Sign up today to join our online community, receive email alerts, and make a difference!
Cancel

Stories

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

646225
05/06/2015 - 10:59
Responding to Emergencies

“Everybody thought she had died. I thought she was dead.”

When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal at 11.56 on 25 April 2015, Bimala Tamang and her family were doing their usual Saturday activities. Bimala was at a neighbour’s place. Her husband, Sanjay, and 15-year-old son, Bijay, were doing some electrical repairs around the house. Her 11-year-old daughter, Maichang, was playing in the field, and her other daughter, 13-year-old Sangmaya, stayed at home.

[photo|646224]“I started crying when I couldn’t find my children. I got worried. I was running around, here and there, trying to find them,” recalls Bimala. “The whole family was reunited after an hour except for Sangmaya. Everybody thought Sangmaya was dead. I lost all hope.”

When children milling around their house heard crying from under the rubble, they immediately gathered the neighbors and started digging. After three hours, they found Sangmaya. Thankfully, alive. As it turns out, Sangmaya’s leg got caught under the stairs, and she was unable to run outside as the house came crashing on her.

Picking Up The Pieces

I met Bimala at a school in Kubinde Ward 9, in the municipality of Chautara in Sindhupalchok District. She was in line, with hundreds of others, waiting to receive rice from the World Food Programme (WFP).

“After the earthquake we didn’t eat anything for a day,” Bimala says. “We were only able to eat the following day, at the village’s common kitchen where they served dal bhat and rice.”

“Our house was completely destroyed. We have nothing left except for the clothes on our back,” says Sanjay.

[photo|646219]After five days in a makeshift shelter built from materials salvaged from the remains of their house, Bimala and her family decided to leave their home in Barabise, also in Sindhupalchok, and moved to Bimala’s parents’ house in Kubinde.

“There was nothing left for us there. We want to take care of our parents and stay together and see this difficult situation through,” explains Sanjay.

[photo|646218]Not that their situation in Kubinde is very different. From the food distribution area, we walk a few metres on a dirt road, back to their home which at the moment had three beds in a row, covered with clean bed sheets. A large sheet of plastic is stretched across the roof to protect them from rain. They have an open kitchen where they cook with firewood. Two goats are tethered to a post. And in the midst of collapsed mud bricks, a small TV set.

“The schools are closed. There is no work. Businesses have closed. What can we do? I don’t know what to do. We’ll just stay here for now,” says Bimala.

“But at least for a few days, I know we can eat. I can feed my children.”

***

WFP urgently needs funds for this complex relief operation. We need US$116.6 million to provide food for 1.4 million earthquake-affected people for three months. For common services related to logistics, air transport and telecommunications, WFP requires another US$34 million over the next three months. You can support WFP’s work in Nepal by making a donation at www.wfp.org/nepal.

Afraid, shaken and not knowing what to do, Bimala thought she had lost her daughter in the earthquake.

646220
05/06/2015 - 06:28

Following the 7.9 magnitude earthquake which struck Nepal, the response community quickly mobilised essential aid, from food and water to shelter and medical supplies. Now, 10 days after the quake, as the humanitarian population swells to meet the urgent needs of the affected communities, the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is providing shared internet services at five sites, with more planned for the coming week.

“Right now our focus is to quickly set-up reliable Wi-Fi connectivity in key locations where humanitarians are working,” says Oscar Caleman, deployed as ETC Coordinator in Nepal. “In parallel, we are coordinating with local service providers to see that connections are restored, or even extended, to where they are needed.”

Internet in the most remote, and worst affected, areas

[donation-form|2015-wfp-nepal-emergency-webstory|2015-wfp-nepal-emergency-webstory|5279]Within days of the earthquake, a full ETC team had arrived on the ground with responders from emergency.lu, Ericsson Response, NetHope and World Food Programme (WFP) FITTEST.

Using emergency.lu inflatable satellite antennas, with connectivity managed and distributed by Ericsson Response WIDER, internet services have now been established for humanitarians responding in Deurali and Chautara, two areas worst affected by the earthquake.

