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

09/02/2014 - 16:51

WFP has launched a regional emergency operation which will provide food assistance to around 1.3 million people in the three most affected countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Food is being distributed to people under medical quarantine, people under treatment, and their relatives. We are working alongside national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners. 

The objective is to prevent a health crisis from becoming a food crisis. In the three countries, the food chain is threatened at many levels, starting with production. Farmers are leaving behind their crops and livestock as they seek areas they perceive as safer from exposure to the virus. Travel restrictions and displacements are likely to affect food prices.

The bans on eating traditional protein sources, such as bush meat, may also have implications for the food security and nutrition of people in these communities. Some of the animals that people normally hunt for food, such as bats and apes, are known to be potential carriers of the Ebola virus.

On the top of that, hundreds of households have already lost one or more of their members. The majority of Ebola victims fall within the 15-45 year bracket and are therefore frequently the main income providers. The reduction of household income coupled with the already observed food price rise will further deteriorate the food security situation.

The spread of ebola

The current Ebola epidemic in West Africa began with an outbreak in Guinea in December 2013. It has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. It is the most severe outbreak since the discovery of the virus in 1976. Click to enlarge map.

Food assistance

Here's what WFP is doing in the three most affected countries: 

Guinea: WFP began food distributions because of Ebola four months ago and has reached around 40,000 people (in Biffa, Fria, Télémélé, N’Zerekore, Macenta and Guekedo). Preparations are being made to gradually increase distributions to 464,000 people over a period of three months.

Sierra Leone: WFP is reaching Ebola patients in health centres and affected households in the epicentres of Kenema and Kailahun as well as houses that are under quarantine in 12 out of 13 districts in Sierra Leone. Up to 400,000 people in Sierra Leone are targeted under the regional response for the next 3 months.

Liberia: Between 1 July and the end of August, WFP delivered food to some 43,700 people at Ebola case management centres and in quarantined communities. The distributions have covered nine of Liberia’s 15 counties, including the West Point slum community in the capital Monrovia and the Ebola epicentre of Foya District in Liberia’s northern Lofa County.


WFP manages the UN Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD), which store emergency supplies that can be quickly transported within 24-48 hours. UNHRD has recently sent more than US$220, 000 worth of protective gear like gloves, masks and emergency health kits for the World Health Organisation (WHO), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and WFP from its depots in Ghana and Dubai.

WFP also manages the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), which transports humanitarian workers and light cargo to emergencies around the world. UNHAS is currently operating in West Africa and has flown more than 100 passengers from organisations like WHO, UNICEF, MSF and WFP into and out of the Ebola affected areas since 16 August. 

The UN World Food Programme is responding to the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa with an operation that aims to provide food to 1.3 million people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. WFP is also assisting the wider humanitarian community with logistics, helping other organisations to get aid workers and critical supplies into the affected areas. Donate here

08/29/2014 - 07:19

For a road assessment, I travelled with WFP civil engineer Tsota Assegued and logistics officer Allan Busiinge to Rokon, a small locality 80 kilometers northwest of Juba, to evaluate the obstacles that our trucks are facing on the road headed north toward Rumbek. 

Barely 18 km outside of the capital, we met the first obstacle:  A bridge had collapsed sometime back, and a ford had been constructed as a temporary measure to get traffic across the river. 

When we got there, the crossing was flooded but passable, with some trucks, cars and motorbikes driving through the torrent of water.  It could have been worse. Some soldiers stationed at the bridge told us that two nights before it was almost impossible to cross because of heavy rains. 

“Whenever it rains and there is flood, the level of water rises to about 1.5 metres and traffic is blocked,” Assegued said. “A remedial measure would be to install a series of pipes underneath the concrete deck (of the ford) which would ensure that less water flows over the deck,” he added after taking notes and GPS coordinates of the location. 

Struggling Through The Mud

From this point onward the road conditions deteriorated further. We drove through potholes the size of a swimming pool filled with mud. Little streams and rivers cut sections of the road. Crossing one of these points, it felt like our 4x4 was swimming.  

