that we grow and allow us to store it for as long as we want. Besides the silos themselves, we have acquired a useful new skill as we now know how to dry our grain before it can be stored well in the silos.”

Sophia Namugaya lives in Mwira village, a few kilometers away from Jane’s house. Last year, she harvested 3,000 kilos of maize grain and lost 80 percent of it to rats, contamination and infestation.  Such a significant loss had a huge economic impact on the family.  After acquiring her 1.3 metric ton capacity silo from WFP this year, she allocated it an entire room in her small house. She was happy to temporarily remove her roof in order to install the silo.

“This year I am confident that I will not lose any of the maize that I will store in the silo,” said Sophia with a broad smile. 
The WFP project is working in several districts across eastern Uganda, some of which were affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.  David Olwoch, formerly of the internally displaced people’s camp of Kalongo in Agago, says that when he returned to his original home at the end of the LRA insurgency, there were few livelihood opportunities besides farming and yet there were no adequate means of storing his harvest.

“But now I have this (plastic) silo for household storage. I used it to store maize last year, now I am using it for my bean seeds. It is sealed and they are safe and in good condition. It keeps seeds very well for up to nine months, better than the means we used long time ago. Insects cannot enter it. I would like to buy another one, the bigger metallic type, so I can use one silo for maize and another for beans,” explained Olwoch.

Eradicating food losses throughout sub-Saharan Africa is a bold, but achievable target. By empowering farmers in countries like Uganda, WFP is assisting farming communities to achieve increased food security for many years to come.

Almost one third of the local farming production in sub-Saharan Africa is lost every year due to inadequate post-harvest management and household storage. In Uganda, WFP and its partners are combining their efforts to dramatically reduce these losses through a post-harvest loss reduction initiative.
11/11/2014 - 10:50
Responding to Emergencies

Once Ulang was a vibrant market town, connected by river and road to Ethiopia. Many public services were provided such as health, education and livelihood support to farmers in the region. When we arrived in October, we walked through a near empty town. Most people had fled across the River Sobat into neighboring Ethiopia to seek refuge when fighting erupted here over 10 months ago. Grass has grown over abandoned tukuls (houses) and many are falling apart as the owners have not returned. Cars and motor cycles were left behind. Maize and pumpkins continue to grow in private gardens but there is no one to harvest them.

I met with the local Women’s Association and conducted household visits to vulnerable people to understand how they cope with the situation. the people I met included separated or unaccompanied minors and orphans, old people, the physically impaired and the sick. Many expressed worries about their safety and security but said they were compelled to return to Ulang town; they have no food or shelter on the other side of the Sobat River where they had sought refuge.

“We just have to eat grass and water lilies,” a mother of five children told me when I asked her how she copes without food assistance. Her husband was killed in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State.

It becomes apparent when I travel to these conflict-affected locations that the people suffer tremendously. They have lost everything - their loved ones, their homes and belongings. The conditions are so dire and the stories from people are usually so heart-wrenching that the reflex action is to immediately start dishing out help. However, it is paramount that we consider protection and gender in the planning and implementation of food assistance delivery in order not to cause more harm in our effort to provide help. Some activities such as the creation of shades for women and their children and the provision of water to people waiting to be served may seem very minor but are important.

During the rainy season, many face severe challenges to reach the distribution points crossing rivers and swampy areas. After consulting with the people, WFP set up two registration and food distribution points - one in Ulang town for those who had returned and the other in Nyangore across the river where most people had sought refuge. The local Women’s Association representatives helped us prioritize vulnerable individuals during the registration and food distribution. We also provided information on the procedures and their entitlements.

In our work as humanitarians, it is instinctive to help people but it is extremely important that we deliver assistance in a dignified and safe manner that understands beneficiaries as a rights holder rather than a recipient of aid.

Story by Marika Guderian, WFP South Sudan

As a protection advisor for WFP in South Sudan, Marika Guderian frequently travels to remote rural locations with mobile response teams who are at the frontline of delivering food assistance to conflict affected populations in the country. She tells us about her recent trip to Ulang town in Upper Nile State where the population has been affected by the conflict.

11/07/2014 - 09:05
Responding to Emergencies

When Super Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, swept across the Visayas region of the Philippines on 8 November 2013, it became the strongest typhoon in recorded history to make landfall.

