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11/28/2016 - 11:10

Even before we begin talking, Elena Yezani beckons me to join her in her grass-thatched kitchen where, at 2:30 pm, she is preparing the family’s sole meal of the day.

As we start talking about the impact of the El Niño-induced drought in Chidokowe village in the central region district of Ntcheu district, Elena has tears in her eyes.

“Two bags, two bags of maize is all we were able to harvest when usually we get 30 to 40 bags,” says the mother of five.

Prior to receiving food assistance, the family has had to sell most of its livestock. All that remains is a baby pig which looks frail due to lack of food.

Elena’s children are hoping that if the piglet grows, then the family can sell it and use the money for other household needs. But they can’t even feed the piglet.

“What would you feed a pig when humans are eating maize husks usually fed to the animals…?” Elena asks. "Before receiving food assistance from WFP in September, I had to borrow food from a neighbouring village so we could at least feed the kids."

The family’s troubles started with a devastating agricultural season in 2014-15, and then an El Niño-induced drought during the 2015-16 growing season. According to the Malawi Vulnerability assessment Committee, some 6.7 million people will need food assistance during the peak of the lean season.

Elena complains that her youngest child, 18-month-old Fiona, is still breastfeeding although there is little milk due to the mother’s poor diet.

"If there was no food support, people would start dying,” she says.

Families receive a monthly household food ration of maize, pulses and vegetable oil or its cash equivalent.  Families with pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under the age of two, also receive a fortified blended flour (Likuni Phala) to prevent malnutrition.

“It takes us the whole morning to gather firewood for several meals,” she says. “The land is bare, people have cut down the trees to make charcoal which they sell by the roadside so they can buy food.”

To help struggling families recover, WFP and its partners are working with communities to create and rehabilitate productive assets. Elena is making fuel-efficient stoves for her own use and also to sell.

Thanks to the Government of Malawi and support from the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, the European Union, the Netherlands, Australia, Norway and others, millions of food-insecure people like Elena can get through this season and remain hopeful for what is to come.



Thanks to the Government of Malawi and support from the governments around the world, millions of hungry and food-insecure people in Malawi can get through the lean season and nurture some optimism about the future.

11/17/2016 - 11:34
School Meals

The Government of Namibia is taking charge of the future of its children with plans to introduce school meals to secondary schools – in addition to pre- and primary schools which are already part of the national School Feeding programme.
Currently, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture is giving a nutritious mid-morning maize blend to some 330,000 pre-primary and primary school learners throughout the country.This is about to change for the better after the Ministry of Education developed an ambitious National School Feeding draft policy with technical assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP). 

 The ministry is looking at sourcing much of the food for schools from local producers. It is anticipated that the shift to buying locally as outlined in the draft school feeding policy will stimulate a stable demand for food at the local level and  also encourage the production of a variety of foods needed to diversify the school diet.

The policy recognises that investing in Namibia’s future is not a task for the government alone, but also demands the involvement of other actors such as local food producers, the private sector, local communities and civil society.

Happy to be eating with friends at school: Some of the learners at a school in Windhoek enjoy their maize meal during a mid-morning break. The Government of Namibia is planning to diversify the school meals to also include other foods such as vegetables and the traditional Mahangu porridge (millet meal). Photo: WFP

Anna Nghipondoka, Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Education, says that expansion of the School Feeding programme will help address a number of challenges.

“These include high repetition and drop-out rates in primary schools. Expanding the meals to secondary schools will also help boost the enrolment rate, which is currently at less than 60 percent,” says Nghipondoka.  “School meals act as an incentive for learners to remain in school and that’s important during this difficult time of drought.”
WFP Representative in Namibia Jennifer Bitonde says where hunger is a problem school meals can improve learners’ health and nutrition.  
“In Namibia, the School Feeding programme provides multiple benefits such as improving learners’ performance in class and contributes to government efforts towards ending hunger,” says Bitonde. “WFP will continue providing technical assistance to the government to build upon accomplishments realised over the years.” 

Namibia is one of the few countries in southern Africa that has transitioned its School Feeding programme from being reliant on external funding to a sustainable model that is fully funded and managed by the government. The education authorities of a number of countries including Nigeria have visited Namibia to find out how this has been achieved. 


Amid worsening hunger triggered by the effects of El Niño-related drought, Namibia is investing in the expansion of its National School Feeding programme to ensure more learners receive nutritious meals and stay in school. 