At a point around 40 km from Juba, I counted about 30 trucks waiting for the earth to harden so they could attempt to drive through a degraded segment of road. About half of them were transporting WFP food commodities. 

What was supposed to be the road had become an expanse of mud, broken up by a series of earthen ridges and waterlogged gutters.  A trailer returning to Juba after delivering WFP cargo attempted to cross as we watched. It was a bad idea. Seconds into the attempt the mammoth vehicle was stuck, the engine grunting in the middle of the mess. Some of the wheels were spinning but the rest were thrust deep into the mud.  Out came the implements: spades, pick-axes, and diggers. Time to dig out the mud that had clogged some of the wheels and fill the ditch with what hard soil could be found, to ease passage for the truck.


We made it past this treacherous stretch of “road,” though; the lighter 4x4 vehicles in our convoy hopped and skidded their way through. 

A Complete Break In The Road

After three hours of bumpy and slippery driving, we arrived in Rokon, but even then there wasn’t much relief. Trucks were everywhere. The drivers said there were between 100 and 150 trucks transporting goods and cargo for businesses and aid agencies, many with stickers showing they had been hired by WFP to transport food. Were there 50, 60 WFP-hired trucks?  I lost count.  That’s about 2,250 metric tons of food that was stuck on the road. That is enough to feed 96,000 people for a month. How long would it take for this food to reach the people who need it so badly? 

The trucks were all held back by a 500-metre stretch of impassable road. Right in the middle was a truck about 1.5 metres deep in mud. It just couldn’t budge. It was carrying 45 metric tons of specialized nutrition commodities for WFP. Other trucks were transporting cereals, pulses and vegetable oil. 

High Spirits

What struck me was the mood of the drivers and their assistants. Some were cooking on the roadside while others were digging a new road to allow vehicles to pass, all in a light-hearted mood filled with lively banter.

When the drivers saw Allan, the logistics officer, they skipped in the mud with excitement. Allan used to be a convoy leader and has known many of these drivers for years.  

“Allan, we’ve been here for four days,” said Soumaili Kaka, one of the drivers. “The roads are really bad. I have been on the road for one month! I left Juba on 22 July headed to Aweil, and I am still on my way back. Can you imagine? Something needs to be done.” 

Dangerous Delays

Road transport is a challenge in any rainy season in South Sudan, but the current severe deterioration of the road network is leading to substantial delays in the delivery of much needed food assistance.  A road trip that would normally take two days from Juba to Rumbek now takes a week. 

Because the country is facing an enormous humanitarian crisis, these delays are dangerous.  WFP is having to consider carrying out emergency road repair works on some vital trunk roads so we can keep getting food through.  The alternative is to fly food around the country, but moving food by air costs seven times more than sending it by road – so the repairs make financial sense. 

WFP has dealt with this before.  Between 2004 and 2011, WFP ran a roads project that repaired 2,600 km of roads in what is today South Sudan, linking eight out of the 10 key cities and establishing road corridors not only to the north, but also to Uganda and Kenya. The country's authorities took over the responsibility of maintaining trunk roads after independence in 2011 and WFP refocused its road construction activities on rehabilitating smaller feeder roads that connect agriculturally productive areas to markets. Unfortunately, in many places the main roads have fallen into disrepair.  

The drivers clearly miss the old days.

“We are transporting WFP food to help people in this country, [so] you [WFP] have to do something like in the old days and send a rapid repair team,” Kaka appealed.




South Sudan’s rainy season brings months of intense downpours. For aid agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP), the country’s limited road infrastructure makes moving humanitarian supplies difficult – particularly in the rainy season.  After reports that swamped roads were blocking trucks on a route vital for food delivery, WFP dispatched a team to assess the situation. WFP’s George Fominyen went along.