“On our way to Chautara, we saw villages that had been completely flattened,” says Rob Buurveld, deployed as ETC Technical Specialist. “There are a lot of old style houses made from stone and wood that had completely collapsed. There were heaps of people who have come down from remote villages and were just sitting by the side of the road, probably still in shock from what has happened.”

Three shared internet sites have also been established in Kathmandu, the logistics and coordination hub for this operation. The ETC has coordinated with local Internet Services Provider, Subisu, to provide a 100MB fibre connection, which is distributed and managed using WIDER, at the Humanitarian Staging Area (HSA), On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) at UN House and UN Airport Reception Centre.

Over 150 humanitarians have already registered to use ETC connectivity across the five sites.

Mountain of Challenges

Nepal is a country characterised by vast mountain ranges and picturesque remote locations. It is these features however that pose the greatest challenge to relief operations. The only airport in the country capable of accommodating large aircraft that bring in vital relief supplies is in Kathmandu, hundreds of kilometres away from where aid is needed.

“One of the big differences between this and other operations is the remoteness of affected areas,” says Gisli Olafsson, deployed as ETC NGO Coordinator in Nepal. “It was a challenge firstly to get teams into the country because the airport in Kathmandu could not physically accommodate any more aircraft. Now getting equipment and people out to the right places is proving difficult too.”

The ETC is working with the Logistics Cluster to overcome transport and access challenges.

A Model for Future Emergencies

For years, the response community had been preparing for a large-scale earthquake which was predicted to strike Kathmandu. The ETC Working Group in Nepal was well-established before the disaster, with strong participation not only from humanitarian organisations, but also internet and mobile services providers, and government authorities. This existing cooperation across the ICT network has been invaluable, with all partners readily engaging and collaborating for a more effective response.

“As the ETC, we intervene to provide temporary services only,” says Oscar. “Here in Nepal we are providing an interim solution until local operators can get their services back online. The collaboration with service providers has been excellent and we are all working very closely together with the government to ensure restoration of essential communications services.”

Offers of extended fibre-optic connections, use of company offices as internet cafés and numerous pre-loaded sim cards – all at no cost to the humanitarian community – are flowing in to the ETC from local service providers, including Subisu, Ncell and Nepal Telecom.

Humanitarians, private sector and government authorities participate in ETC Nepal Working Groups. (ETC/ Gisli Olafsson)

This model of response readiness, partnership and collaboration between humanitarian organisations, internet and mobile service providers, and government authorities is one being pursued by the ETC as part of its 2020 strategy.

“No two emergencies are ever the same,” says Oscar. “Each one brings its own challenges and opportunities too. The way in which humanitarian organisations, private sector companies and government authorities are working together in this operation is exemplary and something that we as the ETC hope to be able to replicate in disaster-prone countries across the world.”

 

Led by WFP, the ETC is a global network of organisations that work together in emergencies to provide shared communications services to the humanitarian community. The ETC was activated in Nepal to provide reliable emergency security communications and internet connectivity services to the humanitarian community, improving their ability to coordinate and respond in areas affected by the earthquake.

By 2020, the ETC will create an emergency response environment that provides humanitarians, citizens and governments with a seamless, resilient and principled communications experience.

Collaboration between humanitarians, service providers and government authorities in Nepal is enabling life-saving connectivity.

646211
05/05/2015 - 11:39
Blog, ED - E.Cousin

By Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director UN World Food Programme

Nepal is home to eight of the 14 tallest mountains on the planet. I’ve just returned from three days there. In my job, I see a lot of disasters, but the devastation in Nepal against the backdrop of its natural and cultural beauty was particularly heartbreaking. Centuries-old Patan Durbar Square, a UNESCO Heritage Site in Kathmandu, reduced to rubble. The majestic foot “hills” of the Himalayas suddenly a looming obstacle to a complex aid operation rather than a hiker’s challenge. 