11/15/2016 - 16:37

Syrian mother Um Abdullah shares with us a simple, nourishing dish, as part of our series exploring the tastes of home of refugees and displaced families supported by the World Food Programme.

11/08/2016 - 12:06
Food For Assets

Isaura Luis, her husband, and their two children live in a semi-arid district called Marara. They were not a typically food insecure household. They were not facing hunger until the end of last year when their crops were ruined by drought.

Of the six provinces hit by drought in the second half of 2015, Tete has had the highest number of people affected. A recent assessment conducted by the National Secretariat of Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN), carried out in late July, reported that 1.4 million people are in need of assistance in the country, and Tete accounts for 22 percent of them.

With no alternative work, Isaura (22) signed up to WFP’s Food For Assets (FFA) programme. It assists food-insecure families while providing opportunities for work paid in food, cash or vouchers. 

In partnership with the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), small-holder farmers’ association ACEAGRARIOS, local authorities and community leaders, WFP identified people in need of assistance. Priority was given to female-headed households, disabled people, elderly people and households containing chronically ill members and orphans. 

“I’m working in the seed multiplication field’’, says Isaura. “I’m looking after the irrigation so the plants will germinate. The plants will then be distributed to the schools and for the people in the community.”

Seed multiplication is part of a larger government initiative started in 2010. Known as ‘One Pupil, One Seedling, One Community Leader, One Forest’, the scheme is designed to create community forests countrywide. Under this scheme, each pupil plants at least one tree per year in a school garden or in their backyard at home.

Isaura’s husband, a smallholder farmer, takes care of their children when she is irrigating seedlings by the weir over the Cachembe River in neighbouring Cachembe village. Isaura works also in the ACEAGRARIOS farm beside the Cachembe River. 

The food assistance she receives means that Isaura and her family do not have to migrate in search of work. It also means they don’t have to sell household assets to get money for food. 

By the end of this year, WFP expects to have assisted nearly half a million people through Food for Assets and general food distribution programmes supported by contributions from Australia, Japan and the United States. 

Isaura Luis and her family lost all their crops due to drought in Tete province at the end of last year. They were among the large numbers of smallholder farmers who suffered crop loss across Mozambique and who have had to rely on food assistance since then. With the rainy season now started, they and other families are hoping for more luck this time around. 

11/04/2016 - 12:01
Cash and Vouchers

“With the war, I lost everything and I had to cross the Ubangi River with my wife and seven children to seek refuge and security in the DRC,” he says. “Upon arrival at the camp, humanitarian organizations fed us, gave us shelter and we could wash… without having to pay for anything. I did not expect such goodwill. I gradually realized that I could live in this camp thanks to the solidarity of invisible people." 

These “invisible people” to whom he refers include the people of the United States which funds WFP’s emergency operations for CAR refugees in the DRC. In Inke camp, WFP assists 17,000 refugees with food vouchers, amounting to $ 17 per person. Each month, they use these vouchers to buy food at WFP-organized food fairs. 

On the outskirts of the camp, Samba Ndiaye is working with some fellow refugees  among tomato plants and cassava in a large vegetable garden next to a pond. "Becoming a refugee is a paradoxical experience,” he says. “You experience a real disruption in your life. But it also forces you to become resourceful and determined. Although I didn’t know anything about agriculture, I decided to start planting my own vegetables with seeds I received from the Agency for Social and Economic Development (Agence de Développement Economique et Social or ADES)”. 

With this support, Samba and other refugees are now growing fruits and vegetables (gumbo, moringa, chili, onions, salads and papaya) and together cultivate an area larger than a football field. Despite the sandy terrain, they are harvesting produce that gives their families varied and balanced meals. Surpluses are sold to other refugees which makes Samba happy because his own project also benefits the entire community. Other surplus is sold at the market in Gbadolite, a nearby town. "I was able to start farming thanks to WFP food fairs that protect us from hunger. Once you eat, you can work - you see, I believe that refugees have duties as well as rights." 
In the camp, some call Samba "the wizard" yet his achievements are mainly due to his tireless work and positive attitude. "As refugees, we end up in a situation we haven’t chosen,” he says. “Yet we have to accept it, rather than constantly cursing events. I can say that I learned a lot of things in my misfortune, and that will be very helpful for me when I go back home, Insh' Allah”.