08/27/2014 - 23:29

BOGOTA. –La Guajira, one of the 32 departments of Colombia, is located in the Northwest region of the country and about half of its population is made up of indigenous groups with high levels of poverty. In 2013, slightly more than 50 percent of the population of La Guajira were considered impoverished. 

The decrease in rainfall in recent years in La Guajira has had serious negative effects on the levels of food and nutritional security and on the overall health of the population. The lack of food and water has affected more than 63,000 people, most of them concentrated in the municipalities of Riohacha, Uribía and Manaure. There have also been serious consequences for the agricultural and livestock sectors. The Colombian Agricultural Institute reported that the lack of water has killed more than 20,000 cattle.

“This Situation is Worrisome”

This situation of food and nutritional insecurity is worrisome because it is affecting the masses, especially those highly vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children under 2 years of age. “We're talking here about the nutrition at a critical age for the physical and cognitive development of children. Inadequate nutrition can have irreversible effects on brain development, physical growth and chronic diseases; all of this resulting in lifelong consequences.” said Ana Mercedes Cepeda, WFP nutritionist in Colombia.

To respond to this situation of food insecurity, WFP offers support to the Government of Colombia to rebuild and strengthen the livelihoods of those most affected and to recover the nutritional status of the population.

WFP Activities in La Guajira

Since early 2014, WFP has been working to improve the food security in the Department of La Guajira of isolated rural areas, population of urban areas, population affected by the conflict and people who have been affected by both conflict and natural disasters. 

WFP, in collaboration with the Government and other partners, conducts relief and recovery projects such as Food for goods or training; School Feeding and distributions of supplementary food for children. With these dietary interventions WFP plans to assist more than 11,000 people in La Guajira this year.

The prolonged drought in the Department of La Guajira in recent years has exacerbated the levels of undernutrition within the population, including children under 5 years of age. La Guajira is currently on alert due to the prevalent effects of food scarcity, lack of water and livelihoods insecurity. The World Food Programme (WFP) offers its support to the Government of Colombia.

08/22/2014 - 15:07
Food For Assets

In rural Guatemala, droughts and recurrent natural disasters make it difficult for many families to cover their basic food needs.

In 1991, the Government of Guatemala partnered with WFP to help the most vulnerable communities - provide them with food and strengthen their livelihoods to withstand natural disasters.

Between 1991 and 1996, various community groups took part in Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) programmes to improve their long-term food security. 

FFA is one of WFP’s key programmes to meet immediate food needs of vulnerable people by having them build or boost assets that will benefit the whole community. 

In Guatemala, WFP provided necessary food to enable people to participate in a variety of water and soil conservation, reforestation activities and crop-diversification trainings. The Government of Guatemala provided technical assistance through its Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. 

Joint efforts bring long-term food security

The communities’ involvement and dedication was essential to ensure ownership and sustainability of the activities.

In fact, when WFP left the initiatives in the hands of the community, there was already an increase in food security and land productivity as new irrigation systems were built. 

Families have increased their income diversifying their agricultural production and selling surplus.

Today, these communities continue implementing and improving the activities from the initial programme. 

Also neighbouring communities replicated these activities. Francisco, a farmer that was part of the project, tells us “other people saw the results and replicated our projects, on their own. Our whole village has been improved, not only the project participants, but almost the entire village.”  

Today, almost 20 years later, these communities are considered resilient. They have improved their overall food security and withstood major climatic events such as recent hurricanes Mitch and Stan.

In the 1990s, WFP worked with the Government of Guatemala to support the most vulnerable and food-insecure communities through Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) programmes. Today, almost 20 years later, these communities continue implementing and improving the activities from the initial programme and are considered resilient.

08/21/2014 - 15:48
Responding to Emergencies

GIHEMBE CAMP – When they first fled their home in Masisi, in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for fear of being killed by militia, Agnes Nyirakanyana and her family believed that they would soon be able to return. But after almost two years living in the forests praying for an elusive peace which never came, they began the journey towards Rwanda.