[photo|646212]Earthquakes are perhaps the most overwhelming of natural disasters – the ultimate “sudden-onset emergency”. Seismologists have long described the Kathmandu Valley as the most dangerous place on earth when it comes to earthquakes. Experts knew it was only a matter of time before the straining tectonic plates under this beautiful country shifted. We knew an earthquake might occur and we knew the ensuing aid operation would face significant logistics challenges. So the World Food Programme (WFP) - with Nepali government and donor support - prepared for just this scenario. Just weeks before the earthquake struck we opened a relief hub for the entire humanitarian community at Kathmandu airport 

Relief Hub Preparedness = Faster Response

[donation-form|2015-wfp-nepal-emergency-webstory|2015-wfp-nepal-emergency-webstory|5279]At the time it looked rather dull – a large empty lot stocked with mobile storage units that could be set up swiftly and a few empty prefab offices. But in the hours after the quake struck Nepal this investment quickly demonstrated its practical worth, becoming the nerve centre for the unloading and swift dispatch of planeload after planeload of humanitarian cargo. Thankfully, the UK Department for International Development (Dfid) had the foresight to recognize the value of being prepared and funded this project.

The impact of the devastation, even with all our projections and planning, becomes clearer when you see how far it stretches beyond Kathmandu. To better understand the scale of logistics challenges we are facing, I flew over some of the worst-affected areas.  

The juxtaposition between the magnificent landscape and the earthquake destruction is a punch in the stomach, even to a seasoned humanitarian. Heaps of stone and mud where houses had once stood; women and children living out in the open on remote mountainsides. The needs are enormous. WFP must reach 1.4 million people; but not just with food. Survivors urgently need tarpaulins and tents, as well as water purification tablets and WFP will help deliver these for our humanitarian partners. 

WFP Assists Enormous Needs of Survivors

Delivering supplies exemplifies the teamwork required for a successful Nepal earthquake response. As the leader of the global Logistics Cluster, it’s WFP’s responsibility to provide this and other logistics support to the entire humanitarian community. To fulfill this responsibility we’ve hired a fleet of trucks which will provide transport for areas reachable by road. Nepal’s unique geography, rain, aftershocks and landslides means many affected communities are inaccessible by road. For the most remote and hardest-hit areas, like the ones in Gorkha district, the quake’s epicentre, helicopters currently provide the only transport option. Helicopters are an expensive way to deliver aid, costing as much as seven to eight times more than road transport, so we must once again call upon the generosity of the entire global donor community to support the WFP response effort.  

This all sounds bleak – and indeed this is a situation of fantastic complexity and challenges. But from what I witnessed of the Nepalese people and their strength, I am encouraged. I met with the most senior Nepali government officials and each one of them reiterated a  commitment to relieve the suffering of every Nepali citizen affected by the quake. In each meeting we also acknowledged that the clock is ticking and working against us all. That clock is counting down the four to six weeks before the start of the annual monsoon rainy season. Each one of us agreed that overcoming these hurdles will require cooperation and coordination between the government and the humanitarian community.

Together in the Nepal Earthquake Response We Reach Higher

WFP’s own staff – many of whom lost loved ones and their homes – were ready to get to work on the very day the earthquake hit. On my second day in Nepal, I had the privilege of meeting the Seven Summits Women Team – an exceptional group of women who give me great hope for the future of Nepal. They are the first all-female team to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Extraordinary women with boundless vision for themselves and their country. Each woman came from an ordinary or even challenging upbringing. One of their members, Nimdoma Sherpa, received WFP meals when she was a schoolgirl. Their motto, which has taken them so far, also fittingly applies to our collective Nepal emergency response: Together We Reach Higher.

WFP must reach 1.4 million people; but not just with food – survivors urgently need tarpaulins and tents, as well as water purification tablets which WFP will help deliver for our humanitarian partners.

646209
05/04/2015 - 18:09

There are currently over 4,000 children who lost either one or both parents as a result of the Ebola outbreak in Guinea.

In March 2015, WFP began to provide food assistance to orphans in Siguiri, Kankan, Kouroussa and Kérouané regions. By the end of April, WFP was supporting 1,180 vulnerable children on a monthly basis. This May, WFP is planning to scale up its assistance to 4,000 children.

Meet Assa. After she lost her mother to Ebola in February, Assa was hospitalized at the Ebola Transit Center of Guekedu as she was suspected to have also caught the virus. Her Ebola test, however, was negative. 

So she returned to her village, Dar-es-lam, in the Kankan region, where she lives with her father and three brothers: Fadima, 9, Saran, 7, and Moussa, 5.