Samba Ndiaye has become a farmer following his arrival to the Inke refugee camp in north of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He fled his country, the Central African Republic, due to violence and armed conflict that ensued in the wake of clashes between Seleka and anti-Balaka militias. 

11/01/2016 - 15:41

The West Nile region of northern Uganda is known for its tall teak trees.  In the Alere section of the Adjumani refugee settlement many of them were planted by South Sudanese refugees explains 28 year old Abiar Keech Bior.  Like so many, Abiar fled her home in Jonglei state South Sudan to escape violent raids in which men came and took away young children, stole cattle and set homes on fire.  

Having lived in the refugee settlement since 2013, Abiar and her family are some of the 65,000 refugees countrywide now given the option to receive a monthly cash allocation instead of their general food ration from WFP.  

“I’m very happy that WFP has given us a cash option. We get to buy Azam flour, a type that we like,” she said with a smile as she walks back from collecting her monthly cash allocation of UGX 196,000 or the equivalent of US$57.6.  “We don’t have to spend money transporting the food as money is light to carry. We also don’t have to grind the food we receive as we can buy milled cereal. Later this afternoon, I will go to shop in Adjumani town. I will stock up on Azam, cooking oil, beans, onions and sugar,” she added.  

Managing the Money

In 2014 WFP started offering a choice between food and cash for refugees who have been in the country longer in settlements where the surrounding markets are functional. At each distribution, WFP partners sensitize the refugees on the types of food they ought to buy with their money and how to make a budget to plan their expenditure.

Abiar is careful with her family’s monthly allowance and supplements the support from WFP by growing vegetables around her homestead, off land provided by the Uganda Government, and sells them in the market. This enables her to buy other types of food, such as meat, fish, more vegetables and milk, which her mother likes. She has no other source of income.

“Meat is expensive,” Abiar said.  “I only buy it about twice a month if I get some money from my market business. I don’t use the WFP money for buying meat.  I use it only for the key food items.”

Increasing the Impact

Cash is a more flexible and appreciated form of assistance among refugees as it gives them the ability to decide for themselves what they eat.  Cash transfers are also more economical for WFP to deliver and the benefits of WFP’s operation are extended to the local community by stimulating local trade through increased demand for locally produced food.

As such, WFP, the UNHCR and the Government of Uganda have agreed to expand WFP cash transfers. By March 2017, 200,000 refugees in Uganda will receive their food assistance in the form of cash. In three of the eight settlements where WFP provides both food and cash assistance, refugees will move completely to cash-based support by the end of 2016. In the remaining five settlements, refugees which arrived as recently as June 2016 and extremely vulnerable individuals will be given then choice between receiving cash or food.  

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) has prioritized cash distributions within its 2016 contribution to WFP. Other donors to the cash transfer programme in 2016 are Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and United States of America.  




Since 2013 nearly 560,000 South Sudanese refugees have sought safety in Uganda and WFP has assisted them by providing monthly general food rations to meet their basic food needs. Recently the WFP has introduced a cash programme, giving people the option to choose a cash allowance instead of food, providing them with the opportunity to decide for themselves what they eat.

10/31/2016 - 10:55
Climate Change

Elisabeth Ntakarutimana is one of the 55 community members in Rushanga district who received training on how to make and use fuel efficient stoves.  She is full of praise for the project which was initiated by WFP some months ago in her community.

“You cannot imagine how happy I am. Cooking in the traditional way was difficult for us because of the heavy smoke,” she says with a broad smile. 

This mother of six is ​​stunned by the small amount of firewood she uses and how quick the food is cooked.

"Now my four children are not late at school because the food is always ready on time; the project is really a pride of Rushanga," she adds.


Double Duty

Cooking fuel needs in Burundi are primarily met by firewood used on a traditional 3-stone open fire which can cause serious health problems as a result of inhaling toxic smoke.  The fuel-efficient stoves are made of clay mixed with sand and rice husks and use briquettes instead of wood,  saving 40-45% of wood compared to the three-stone fire.

The initiative is part of a broader SAFE (Safe Access to Fuel and Energy) project supported by WFP in Burundi, whose success relies on an innovative combination of energy-related and income-generating activities addressing various challenges linked to the access of cooking fuel. These include nutrition, livelihoods, health, gender and environmental.  Vulnerable populations often undercook or sell food just to buy or save on firewood, jeopardising their nutrition.   Collecting firewood for cooking is not only a burdensome task for vulnerable women, it also has an adverse impact on the environment.  