“We had no big problem with food as there was so much to eat in the forest but it was very hard living in the trees, we missed the sun” said Agnes with grief etched into her face “Two of my children died as we travelled here to find safety”.

That was 18 years ago.  Since then, home for 56-year old Agnes and her five children has been the Gihembe refugee camp in eastern Rwanda. Here, Agnes and her family have relied on a monthly food basket of maize, beans, oil and salt provided by the World Food Programme (WFP). But this year everything has changed again for Agnes, as the WFP general food ration has been replaced with cash.

“I did not believe it at first; it was something impossible for me to believe,” said Agnes, her eyes suddenly lighting up. “It has changed everything for the better; I have control again.”

Embracing Technology, Improving Equity 

In January 2014, WFP began implementing a cash transfer pilot project targeting 14,500 refugees in Gihembe refugee camp. The new cash programme modifies the general food distribution, and is partly in response to studies that show refugees needed to diversify their diets to protect or improve their nutrition status.

WFP provided 3,500 mobile phone handsets to the head of households in the camp to facilitate the electronic money transfer using the mVisa technology provided by VISA Inc. Each beneficiary receives RWF 6,300 (US$9) per month to cater for their food needs. The transfer value is based on the average projected local market price of the commodities that were provided in the WFP food basket. A small amount of additional cash is also provided to cover the withdrawal fees, in accordance with the household size.

Beneficiaries also have the option to pay for food items directly from their phone to registered traders operating in or around the camp. And everyone receives their funds on the same day, without waiting in queues, whereas food distributions took time.

So the introduction of cash has not only empowered the refugees and diversified their diets but improved equity among them. Feedback is overwhelmingly positive, even from those who have found the change a bit more daunting than others.

“I had never used a telephone before and did not believe that money could come from this machine” said 63 year-old Kanyamihigo Bosco as he tapped his mobile phone “but after the training I could do it. For an old man like me it is good to eat softer food like rice and vegetables which is now what I buy with my money.”

Supporting The Most Vulnerable

In addition to the cash transfer, the most vulnerable people also receive additional fortified food rations under WFP’s safety-net interventions, including blanket supplementary feeding to prevent malnutrition among children under 2years of age, pregnant women and nursing monthers. For children between the ages of 2 and 5 who have been diagnosed with moderate acute malnutrition, WFP also provides curative supplementary foods as treatment to help them recover. Children attending primary school are provided with mid-morning porridge to increase their attendance rate and retention rate.

WFP provides food to around 200,000 people across Rwanda, including refugees hosted in five camps. All refugees in the camps are from DRC, and are entirely dependent on WFP food assistance. While the cash programme is currently only operating in one of the five camps for now, WFP is exploring the expansion of the programme, including market assessments to determine if the local markets around the other refugee camps are healthy enough to cope with the additional demand.

“The cash programme has received overwhelming support and we are beginning to see a positive impact on the refugees’ nutritional status” said WFP Country Director Jean-Pierre Demargerie. “By providing cash, we are not only empowering those that receive it but it is an opportunity to stimulate local trade and to extend the benefits of WFP’s operation to the local community outside Gihembe camp. We welcome continued support from donors to enable us to continue and indeed expand this programme.”

For Agnes and others like her, this is a change that is being warmly welcomed.

“Our lives have changed since the cash started. We live better now, the best life ever,” said Agnes with a beaming smile.

Fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has resulted in more than 76,000 people seeking refuge in Rwanda. In Gihembe camp, Northern Province, where WFP and its partners are providing assistance to more than 14,500 people, a new cash programme is improving the dietary diversity of the refugees as well as empowering them by giving them the ability to decide for themselves what they eat.

08/18/2014 - 22:24
Aid professionals

Mario Sibrian is the World Food Programme Regional Air Safety Officer in Nairobi, but he is currently based in Juba, the capital city of the youngest nation: South Sudan, a country ravaged by conflict and food insecurity, and one of the five largest WFP emergency operations in the world.