By the time Haiyan had left the Philippine Area of Responsibility, approximately 14.1 million people were affected, 4 million of which were forced to flee their homes, over 6,000 individuals had lost their lives, and 5.6 million survivors were at risk of food insecurity.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm and in response to the Philippine Government’s clarion call to address the priority needs of the worst-stricken areas, the World Food Programme (WFP) launched an emergency operation targeting the most vulnerable populations located in the hardest hit areas of Leyte, Panay, and Samar.

Providing immediate food assistance

WFP immediately implemented general food distribution in November, closely working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) by providing rice and nutrition commodities to supplement DSWD’s ‘family pack’ which also included canned sardines and instant noodles. Through partnerships with various key government agencies, local government units (LGUs) as well as international and national non-government organizations (NGOs), WFP provided over 35,000 metric tons (mt) of rice to 2.95 million affected individuals in 138 municipalities throughout 10 provinces in the Visayas region.

Procopio Molina and Lilian Florendo, both left homeless in the wake of the super typhoon, were among the recipients of this food assistance. Both still vividly recall the timely, vital aid they received.

“The rice from WFP and food from the DSWD were a huge help because we had nothing to eat at that time,” Procopio said.

“The first relief that we got was one sack of rice,” explained Lilian. “I was really happy, I said, ‘Thank you Lord for this rice.’ Every month, we received one sack of rice.”

A year later, Procopio and Lilian continue to rebuild their lives on the foundations of hope.

Currently residing in a temporary house, Procopio has been building his family a new place to call home. “Eventually, we’ll have a new house. Merely half remains unfinished,” shared the 57-year old.

Despite the difficulties, Procopio remains optimistic. “We know things will get better. There’s always hope,” he said.

Meanwhile, having rebuilt their house, Lilian and her family now lend a helping hand to other people.

“When my family lost our house, people helped us rebuild it, so I want to do the same for others,” she shared. “When I heard my nephew had lost his grandfather and he and his cousin were left to fend for themselves, I arranged for a galvanized steel roof and some lumber so that they could reconstruct their house.”

For now, Lilian hopes that they will be able to fully recover from Haiyan. She has begun producing coconut wine once again to support her family’s income.

“We are truly grateful for those who gave to us as it was a really big help. We are in a better state now than we were before,” she said.

Emergency cash assistance

Noting the collapse of the main drivers of the local economy, WFP initiated an unconditional cash transfer programme in December when signs of market recovery became visible and financial delivery mechanisms became available in certain areas. The cash grant aimed to satisfy the additional food and non-food requirements of affected families as well as stimulate the local economy. WFP leveraged on the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) by topping up the government grant for two rounds with a fixed emergency cash assistance of PHP1,300 per 4Ps household. WFP also worked with NGOs to reach those who are not 4Ps members, but have also been severely affected by the typhoon. In total, nearly 530,000 individuals in 61 municipalities in the affected provinces were supported with cash assistance.

Noemi Kho, a mother to 5 children, had lost her husband during the onslaught of Typhoon Haiyan.

“It was a huge, life-changing loss,” Noemi shared. “It made me realize that life is too short. If you have something to say to your loved ones, say it while they’re alive. You don’t know if they’ll be gone tomorrow.”

For Noemi, the cash grant helped her purchase other food needs, clothes, and school materials for her children.

“On behalf of the members of the 4Ps, we are thankful to WFP, because even in such a short amount of time, you were a big help to us in providing for our children,” said Noemi.

The family now lives in a temporary bunkhouse provided by the DSWD. Noemi has a new business selling t-shirts to tourists in MacArthur Landing Memorial Park.

Noemi radiates resilience as she shares how they are coping after Haiyan.

“I will manage, for my children,” she declared. “I don’t show helplessness in front of them. When my children realized their father was gone, they asked, ‘Ma, where will we go? Who will take care of our education?’ I said, ‘Don’t worry, you will all go to school, you will all be fed.’ That’s what I told my children, so now I give them hope.”

Nutrition support to the most vulnerable

To address health and hunger risks in the typhoon-affected communities, resources and efforts were also specifically devoted to vulnerable mothers and children who were at risk of acute malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, especially those who were taking refuge in evacuation centres. WFP, in partnership with the Department of Health, the National Nutrition Council, UNICEF, NGOs, and LGUs, fielded nutrition interventions.

Rubilyn Mansalay, Rizalina’s youngest child, was one of over 141,000 recipients of WFP’s nutrition support.