WFP provides a 30-day food package for Ebola orphans and their families or caretakers.  At the end of April, Assa and her family received a second round of the ration, which includes 50 kg of rice, 4.5 kg of vegetable oil, 7.5 kg of pulses and salt.  With these supplies, Assa and her family will not go hungry as they rebuild their livelihoods and get back on their feet.

 

After her sister-in-law died of Ebola, Hawa (pictured above) began to take care of the three children who were left behind: 17-year-old Nakaba, Moussa, 14, and Lacine, 12. WFP is also helping Hawa make ends meet by providing her with much needed food.

 

In the Heremakono village in Kankan, this family lost 13 of its members to Ebola. Together with national NGO "Enfance du Globe," WFP provides food assistance to the orphans.


Assata's husband and her two daughters lost their lives to Ebola. In addition to supporting orphans from Ebola, WFP also provides food assistance to survivor households, as losing family members takes both an emotional and economic toll on the family members left behind.

Assata’s nephew, 3-year-old Laye, survived Ebola.  Sadly, he lost his mother to the virus. WFP continues to support him and his family as they get back on their feet.  Since the beginning of WFP's emergency operation at the end of August 2014, WFP has distributed 15,000 mt of food to more than 500,000 people affected by Ebola in Guinea.

 

Photos: WFP/Silvia Pontillo.

A crucial part of the World Food Programme's Ebola response is to help communities affected by Ebola transition out of crisis and regain a sense of normalcy. One important aspect of this transition means supporting children whose lives were torn apart after losing their parents and their safety net to Ebola. 

646192
05/01/2015 - 18:23
Nutrition

On 21 April Barreto was greeted by dozens of children from the Puka Puka community school, in the municipality of Tarabuco, Chuquisaca Department. These young children are beneficiaries of the School Feeding Programme that WFP implements in collaboration with the Association of Municipalities for School Feeding (MAECH, in Spanish). Afterwards, the Regional Director held meetings with departmental and municipal authorities and the MAECH Manager.

Barreto emphasized the value of nutrition for Bolivian families and the work of WFP- that supports an average of 74,000 people: School children, pregnant and nursing women, and food-insecure families.

40 Bolivian Municipalities
WFP has been operating in Bolivia under the Country Programme 2013-2017 carried out in cooperation with the Government of Bolivia. The programme aims to reach 40 Bolivian municipalities, in three of the nine departments: Pando, Tarija and Chuquisaca. The Country Programme focuses on three components: a) sustainable and productive school feeding; b) strengthen government nutrition programmes; c) promotion of livelihoods and disaster risk reduction.

After his field mission, Barreto traveled to the nation’s capital, La Paz. He was interviewed by Bolivian and international media and attended bilateral meetings with national authorities and Latin American and European embassies.

Latin America has the Capacity to Feed Itself
"Latin America has the ability to feed itself, as a region. The problem is the lack of access to food. This has a direct relation to employment and income. We can generate sufficient food availability in the region but not everyone has the ability to access nutritious and safe food, which enables a comprehensive and appropriate development," he said during an interview with the Bolivian television ATB.

Barreto called on Latin American governments: "Nutrition must be key on national public agendas." He underscored the value of education and training that WFP provides to the municipalities. "We don't know how to eat well, we don't know how to properly combine foods that provide us with adequate nutrition,” said Barreto. “There is a way we can handle this easily in our Latin American countries: Nutrition education."

 

LA PAZ – The WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Miguel Barreto, met with national authorities and partners during an official mission to Bolivia from 21 to 23 April to highlight the importance of proper nutrition among people in the most food insecurity areas of the country.

646157
04/30/2015 - 08:44
Journalists

As WFP pushes ahead to get food delivered into more of the hardest-hit districts, some six remote districts in the coming days, WFP staff member Zoie Jones gives news five days after the Nepal earthquake struck. 

Many Have No Place to Call Home

At Kathmandu International Airport, the majority of arrivals are search and rescue crews from around the world kitted out in their uniforms and protective gear. Some have dogs with them to help in the search effort, but as this disaster stretches toward its sixth day, it’s clear they’ll most likely be used to sniff out bodies. 