He is a retired Honduran Air Force Major and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of San Pedro Sula. He firmly believes that the combination of these professional areas have allowed him to carry out his duties in WFP’s large scale emergency operations. He was involved in humanitarian initiatives in Post-war Iraq (2003), the Mozambique Floods (2003 and 2008), the devastating tsunami that hit Asia (2005), the Pakistan Earthquake (2005), the Cyclones in Madagascar (2009 and 2010), the Haiti Earthquake (2010), the Pakistan Floods (2010) and the Haiyan Typhoon in the Philippines (2013).

“I met Mario for the first time during the Haiti operation in 2010,” said WFP Air Transportation Officer, German Puente, in Bentiu/Rubkona, South Sudan. “He worked very hard with us to instruct crews on how to operate in a hostile environment. On another occasion, in Pakistan, we were asked to facilitate the assembly of three helicopters to operate as soon as possible. Without his assistance and capacity, it would have taken much longer to start the air support.”

Working in the most high risk operations, delivering food in an extremely congested airspace and in the most difficult weather conditions, transporting the injured, managing air operations or working in the most dangerous airports in the world, has not stopped Mario to fulfill the mandate of the World Food Programme.

"Working with WFP is very rewarding and satisfying personally and professionally. I have been given the opportunity to contribute my knowledge and experience in the field of aviation and business administration, for the benefit of humanity," he said.

Mario thanks God for the opportunity, and is grateful to WFP and the donor community for supporting him and his colleagues with resources to carry out their humanitarian mission to deliver food and bring relief to communities in need.

To help those who are in need has been part of a legacy that his father, a physician, sewed in his heart when he was a child. Mario Sibrian, a Honduran national working in South Sudan for WFP Aviation, has been living up to his father's legacy for the last 14 years. That is his driving force behind his commitment to humanitarian assistance during the tsunami in Asia, the Haiti Earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

08/18/2014 - 16:52
Climate Change, Responding to Emergencies

Quick Response in Times of Crisis

The rural population of Nicaragua is suffering from the effects of a prolonged drought that is causing food insecurity nationwide, and food is needed urgently. WFP in collaboration with the Nicaraguan Government are quick to respond, preparing food rations that contain kidney beans, rice, maize, fortified cereal with micronutrients, vegetable oil and salt to bring relief to 46.000 affected families. Photo: WFP/Sabrina Quezada

Food Rations for 66 Municipalities

At the request of the Government of Nicaragua to provide urgent food relief to rural families affected by the lack of rainfall, WFP allocated more than 1.400 metric tons of food and covered the transportation costs to the capital cities of the nine departments that will be receiving assistance. Then the food will be sent to the vulnerable families living in 66 rural municipalities hit by the drought. Photo: WFP/Sabrina Quezada

The Worst Drought in Over Three Decades

The effects of climate change are hitting Nicaragua hard. The current severe drought is causing not only harvest losses but the reduction of drinkable water sources. The weather phenomenon of “El Niño” is causing this crisis, which is affecting subsistence farmers and farm laborers. According to government information, the current drought affecting Nicaragua is the harshest one recorded over the last 32 years. During this rainy season the country has experienced a 50% reduction in average rainfall and 6-7 degree Celsius temperature rise. Photo: Courtesy/Oswaldo Rivas

The Impact on Children

The drought is having a strong economic, social, and environmental impact within the affected countries. The most vulnerable are children, women, and the elderly who witness a reduction of home food reserves. Heads of households migrate to neighboring countries in search of jobs, forcing them to leave their children in the care of grandparents and other family members. Photo: WFP/Sabrina Quezada

No Harvest, No Food on the Table

Without sufficient rain, the crops from the season’s first harvest quickly deteriorated.  Smallholder farmers are helpless as their staple grains of maize, beans, and rice perished, overwhelmed by the hot sun and lack of rain. Yet they remain hopeful for the upcoming planting season (August-January). However specialist estimate that the drought will persist for another two months. Photo: Courtesy/Oswaldo Rivas

