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643205
09/17/2014 - 17:32

The road to Barkedu is rich clay red with thigh-deep potholes and bordered by luxuriant bush.  A police checkpoint warns you that you are entering a restricted access area. There are no “Ebola is Real” placards as you see in the capital Monrovia but there are other visual reminders.

Small clusters of houses show no signs of life. Farming families left in a hurry to escape sickness. Only some are slowly returning. Fields that would normally be busy with labourers as harvest time approaches are empty. 

As we arrive in Barkedu’s wide main street, community members are gathering in the solid new meeting hall opposite the town mosque. Paramount chief Moussa Kamara addresses his people and acknowledges the first consignment of rice from WFP, delivered by the local county health teams. The community is prioritizing families who have lost members to Ebola or who have been sick and survived.

But Kamara tells us that ongoing food assistance is needed for the close to 10,000 people in the village and scattered surrounding settlements. 

“For months now we have not been farming our fields, because people have been sick, people have been dying, people have been quarantined. Our own market is closed, we cannot move to secure food and supplies are not coming in,’ Kamara said.

We update the chief on how the World Food Programme is securing new warehouse space in northern Liberia’s transport hub Voinjama and and boosting its teams on the ground to meet growing needs of communities affected by Ebola.  

Among those listening to the paramount chief is Varlee Telleh, an elegant 60 year old man, who radiates sadness. The virus claimed his wife, who died at home, as well as two sons and a daughter in law.

Varlee and his youngest son, four year old Loseme, survived, while another son, who also received medical treatment, did not make it. All three spent several weeks in the one functioning Ebola Treatment Centre in the north – two and a half hours drive away in Foya. 

Varlee has not yet moved back into his family home. It has been disinfected with chlorine, but he still fears the sickness and, he admits, the memories. But he must deal with practical concerns.

“Today after this period of grieving, one of my main worries is to how to cover the loss from the fields.  I am not longer able to tend or harvest them. I wonder how I will provide for my dependents, my extended family. I worry about feeding those who are left after all this”. 

As of 8 September Barkedu counted 165 deaths from Ebola –  one fifth of the country’s fatalities.

In our brief stroll through Barkedu we see houses that are boarded up and roped off. These are all where people have died, possibly, probably from Ebola. No one is taking any chances. 

The presence of survivors in Barkedu is important, as it means that Ebola is not neccessarily a death sentence yet the fear is deep and integrating survivors not always easy. Some survivors display their medical certificates but their pride is muted. Others are being engaged by the local Ebola Task Force as advocates, telling families how to prevent and cope with Ebola. 

As we pass the site of the district market, which used to draw farmers and traders from far and wide, goats nibble grass underneath the simple wooden stalls.  It is a skeleton.  

Ironically Barkedu sits in one of the richest agricultural zones in Liberia and until the Ebola scourge, crops forecasts for farmers this year had been looking good.   

Find Out More

 

In Lofa County, one of Liberia’s most productive farming regions, rural communities have been deeply affected by the spread of the Ebola virus.  Frances Kennedy visited Barkedu where the Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 165 lives and the community is creating its own systems to manage the Ebola threat. The World Food Programme is stepping up food assistance to this and other communities who are struggling to feed themselves.

642722
09/11/2014 - 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 districts). Preparations are being made to gradually increase distributions to 350,000 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 4 September, WFP delivered food to some 67,000 people at Ebola case management centres and in quarantined communities. The distributions have covered 10 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. The plan is to reach 449,000 people over a three-month period.

Logistics

Because of its expertise in logistics, WFP has been given the job of coordinating logistics for the entire humanitarian community involved in the Ebola response. This happens through the 'Logistics Cluster ' -- the group of humanitarian organisations that work together to ensure services like transport and storage work well during big emergencies. The Cluster has already provided support to UN agencies, NGOs and government authorities. 

WFP also manages the UN Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD), which store emergency supplies that can be transported within 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.

In addition, it 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. 

 

 

WFP is scaling up its response to the Ebola virus to provide assistance to around one million people affected by the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, delivering food alongside the health response. 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

643000
09/05/2014 - 10:51
School Meals

LONDON – The ambitious push to raise money and awareness as part of the WFP and IRB Tackle Hunger partnership, comes in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup next year.

Central to the campaign is the ‘Million Meal Challenge’ – which aims to raise funds for one million meals for children who rely on WFP’s school feeding programmes worldwide.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “We are calling on fans to join us in supporting the Million Meal Challenge to help nourish the bodies and minds of those who face a daily challenge of malnutrition and starvation.’