In the city itself, life was slowly starting to resemble the everyday on Wednesday, after a night free of powerful aftershocks. Some supermarkets reopened and roads were back to their usual chaos of scooters and buses and horns.

But for the families still sleeping outside in the city’s makeshift tent districts, life is very far from back to normal. Many families have lost their homes so even though the tremors have stopped, for now, they have no place to return to. 

[photo|646158][donation-form|2015-wfp-nepal-emergency-webstory|2015-wfp-nepal-emergency-webstory|5279]“We have been sleeping in the park since Saturday,” said 28-year-old Babu Bhujel. He was at home in his apartment with his wife and two year old daughter when the earthquake hit. “I am looking after my family with my savings, but it is getting hard to survive because prices have gone up”.  

Babu and his family are among the more than a million people estimated to be in need of food.

Outside another tent, a woman is washing her hair the best she can in a bucket. Alongside her, a little girl plays in an empty box while her brother and his friends wrestle and giggle nearby.

“The earthquake destroyed my house, but luckily we are alive,” said Ram Kumari Shrestha, 32, originally from Okhaldhunga district. They have been camping in Kathmandu with her two children and husband since Saturday when their apartment was destroyed. “The tent is broken and we are cold. We do not know how long we will have to stay on the street.” The family would like to return to their home village, but bus ticket prices, as well as demand for them, have spiked since the quake. Long queues, for more than a kilometre, snaked along a main street in the capital as people waited for buses to take them to their homes.

WFP and its 136 staff members in Nepal are working with emergency response teams and logistics experts from abroad to reinforce the response.

Reaching Survivors with Lifesaving Food and Supplies

Despite heavy rain, weak network communications, and inaccessible roads WFP managed to complete food distributions in Gumda VDC of the Gorkha District on Wednesday, 29 April. WFP is also working hard, through its logistics mandate, to make sure that all kinds of relief items – not just food – arrive in the country and are provided to those in need as quickly as possible, through the most appropriate partners.

How You Can Help

WFP needs US$116.5 million to provide food for 1.4 million people for three months.

  • Please donate today and help get lifesaving food reach families who need us the most.​

WFP has quickly started its life-saving work thanks to multilateral (un-earmarked) funding provided by 38 governments, alongside UN common funds and private partners. Denmark’s government, one of the top donors to WFP’s Immediate Response Account, was also among the first to announce its support for WFP in Nepal, hours after the Appeal launch, pledging DKK10 million (approx. US$1.5 million). Denmark was also the first country to pledge funds to WFP after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

For the families still sleeping outside in the city’s makeshift tent districts, life is very far from back to normal. Many families have lost their homes so even though the tremors have stopped, for now, they have no place to return to. 

646041
04/30/2015 - 08:13

Post-harvest management, training in farming as a business and embracing development programmes are not subjects you would usually think would inspire a song but that is exactly what has happened in Anaka in northern Uganda.  A group of female farmers have composed the songs, which are all related to WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, to show their gratitude for the support they have received and how their lives have been transformed.

“There was tension between my husband and I as we were extremely poor and couldn’t pay for the children to go to school,” explained Juliet Atim. “My father, who was a teacher, assisted us for a while but he was then killed. Therefore it means a lot to me to now have enough money to be able to educate my children. My first born Brian Okeroyot is 25 years and has completed university and will graduate soon.”

In 2013, Juliet earned an amount of money she had never touched before – some US$1,132. She used some of it to pay school fees for her four children and to plant pine trees. As the pines sprout from the ground, she expects to use them as collateral to obtain a bank loan. This loan will then enable her to plant citrus trees and to begin to build a house for her family.

Working in partnership

WFP has been working with the NGO Action Contre La Faim (ACF) in northern Uganda since 2009, a few years after the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency came to an end in the region. WFP sponsors trainings conducted by ACF in post-harvest management, leadership, group dynamics and farming as a business. WFP has also provided a community grain store to enable smallholder farmer groups to store, bulk and market their grain more profitably.

Florence Akot is extremely pleased that she has learnt about post-harvest handling, the power in group marketing and in waiting for a better price. From her maize earnings this year, Florence bought a piece of land and planted more maize and groundnuts.