The pilot phase is covering 3,000 households in Gitega province, and WFP and partners plan to scale-up this initiative to reach 10,000 rural households by 2019 to meet their energy needs.

In Gitega province, central Burundi, WFP is supporting the making and use of fuel efficient stoves by the rural community. The pilot project is funded by the German Government and has been welcomed by the people in Rushanga district.

10/18/2016 - 15:02

In response to the county’s distress call, the World Food Programme provided displaced families with two months’ supply of food, courtesy of a donation from the Government of Japan. Six months on families  living in the Tana Delta were still rebuilding their lives following devastating spells of flooding. To date, empty makeshift camps still dot many town centres, a constant reminder of the widespread displacement.

Even though Tana River did not receive excessive rains, the heavy downfall in the highlands caused the river to burst its banks, inundating fields and villages. Close to 50 makeshift camps sprung up across the delta at the height of El Niño rains late last year.

The rains finally eased at the beginning of the year and by late March, farmers had started preparing to plant. However, just a month later they were affected by flooding once again when the electricity-generating dams along the Tana River discharged excess water that had built up due to the heavy rains in the highlands. The few who had returned to their homes were forced to flee again.

By the time we returned to Tana River in June, the people had begun returning to their villages once again.

“We are following the receding water with hoes and seeds. As soon as a section of the farm dries up, we put the seeds into the ground,” said Fatuma Hassan, a young mother of two living in Miyesa village, Tana Delta sub-county.

“I have moved back to my house and we are planting afresh, but many farms are still waterlogged,” she said. “Some of my neighbours have erected makeshift shelters in the village because the houses are still flooded.”

Timely assistance

“The assistance that was provided through the Government of Japan was not only timely, but was also adequate,” said Mike Kimoko, the Deputy County Commissioner, Tana Delta. “However, the same people that we assisted then have faced yet another flooding disaster.”

Khalif Noor Kediye was among those still living in temporary camps as late as the end of June.

“We got food twice during the El Niño flooding. Soon after returning to our homes in Bulla Rhama village, a second wave of flooding displaced us” said Khalif. “If we hadn’t received the food, we would have faced immense hunger. But even now, we are in need. We are now selling livestock in order to buy flour,” he added.

The People of Japan

The Government of Japan gave WFP US$ 300,000 which was used to buy cereals and pulses from the local markets. Through the support of USAID, WFP also distributed vegetable oil to complete the food basket.

“I’m happy meeting and interacting with so many of you whose lives were directly touched by assistance from the people of Japan,” said Yo Ito, the First Secretary in charge of UN affairs at the Embassy of Japan in Nairobi, in a recent visit to Tana Delta.

“I will convey your gratitude to my government and also your pleas for more assistance,” said Yo.

Village after village, the communities expressed gratitude to the people of Japan for coming to their aid at the time of need.

“We had completely run out of food. Your support was critical. Today, we are happy to see the people who helped us,” said Badula Dhidha, a farmer in Kitere village in Tana Delta sub-county.

Perennial problem

Tana Delta is home to about 100,000 people, most of whom farm along Kenya’s longest river, the Tana River.

“Every year, our people are displaced by flooding. We want to find a long-lasting solution to this menace,” said Mike Kimoko, Deputy County Commissioner, Tana Delta.

Until a solution is found, the people will continue living and farming perilously close to the river banks.

“Our lives depend on the farms,” explained Badula Dhidha. “We cannot move away from our only source of food.”

During the 2015 short rains season, Kenya received greater than usual amounts of rains, owing to the El Niño weather phenomenon. While these rains greatly improved pasture and rejuvenated water sources in the livestock farming zones, they caused rivers to swell and breach banks, leading to widespread flooding in the lowlands. Tana River County was one of the coastal regions badly affected. Rains in the highlands, the source of Tana River, caused heavy flooding downstream, destroying crops and property.

10/17/2016 - 17:00

Mohammed spent a year and a half living under the so-called Islamic State (IS) rule after they captured his home city of Ramadi, Iraq, more than two years ago. Finally managing to flee early last year, Mohammed and his family survived on food from the World Food Programme. Now, he is helping WFP prepare to support those who may be forced to flee the city of Mosul, as a military operation begins. Read Mohammed’s story.