“The living conditions in the evacuation center made it difficult for my family. I worried about my children’s health, especially for my youngest daughter. Rubilyn was getting thinner and weaker, so when WFP informed me that she would be included in their nutrition programme, I was very happy and felt reassured that things will get better.”

Under WFP’s blanket and targeted supplementary feeding programmes, Rubilyn received ready-to-use supplementary foods (RUSFs) such as Plumpy’Doz and Plumpy’Sup. These RUSFs provide young children with the vital nutrients they need during the important days of early development, a period placed at risk during times of emergencies.

A year has passed since Haiyan made landfall and during this period, WFP, through the assistance of the rural health unit, has been able to help Rubilyn and other young children maintain their good health and nutritional status allowing them to combat diseases and other long term effects of malnutrition during this critical period in the aftermath of the storm. 

“When I see how healthy my daughter is now, I can’t help but smile. I am thankful that I still have my loved ones and that they are healthy because of the assistance from WFP and its donors.”


The World Food Programme reached nearly 3 million people with food, nutrition and cash assistance, made possible with generous contributions from Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, and private donors.

It has been a year since Super Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) devastated the Visayas region of the Philippines. The World Food Programme’s Faizza Tanggol and Anthony Chase Lim went back to Leyte to find out how the people are rebuilding their lives one year on.

11/04/2014 - 15:16
Responding to Emergencies

It's a year since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines, leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake. Here's a look back at what happened and how - thanks to partners and supporters around the world - the World Food Programme was able to respond.

10/24/2014 - 09:48

SURUC, Turkey – With the standoff for Kobani intensifying every day, the influx of refugees arriving to the Turkish towns continues – the majority of them are women, children, elderly and disabled. Many personally witnessed attacks and atrocities while others fled the threat of the conflict and violence with nothing but only whatever clothes they were wearing this day. 

It is estimated that more than 200,000 Syrians have now moved to Turkey. WFP has started supplying the Turkish Red Crescent (TRC) with food to support the mobile kitchens set in many of the areas with high concentration of refugees.

The UN food agency plans to deliver over 435 metric tons of food to its Turkish partner to meet the growing needs of newly-arrived people who have no access to cooking facilities. TRC is providing hot meals to refugees with a daily capacity to serve 30,000 hot meals. 

The image below shows how the situation at the Syrian border has changed in the last month. Hundreds of vehicles are now waiting to cross and enter Turkey. (Source: UNITAR. Copyright: 2014 DigitalGlobe)

Because of the increasing number of refugees, a camp was created in order to accommodate thousands of people fleeing from Kobani. 
(Source: UNITAR. Copyright: 2014 DigitalGlobe)

WFP staff went to the border and spoke to Syrian refugees who have just arrived to the Turkish city of Suruc.

Mahmoud, 25-year-old from Hazani village in northeast Syria describes the situation as extremely difficult: “We waited at the border for few days with almost three thousand people who fled the villages near Kobani. We had nothing to eat but bulgur that we cooked while waiting at the border to feed the children. I came with a group of 40 people, mainly my relatives and neighbours.” 

Mohamed left Kobani few days ago fleeing the terror. “We have been waiting since last Friday. There are thousands of people waiting on the other side of the border. I took half of my family to Gaziantep and the other half is waiting here. I had a baklava shop, and left everything behind. We don’t know what to do now.”

Shahin Atesh, 58-year-old from Kor village describes very chaotic scenes as thousands of people flocked to the border: “We waited for a week in the dust. We left our homes and land and everything behind. We came as a group of 20 family members but we left behind two of my brothers to take care of our homes and whatever we had left behind. Our children suffered a lot without food and water so we will go to Kilis camp where our relatives are currently living.”


This 80-year-old Syrian refugee, who crossed the border few days ago carried by Turkish soldiers as her leg is broken, said she has seen so much violence that she never imagined she would witness in her life. “Our homes were burnt, our people and relatives were killed and we had no option but to flee.”

Ayin fled when violence hit the nearby villages. She and her family had to escape so fast that she didn’t even pack a dress with her so she borrowed the one that she is wearing now from a friend. She doesn’t know what will happen next.
"It is up to God now," she says.
Ninety percent of the people left the village and no one knows what happened to the ones who stayed behind. “We want to go back but how?” she asks. “They gave us beds, pillows and blankets and we stay in our tent the whole day with nothing to do," Ayin explains how her days pass. 