“I learnt from WFP and ACF how to select the right enterprise. I know I will have a market for the maize and even more for the groundnuts. I will sell some of the groundnuts and keep the rest for eating at home,” she explained with a smile.

Improved prices year after year

“Each year, we have noted an increment in membership, bulking and improved prices at the store,” said Robert Dikua, a project manager at ACF.

In 2011 only 4.5 metric tons of grain was bulked together but in 2014 the farmers put together over 375 metric tons, which helped them sell their grain at a better price.  Between 2008 and 2013, farmer groups trading through the WFP-sponsored stores across Uganda sold their grain for over 220 percent more than their counterparts.

As the women start to perform their songs and dance, a man playing a locally crafted instrument joins in. They even begin to sing about Juliet’s pine trees and her future citrus trees.

 

Purchase for Progress (P4P) focuses on strengthening the capacity of farmers’ organizations (FO) to aggregate and sell commodities to quality buyers, such as WFP. Through partnerships with the government, indigenous and international NGOs, and others, P4P has provided smallholder farmers with the necessary training and equipment to increase their production, improve crop quality and strengthen FO marketing capacity.

646155
04/29/2015 - 18:00
The Far North Region is one of Cameroon's poorest regions. The influx of IDPs and refugees, and the drastic livelihoods disruption caused by violence in Nigeria and across the border have worsened the plight of thousands of people. Farmers have been forced to abandon their fields, depriving them of sufficient food and income, whilst cross-border trade has been significantly disrupted. Nearly 200,000 people are facing an acute food insecurity and livelihood crisis in the areas hosting refugees, returnees and IDPs. Of the nearly 200,000 refugees and IDPs, only about 45,000 live in a camp setting, the vast majority living with host populations, putting additional pressure on already strained communities.

WFP provided food to almost 32,000 refugees at the Minawao camp, located about 130 km from the border with Nigeria. Before refugees are even registered at the camp, WFP provides them with high-energy biscuits, which are often much needed after long and grueling journeys.

Refugees in Minawao camp.  Photo: WFP/Sofia Engdahl.

However, due to funding gaps, IDPs and host communities in the Far North region have missed out on essential food assistance for the past six months. Only in mid-April, WFP was able to provide a reduced ration (covering food needs for 15 days) to some 20,000 IDPs - about a quarter of the current number of IDPs.

IDPs in Fotokol region during WFP food distribution.  Photo WFP/Boubakary Bello.

The high level of malnutrition among newly arrived refugees is also worrisome. When people arrive in the Minawao camp, often tired and hungry, they are typically screened for malnutrition. The emergency threshold for Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) is 15 percent, but among the refugees in the camp, levels have risen to over 22 percent. With the onset of the rainy season, the nutrition situation is likely to worsen. 

One refugee, 23-year-old Aicha, arrived in the camp barefoot, with her twin babies, having lost her shoes along the journey. “Militants came, killed, and took all our property. We walked by foot to get to Cameroon – we had no money and nothing to eat on the way.”

Photo: WFP/Sofia Engdahl

Both of her children are suffering from Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM), and are now receiving help in a WFP-supported heath facility set up in the camp. In an effort to reduce the high malnutrition rate, WFP plans to distribute highly nutritious food supplements to over 10,200 children in the Minawao camp. Across the Far North Region, WFP plans to expand its activities to 167 locations, reaching 41,700 children to combat malnutrition and food insecurity.

Refugees in the Minawao camp.  Photo WFP/Sofia Engdahl.

Overall, WFP aims to support 225,000 people in Cameroon, a number that includes refugees, returnees, IDPs, and host communities. But without urgent funding, in May and June, WFP will only be able to cover the needs of refugees in the Minawao camp – only 20 percent of the total people WFP aims to support. To provide life-saving assistance to all those in need through the end of 2015, WFP requires US$40.3 million.  

Refugees in Minawao camp. Photo: WFP/Sofia Engdahl.

To date, WFP has been able to secure US$ 9 million, leaving a funding gap of 78 percent. Vulnerable communities across the Far North Region cannot afford to have less than a quarter of the support that they so direly need.