It costs just $50 to provide a child with school meals for a year – which, in many countries, is the only regular and nutritious meal a child receives. WFP provided 19.8 million children with school meals in 2013 – and funds raised around the Rugby World Cup will ensure that more poor households send their children to school and keep them there.

More than $21,000 has already been raised by voluntary online donations through the initial ticket sales, and with global public ticket sales set to launch on 12 September, rugby fans worldwide will have the chance to get behind the campaign.

WFP’s Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, highlighted the link between good nutrition and the ability of children to fulfil their sporting potential: “WFP is instrumental in ensuring that young children get the food they need to reach their full physical and intellectual potential,” she said. “The Tackle Hunger partnership with the IRB shows how the global rugby community can play an instrumental role in supporting our work on the frontlines of hunger.”

With more than 2.3 million fans expected to attend the 48-match, six-week showcase, WFP and IRB expect the Tackle Hunger message to feature prominently and stay in people’s minds long after the games have ended.

Find out more about the Million Meal Challenge and help us raise awareness: #RWCMMC

With only a year to go until one of the most anticipated sports events worldwide, WFP and the International Rugby Board (IRB) have teamed up to raise funds and awareness about hunger at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

642969
09/03/2014 - 14:44
Nutrition, What is Malnutrition?

ROME -- Those of us working to prevent malnutrition around the world often grapple with the question of whether it is better to provide cash or specialized nutritious food to prevent acute child malnutrition. Both options have their benefits and their drawbacks. Now, new evidence from Niger shows that specialized foods are not only effective in preventing acute malnutrition, but are also the more affordable strategy.  The study by Epicentre, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ministry of Public Health in Niger has just been published in the latest issue of the journal PLOS Medicine. Read the paper in full here.

Maradi, in Niger’s south near the border with Nigeria, was chosen as the study location. Driving into the town, there are multinational billboards along the highway next to women selling groundnuts at small road-side stalls. It has annual ‘hunger gaps’ where vulnerable households run low on food before the next harvest. Its particular social and economic make-up allowed a range of malnutrition interventions to be implemented which then meant, for the first time, the results of each option could be directly compared. 

We focused on the incidence of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) among children aged 6–23 months over a five month period. We compared the effectiveness of seven preventive strategies including distribution of specialized nutritious foods (such as Plumpy'doz or Super Cereal Plus), with or without additional household support such as a family food ration or cash transfers, and cash transfer only. 

The main finding is that acute malnutrition among the target group was equally well prevented by providing special nutritious foods to the child as by providing cash support to the household. But the cost of the nutritious food was only 8 euros per child per month (including operational costs), whereas the cash support was 43 euros per household per month. To put it another way, cash support cost four times as much as nutritious food support, with one targeting the household and the other the child, but the outcome on malnutrition prevention in the child was the same.

But this isn’t an argument against cash transfers. The study finds that a combination of cash and nutritious foods may be best. Children of households that received both a cash transfer (slightly lower at 38 euro per month) and a nutritious food had the lowest incidence of acute malnutrition (1.7-2.5 times lower compared to nutritious food only or cash only). 

These results show two things: 1) protecting young children from malnutrition requires good nutrition which is more cost-effectively provided in the form of special nutritious foods as compared to cash or ‘open’ vouchers, and 2) programmes to prevent undernutrition are more impactful when household food security is also ensured, which may require providing food assistance to food insecure households. 

This is in terms of programming for protecting a population during a hunger season in a context like Maradi, Niger.  It means that vulnerable target groups, such as children aged 6-23 months and pregnant and lactating women, should be provided access to adequately fortified nutritious foods, either in-kind or through a voucher for obtaining specific foods where the market functions well. An additional income transfer in the form of cash, vouchers or a food ration, depending on how food can best be accessed, will benefit the most vulnerable households.

Read the study here:
Preventing Acute Malnutrition among Young Children in Crises: A Prospective Intervention Study in Niger in PLOS Medicine. Authors: Céline Langendorf, Thomas Roederer, Saskia de Pee, Denise Brown, Stéphane Doyon, Abdoul-Aziz Mamaty, Lynda W.-M. Touré, Mahamane L. Manzo, Rebecca F. Grais.

Saskia de Pee is a Senior Technical Advisor for Nutrition at WFP

For the first time, a new study from Niger compares different malnutrition interventions within the same community and finds that specialized nutritious foods offer both an effective and affordable approach, writes WFP's Saskia de Pee, one of the study's authors.

642877
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.

642868
08/27/2014 - 23:29
Nutrition

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.

642811
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.

642794
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.

642727
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.

642723
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.