Few kilometres from the besieged Syrian town Kobani, thousands of Syrians are now seeking refuge in the Turkish town, Suruc. Turkish towns have seen its population double with the influx of refugees over the last few weeks. They have made storehouses and unfinished buildings as their makeshift homes while their homes remain visible from the border as they recall the memories of happier times and the family members they left behind. 

10/16/2014 - 14:27
Cash and Vouchers, School Meals

BAMBASI REFUGEE CAMP, Ethiopia — Sadia Mohammed is no stranger to hardship. Two years ago, she fled Sudan's conflict-torn Blue Nile State with her husband and six children.  

"Houses were burning and there was shooting," 33-year-old Sadia recalls of the fighting in her home town of Geissen. "We had to leave." 

Today, Sadia has found peace in western Ethiopia, where she is among roughly 14,000 Sudanese living at Bambasi refugee camp. Although she’s glad to have safety, Sadia and her family also live in limbo — unable, for now, to go home and restart their lives. 

Like many of the half-a-million refugees WFP supports in Ethiopia, Sadia's survival depends on monthly humanitarian assistance, along with the vegetables she grows in a small garden. Until recently, WFP's support in Ethiopia consisted entirely of food rations and nutritional supplements for the malnourished.

But today, Sadia is part of a groundbreaking shift in WFP's refugee operations here, as the agency moves from traditional food distributions to a mix of food and cash where appropriate. Now, WFP is expanding this initiative, thanks to a EUR 2.5 million (US$3.4 million) grant from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). 

“Ethiopia was the first place in the world where WFP started distributing cash alongside food to refugees in camps,” says WFP’s Country Director Abdou Dieng. “And we are seeing that even these modest sums of money are improving people's diets and self-esteem. With strong support from donors like ECHO, we plan to expand the effort so all refugees in Ethiopia can benefit from both cash and food.”

Support from ECHO and Finland

With support from ECHO and Finland, the first cash-and-food pilots began in 2013 for Somali refugees at the Sheder and Aw Barre camps, in Ethiopia's eastern Somalia region, in close collaboration with the government’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA) and the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR. 

This May, the programme was launched for Sudanese refugees at Bambasi camp, in the western Benishangul-Gumuz region and also rolled out in Aysaita refugee camp hosting around 9,100 Eritrean refugees in the region of Afar.

“We have seen the first results, which have proven to be most effective,” says ECHO Technical Advisor Jacob Asens. “Refugees are very happy with this new initiative and their diet is more diversified – which is one of the programme’s objectives. ECHO hopes the positive initial results will be confirmed this year so that cash transfers can become a reality in refugee camps in Ethiopia in the very near future.”

At Bambasi, Sadia and participating refugees continue receiving the same amount of WFP-provided pulses, vegetable oil, fortified blended food, sugar and salt as they did before. But under the new initiative, WFP replaces roughly half the cereal ration with 100 Ethiopian Birr (about $5) per person, per month. 

"The cash allows me to buy extra food like cereals, vegetables and coffee," says Sadia. “Perhaps later on, I will buy milk and maybe meat.”

Positive results

Sadia isn't the only refugee praising the cash-and-food initiative. Many were pleased at the dietary diversity and greater food choices that cash provides. And women, especially, said the money enhanced their dignity and negotiating power with local traders. 

At Bambasi camp, Situ Nasir and her husband Indris Abdela are pleased to be able to shop at the local market—just as they did back home. "We like to be able to select our own food and take just what they need," said Situ, who says she is the main decision-maker on how the cash is spent. 

For 36-year-old mother of five Teyib Gotsi, the cash means she can buy meat and fresh vegetables, and pay for basic expenses. That's a big change from just two years ago, when the family scrounged for food, water and shelter after fleeing their home in Blue Nile State. The cash even allows Teyib to plan ahead; she will save part of it as a cushion against future hardships. 

And refugees aren’t the only ones benefitting. The money they spend is helping to boost the local economy and putting smiles on shopkeepers’ faces as well. 

This story was written thanks to inputs from Aschalew Abate from WFP Ethiopia


WFP continues to expand cash programmes in refugee camps throughout Ethiopia thanks to the support from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). In Bambasi, refugees like Sadia explains what it means for them and their families.

10/13/2014 - 17:40
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.