Loss of Livestock

Producers of milk and beef have reported an approximate loss of 2,500 cattle due to starvation. Once lush grazing pastures, have dried up. It is estimated that some 600,000 cattle are at risk across the country, should this drought continue. Photo: Courtesy/Oswaldo Rivas

Severity of Climate Change

"Climate change is affecting the local weather and its impact demands immediate attention to prevent deterioration of the health and nutrition of people, especially women, children and the elderly,” said WFP Representative, Helmut Rauch. “Drought has a severe impact on the households’ economy. When the lack of rains affect crops, families fail to receive their income and have food reserves for the rest of the year”, said WFP Representative, Helmut Rauch. Photo: WFP/Sabrina Quezada

A severe drought is affecting much of Central America. At the request of the Government of Nicaragua, WFP is providing urgent food relief to rural families affected by what is thought to be the worst drought in three decades. The resources of this operation were part of contributions made by Canada, Brazil and Australia.

07/31/2014 - 23:48
Focus on Women

1. The week begins with a series of talks done by different people from different institutions and companies.

Companies gather and share their experiences on the topic of “mothers and breastfeeding”. The goal of the talks is to work as an incentive for companies, to create safe spaces where mothers can breastfeed their children and places in the workplace where mothers can breast pump and store their milk. (Copyright: WFP/Tayra Pinzon)

2. Then the Annual Family Fair called: La Gran Tetada (The Breastfeeding Fest) takes place

In this family fair, mothers from all over Panama bring their babies to Parque Omar to learn and share experiences of breastfeeding.  Mothers’ breastfeed their children together, while listening to educational talks on how to properly breastfeed children, effective techniques of breastfeeding, and the importance of breastfeeding. (Copyright: Comisión Nacional de Fomento a la Lactancia Materna)

3. Mass Media Promotes Breastfeeding in TV and Radio

All media networks are connected this week to broadcast information about breastfeeding. Most interview people in the government, health institutions, or medical facilities. The objective is to reach as many persons possible, all over the country and in the most remote areas. (Copyright: Comisión Nacional de Fomento a la Lactancia Materna)

4. Baby Care-packages are delivered!

Panama provides baby care-packages, which include baby shampoo, baby wipes, baby powder, baby everything! They deliver these in different facilities while providing mothers with educational pamphlets and talks about proper breastfeeding. (Copyright: WFP/Tayra Pinzon)

5. Finally the Closing Ceremony Takes Place in a Hospital that Has a Breast Milk Bank

A Breast Milk Bank is a center where human milk, donated by selected mothers, is received, stored, and distributed to children that do not count with milk from their own mother. Because Panama only has a limited amount of these facilities. The goal of hosting the closing ceremony in the hospital is to promote Breast Milk Banks. (Copyright: WFP/Tayra Pinzon)

From the 1st to the 7th of August, Breastfeeding Week is all about promoting breastfeeding to teens, mothers, institutions, private sector, and organizations. Breastfeeding can change the course of a child’s life!
In Latin America, WFP in Panama is a big fan of breastfeeding because of its important effects on nutrition. Therefore they support the National Commission for Breastfeeding to raise as much awareness during this week.

Here is how Panama raises awareness on Breastfeeding:


07/30/2014 - 17:35
School Meals

It may not be the best school in the world. Some of the classrooms at Mangindrano have no windows. Pupils have to sit on the floor because there are no seats. Up to 100 pupils from different grades share the same classroom and teacher.

What the school lacks in resources, however, is at least partly made up for by the dedication of some of the teachers who occasionally buy chalk out of their own money. Such is the reality of schooling in Bealanana district in northwestern Madagascar and in many of the island’s poorer areas.  