 

 

Violence by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria and insecurity across the border inflict more suffering on people living in Cameroon's Far North Region. More than 100,000 people in the northern region of Cameroon are uprooted as Boko Haram violence has spilled across the border, doubling the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the past two months. In addition, about 74,000 Nigerians - forced to leave behind their homes, family and livelihoods - are seeking refuge in the Far North region. The World Food Programme has been supporting those in need with food distributions and nutrition activities to address high rates of malnutrition, especially amongst the newly arrived refugee children and mothers. Funding shortfalls, however, threaten to seriously hamper WFP's ability to provide life-saving assistance to all people in dire need of help.

646142
04/29/2015 - 14:04

In Sierra Leone, World Food Programme is not only supporting efforts to get to zero Ebola cases but it is also helping vulnerable communities recover from Ebola's heavy toll. This is where WFP's Purchase for Progress (P4P) inititative plays a crucial role. Put it simply, the initiative enables WFP to buy food from small-scale farmers, helping them to not only restore their own liveliehoods and rebuild their lives, but at the same time to help people affected by Ebola who continue to benefit from WFP's food distributions.

In April, WFP engaged with 25 small-scale farmers' organisations to purchase 253 metric tons of rice and peas, which will be used in food distributions across Sierra Leone to communities which have been hit hard by Ebola. The World Bank supports this initiative, having contributed US$ 1.2 million to go towards local purchases.

In Sierra Leone, small-scale farmers are some of the poorest and most food-insecure communities in the country. By prioritising local purchases, WFP puts money directly into farmers' pockets while continuing to provide food for communities affected by Ebola. It helps boost the economy at a microlevel - farmers have the means to support themselves and rebuild their livelihoods -  and at the community level, as it injects resources into local economies that have dwindled during the heights of the crisis. 

In their own words:

“Ebola hit us hard. We could not work on our farms because of the restrictions on movements. Some of our members died from the virus. My family, my community and I were quarantined at the beginning of the year, so we couldn’t do things like harvest rice on time. Although my production decreased compared to last year, we have still been able to produce rice for sale, and we are counting on selling at least 5 metric tons of rice to WFP."   - Marie Kargbo, Chairwoman Sabenty Farmers' Association, Kambia district, Gbalamuya Village (second from left).

“We feel very proud to sell to an international organisation such as WFP! This will increase our visibility in the agricultural sector and with the money from the WFP contracts we can share the revenues with our farmers. We want to buy fertilizers and other materials for the upcoming planting season in May. And we are considering buying a power tiller…”  - Isatu Sessay, Chairwoman Takelenh Women’s Farmer Association, Kambia district, Kokupr Village.

"Because of Ebola, we thought our production would not be attractive to sellers but WFP is supporting us by buying our rice and distributing it to the Ebola-affected population. We are glad to contribute to feeding the country, and vulnerable communities that are still in need, including the patients in the Ebola treatment centers.”   - Fatmata Fofana, Chairwoman Lenh-Kuru Rice Farmers' Cooperative,Port Loko district, Woreh Village

In 2014, despite the challenges posed by the outbreak of the Ebola virus, WFP purchased more than 120 mt of rice and pea to be benefit school children (as part of WFP's school feeding programme) and vulnerable communities (as part of WFP's Food for Assets programme). About US$ 85,000 went directly to smallholder farmers, helping them weather the storm of the Ebola virus.

Since September 2014, WFP has bought more than 22,00 metric tons of food across the three Ebola-affected countries, including 3,000 mt produced locally.

Since August 2014, WFP has provided food assistance to more than 1 million people in Sierra Leone, and in March this year, WFP reached over 220,000 people. WFP continues to support the fight againt Ebola and all efforts to reach zero Ebola cases, whilst supporting recovery in the short and medium term, and building future preparedness to prevent such important human capital and economic losses in the future.  

"Because of Ebola, we thought our production would not be attractive to sellers but WFP is supporting us by buying our rice and distributing it to the Ebola-affected population. We are glad to contribute to feeding the country, and vulnerable communities that are still in need, including the patients in the Ebola treatment centers," Fatmata, small-scale farmer in Sierra Leone.