10/13/2016 - 11:01
Students And Teachers

JUBA – When fighting erupted in July 2016, Christina Adam, a 12-year old orphan, was at home with her grandmother in the Gudele neighbourhood in the west of the South Sudanese capital Juba. As clashes became intense Christina’s grandmother decided that they join others who were fleeing the area.

“We started running. We were seeing a lot of guns,” Christina recalled. “I was not afraid. I prayed to God and said no gun will shoot me,” she added. 

Christina and her grandmother found shelter at a church in Gurei, a neighbourhood further west of Juba. There were hundreds of other people who had gathered there for safety as the guns continued crackling and bangs from explosions filled the air. The fighting in Juba lasted only a few days but conditions at the temporary displacement site were tough. 

“When we were in hiding we ate only once every other day. One day we would eat rice, the next day we would just drink water and sleep,” Christina explained.

Once fighting subsided and a ceasefire declared, her grandmother decided that they should return home but new challenges emerged. Shops and markets were closed and it was hard for the family to find food. Christina’s grandmother asked her to go and check if her school, the Straight Link Centre where she received daily school meals provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), had reopened. WFP provides cooked meals or take-home rations to encourage children, especially girls, to consistently attend classes in South Sudan. These school meals are often the only meal a child will receive that day.

Seeking Shelter

The school, which supports hundreds of orphans, former street children and kids who are unable to locate their parents since civil conflict started in South Sudan in December 2013, was also affected by the recent fighting in July. Classes stopped and many of the children fled. The school was damaged as residents of the surrounding area began pulling down the wooden walls and roof to use as firewood for cooking.

Moses Primo, Christina’s classmate, who lives at the school was among the children who quickly gathered in a mud and brick church located on the compound, when fighting erupted. As fighting intensified, Moses and others later fled to other parts of Juba and even beyond the city when a military helicopter hovered around the area aiming shots at targets in the distance. 

“We ran when the aeroplane [helicopter] started shooting the bullets from the sky,” said Moses, who doesn’t know his exact age. “The guns from the aeroplane [helicopter] shooting and hanging in the air were loud. Then we saw that all the people were running away and we also ran.” 

Moses and some of his friends later sought refuge at the Church in Gurei where Christina was staying with her grandmother. But just a few days later he left the shelter and headed back to the Centre because he was hungry. 

“The food from WFP, it is a gift”

Moses, Christina and hundreds of other children who returned to the school in hopes of receiving food and continuing their studies were partially disappointed. The teachers had come back and classes slowly restarted but there was no food for the school meals. The main WFP warehouse in Juba had been looted in the aftermath of the fighting of all of the 4,600 metric tons of food it contained - food that could feed up to 220,000 people in a month. It was impossible for WFP to resupply the school for the rest of the month of July. 

“We didn’t have anything that we could give [the students],” Patrick Lopok, the Chairman of the Straight Link Centre Orphanage School said. “But later, we thank God that the World Food Programme was able to run very fast to put us as the first priority.”

The return of school meals has been a great relief to the children in a context of hyperinflation, high food prices and increasing levels of hunger in Juba and the rest of South Sudan. 

“Now I eat food every day at school,” Christina said. “I can stay long at school and write my exams.”

“The food from WFP, it is a gift,” Moses added. 

However, not everybody has returned to school. Prior to the outbreak of fighting the enrolment stood at 1,050 pupils. This has dropped by 30 percent to 720 pupils since the July fighting, with the majority of those who have returned being girls (520). The school authorities say many boys have taken casual jobs such as polishing shoes or collecting used plastic bottles for sale in order to earn money. 

“The boys have gone back to the street. With this war some of the parents are sending the boys to look for food,” Lopok said. “They were forced because their parents can’t provide the basics so they do the work that their parents cannot do in order to provide food for the family,” he added. 

School meals provide an important social safety net, encouraging parents to enroll their children and helping to keep them there, while ensuring basic nutrition for child learning and development. In South Sudan, WFP has so far provided daily school meals to more than 160,000 children this year with support from donors including the United States, Norway, and private donors. 

Conflict and a severe economic crisis are causing increased levels of hunger among residents of urban areas in South Sudan.  School meals provided by the World Food Programme (WFP) have become the only assured source of food for many children in Juba, the country’s capital.