School feeding may not have all the answers in cases of such deprivation but it can do a lot to improve the lot of disadvantaged children. That is why the Government of Madagascar is investing so much in setting up a national school feeding programme, prioritizing the south where the lowest school enrolment rates and the highest levels of food insecurity are found.
"Such a programme is an incentive to attract and keep children at school while providing them the nutrients and energy needed to concentrate in class” explains Volahaingo Marie Thérèse, a parliamentarian from Bealanana.  
School meals promote access to education, improve the nutritional status and health of children, and help break the cycle of hunger and poverty afflicting poor areas. By procuring where possible from smallholder farmers associations, school meals also boost local agricultural production and help the economy.

WFP is supporting the government in the development of a national school feeding programme in Madagascar. A workshop - organized in Antananarivo in mid-July by the Ministry of Education, the World Bank, the Partnership for Child Development and WFP - was the first step in the development of this programme. The process is conducted in line with SABER (System Approach for Better Education Results), an education policy tool developed specially by the World Bank and WFP.

“A national school feeding programme is one of the fundamental values of the General State Policy,” said Prime Minister Kolo Roger at the closing of the workshop. “The action plan resulting from the workshop should be implemented with unequivocal commitment from the Government and renewed commitment from our partners.”

WFP implements a school feeding programme targeting 220,000 beneficiaries in southern Madagascar. For 2014 -15, World Bank funds are helping provide daily hot meals to 107,000 children. US$ 3.5 million are needed to assist the remaining 113,000.  
WFP is continuing to mobilize resources to be able to continue the programme in the south and expand it to other regions where it can make a difference.


Antananarivo – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) supports the development of a national School Feeding programme in Madagascar which will hopefully help improve the education sector as a whole.   

07/22/2014 - 18:44

Yabom Sesay, a woman in her fifties, has traveled over eight miles to the Songo health center from her village in the Port Loko district of northern Sierra Leone. Like many mothers and caretakers of malnourished children, she makes the trip to the clinic every Wednesday to receive food supplies and other services for her seven-month-old grandson Essa.

Essa’s mother, Isatu, died of tooth infection shortly after giving birth, and his father, a tailor, is unable to support him. This has left Sesay, a widowed grandmother, alone to care for Essa and his two siblings. She sells cake to support herself and her grandchildren.

“It has not been easy for me, especially since the children’s father has not been supportive,” she says with tears in her eyes as sweat-drenched Essa sleeps on her lap.

With limited resources available, Sesay used to give Essa powdered milk, but he became severely malnourished and sick at the age of six months. After a month of treatment through the health center’s Outpatient Therapeutic programme, he was enrolled in the center’s Supplementary Feeding Programme, designed to provide continued support for patients with moderate acute malnutrition. Through this programme, children like Essa receive rations of sugar, oil and super cereal plus—an improved corn-soya blend enriched with micronutrients—from WFP to help them recover.

Essa is now one year old and has been discharged from the programme.

“The food that Essa has been eating helped him to gain weight, and he has been healthy ever since,” Sesay proudly recalls. “Without support from WFP, Essa may not have made it.”

The Songo health center is one of 63 supplementary feeding centers in western Sierra Leone supported by WFP thanks to funding from the Government of Japan. Like many of these centers, Songo provides health and nutrition education in addition to vaccination, growth monitoring and supplementary feeding activities.

Malnutrition rates in Sierra Leone are among the highest in the world. Some 46 percent of child deaths in Sierra Leone are attributed to malnutrition, the leading cause of child mortality in the country, and 267 out of every 1,000 children die before their fifth birthday.  Malnutrition will be the primary cause of an estimated 74,000 child deaths during the next five years. If current levels of iodine deficiency do not improve over the next five years, 252,000 children could be born with varying degrees of mental retardation.

A total of 49,740 children are benefiting from the supplementary feeding programme across the country. The programme is vital to reducing malnutrition, and enriched foods provide vulnerable children the nutrients they need to thrive.



Malnutrition rates in Sierra Leone are among the highest in the world and the leading cause of child mortality in the country. In partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, WFP is supporting malnourished children from the poorest households through a supplementary feeding programme, reaching 49,740 children across the country.