 

646136
04/28/2015 - 16:49

I Instantly Felt the Need to Contribute and Help

My name is Enja Sæthren and this is my story - I was on a field trip to the see the worst affected districts of the 2014 flooding in Nepalgjung. We were in the middle of a bridge when a woman in front of us was suddenly thrown from her motorbike. My Nepali driver instantly understood what was happening - an earthquake had hit Kathmandu Valley.

It was hard to think clearly; first we ran out of the car and stood near a pole, but as the quakes grew stronger we understood that we had to cross the bridge. We decided to head towards the WFP Nepal office. On our way we saw buildings falling apart and desperate people running in the streets. When we finally reached the office, one of the security guards was frozen with shock. We quickly got her to the hospital and returned to the office.

During the next several hours many aftershocks followed and more and more people from different UN agencies came to seek protection. As it got colder we stayed in the UN vehicles and tried to connect with other colleagues through our radios.

Surviving the Damage Makes Me Feel Fortunate

[photo|646153] My house is located in Patan Durbar Square, the temple area that was badly affected. I tried to enter the house to fetch my computer and work documents, but the area was so damaged that I could not get through. I called the Nepali family I live with; they were fortunately okay, but they told me to not come home. During the night I moved locations several times, seeking a safe spot. However, Kathmandu is a city of tall, old buildings not made for earthquakes. The night was marked by insecurity and worry over the humanitarian crisis I would have to face the following morning.

The next day I went around to assess the disaster and the need for support. Looking at all the damaged buildings and talking with many people who are now homeless, some of them with family members who are injured or dead, made me feel very fortunate. Though it has been concerning not knowing where to take shelter, at least I have my family safe back home in Norway. I instantly felt a very strong need to contribute and do something constructive, rather than just moving from place to place, seeking protection.

Relief Hub Aided in Preparing for Disaster

[donation-form|2015-wfp-nepal-emergency-webstory|2015-wfp-nepal-emergency-webstory|5279]It has taken some time to assess what and where the most demanding needs will be. Everything was very chaotic in the beginning; even though we all knew it probably was going to happen during the year, we could not possibly prepare fully for it. However, WFP's Relief Hub in Nepal, inaugurated only last month as part of WFP’s emergency preparedness work, aided in a more rapid response to the Nepal earthquake.

The worst part is the lack of knowledge and communication. In most natural disasters, locals tend to have a lot of insight about what will happen and how to wisely prepare and act. However, with earthquakes occurring every 80 years, it leaves little predictability in how to respond when the moment arrives. Initially, we thought we would have two big earthquakes and then 12 smaller aftershocks, but the aftershocks have been much stronger than any of us had foreseen, one of them at a 6.7 magnitude. Continuously, there are rumors about what will happen next. A lot of people are still very afraid.

I am worried about the possible social and health crisis in the aftermath. The hygienic conditions for those living on the streets is very severe. What will happen when their medical status worsens, as hospitals are already at maximum capacity treating the injured?  How will people react to shortages of food and necessities? Furthermore, how can we provide housing to all of those who have lost their homes?

WFP dedicated staff and emergency members, working on little sleep and nothing more than crackers, have been relocated to the airport where we are arranging the distribution of food and relief hub operations. The challenges we face are minimal compared to those greatly affected.

WFP Activates Emergency Protocol

The Nepalese government has officially declared a state of emergency and has asked for international humanitarian assistance. In response, WFP's specialised emergency teams have arrived and begun food distribution in less than 72 hours after the disaster struck. As of Monday, WFP has already dispatched 10 mt of rice, pulses and high-energy biscuits in the most affected areas - for now three Village Development Committees in the Gorkha District. It is precisely in a crisis like this that WFP’s multilateral (un-earmarked) funding is crucial – before an appeal is finalized – to respond quickly and efficiently to greatest needs.  Norway, among Nordic countries, is a leading contributor to WFP’s multilateral funds as well as being a top donor to the Immediate Response Account.

How You Can Help

WFP needs US $116.5 million to provide food for 1.4 million people for three months.

  • Please donate today and help get lifesaving food reach families who need us the most.​

I have never strongly understood the importance of our organisation's work until this devastating emergency. Despite all my grief for the situation the earthquake has caused, I feel privileged to be here in Nepal, being able to make an impact.