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08/26/2016 - 12:30
Preventing Hunger

Photo: WFP/Olivia Acland


Usman Kanu sits on the porch of his new house flanked by his wife and young son. "I began building this place last November," he says, "with the money that I saved from two harvests." He gets up and starts to walk around the house, proudly explaining which of the unfinished rooms is to become the bedroom and which will be the kitchen.

"Farming has been very good lately," he explains. "I used to grow just enough rice for myself and my family to eat, but now I harvest a lot. I can keep some and sell the rest at the market." In the last two years Usman's yield has doubled, largely thanks to his successful participation in a WFP project. The four-year scheme, known as the Japanese Bilateral Project, teaches farmers to better exploit the arable, swampy land around their villages. Over 75 percent of the country's rural population relies on farming as its primary livelihood. WFP is supporting these farmers to increase their rice production, which is a vital step towards improving food security in Sierra Leone.  

Photo: WFP/Olivia Acland

Planting less and growing more

Usman now uses just 5 kg of seeds to grow 8 bags of rice (weighing 800 kg), whereas previously 25 kg of seeds would produce half this yield.

Before the project was implemented in Masimera and Buya Romende, the two chiefdoms averaged 1 metric ton per hectare (ha). In 2014, after farmers received training, productivity surged by 86 percent. During the second harvest in 2015, the farmers increased production by 40 percent to cultivate 2.6 mt/ha. Area Agriculture Coordinator Amadu Bangura says: "This year we're hoping to see even more of an increase."

The marked improvements come as a result of monthly training that has shown the farmers how to better cultivate their crops. They learned to rehabilitate fertile land previously left wasted and unfarmed, with the ground split into manageable 0.2 ha holdings for each family. Beforehand farmers were just scattering seeds at random, meaning the crops would grow on top of each other and choke. Now they have been taught to first prepare the nursery beds and then plant in neat rows, allowing each crop a space of 20 cm by 25 cm.

Photo: WFP/Olivia Acland

Each of the project’s 530 beneficiaries was given 6 kg of seeds and 60 kg of fertilizer to get started. The farmers were taught how to apply the fertilizer, and the optimal time of year to harvest their crop. Before the training, many farmers were waiting too late into the season when the grains were overly dry and had already started to fall off. As Bangura says: "The problem was that people simply did not know how to get the most out of their land."

Saving the profits

A large metal box with four padlocks clapped onto it has come to represent Mayombo village's first ever community bank. As well as helping the farmers and their families to produce more crops, the scheme also encourages them to manage profits from their harvest.

Each family puts aside between 2,000 (USD 0.36) and 10,000 (USD 1.82) Leones a week and receives a stamp confirming the contribution in its log book. In this way the community not only saves but also has enough money to give out small loans to those who need them.

"Being able to take a loan from this box is empowering and good for business," says WFP Programme Assistant Akinyemi Scott-Boyle. "If they have access to this money they'll be able to easily buy fertilizer for the next harvest and pay it back once the profits come in."

So far a group of 50 farming families has managed to save 21,000,000 Leones (USD 3,817.54) in just ten months. In a country where the average yearly wage is estimated at USD 340, this is no small feat.

Photo: WFP/Olivia Acland

Helping Sierra Leone to become self sufficient

Sierra Leone – which was once the biggest exporter of rice in West Africa – now doesn't produce enough to feed its people all year round. The country has very good conditions for growing rice, yet spends between USD 200m and USD 300m a year importing the commodity, mainly from Asia. Both the civil war and the Ebola virus had very damaging effects on the agricultural sector, and now great stretches of arable land are left unused.

The project's long-term aim is to boost rice production within the country, so that less people have to rely on expensive imports. By the time the project finishes in 2017 these rural families should be in a far stronger position to not only feed themselves, but also to sell their surplus rice in local markets. By helping farmers to minimize costs and increase their yields, WFP is supporting Sierra Leone in boosting in-country rice production. 

Usman heads down to his holding, where thousands of bright green shoots poke out of swampy, wet land. "I really never knew that so few seeds could produce this much," he says, happily surveying his crop.

Photo: WFP/Olivia Acland

Usman Kanu is a rice farmer from the Masimera chiefdom in Sierra Leone. Thanks to his participation in WFP's rice farming project he has doubled his yields in the last two harvests and has been able to build himself a house from the profits. The project – funded by the Government of Japan – provides rural families with the tools and techniques to better cultivate the land around their villages. Rice production in the whole area has shot up by 186 percent, making Usman's experience just one of many success stories. As harvest season approaches this year, farmers are hoping for even better results. 

08/17/2016 - 09:55

As a programme associate  in Yemen for the World Food Programme, Abeer Noman has survived airstrikes, evacuated staff and made sure her own family is safe. In the lead up to this year’s World Humanitarian Day, we’re sharing stories that celebrate the spirit of humanitarianism. This is Abeer’s story.

08/16/2016 - 15:14

Hafiza Khan knows first-hand what it’s like to experience the aftermath of a super cyclone. To mark World Humanitarian Day on 19 August, Hafiza and other World Food Programme team members are sharing their stories about working in their own countries to help end hunger. 

08/16/2016 - 14:00
Centre of Excellence Against Hunger

1) Brazil has made enormous improvements in nutrition in recent decades thanks to the mobilization of civil society, the allocation of resources to nutrition, and political commitment followed by action.

2) Stunting rates declined from 19 percent in 1989 to 7 percent in 2007, and wasting rates are very low at 2 percent. 

3) In 2010 Brazil included the human right to food in its constitution, one of only three countries in the world to do so. The law dictates freedom from hunger and malnutrition, and access to adequate and healthy food. 

4) Exclusive breastfeeding of infants under 6 months underwent a remarkable improvement from 2 percent in 1986 to 39 percent in 2006.  

5) Despite strong industry resistance, in 2015 Brazil managed to enforce a law regulating the marketing of breast milk substitutes.

6) Not all transitions have been for the better. Adult overweight and obesity are high at 54 percent and 20 percent respectively, and numbers are rising. 

7) Despite recent improvements in income distribution, poverty remains widespread, and food and nutrition insecurity remains a problem in some communities.  

8) Students in Brazilian public schools receive at least one meal per day as part of the National School Feeding Programme. Since 2009, a minimum of 30 percent of the programme’s food must be purchased from smallholder farmers, which supports farmers and increases access to fresh, nutritious food.

9) In 2014 Brazil issued ground-breaking dietary guidelines encouraging people to avoid ultra-processed products, cook whole foods at home, and to eat in company to increase enjoyment of food.

10) Since 2011 Brazil has been home to the Centre of Excellence against Hunger, a joint initiative between the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Brazilian Government. The Centre helps developing countries draw on Brazil’s experience in reducing malnutrition.


Sources: Global Nutrition ReportFood Security Portal

Learn more about hunger and malnutrition from WFP's comprehensive list of Facts About Food and Nutrition.

Over the past decades, Brazil has made sustained efforts to reduce malnutrition, and its commitment has paid off. While all eyes are on the country for the Rio 2016 Summer Games, we look at ten things to know about food and nutrition. 

08/16/2016 - 09:32

Besher, a driver for the World Food Programme in Syria, shares his story of working behind the wheel. It’s part of a series of local staff stories to mark World Humanitarian Day 2016.

08/12/2016 - 11:01

Being a humanitarian in Afghanistan isn’t an easy job, especially for a woman. Wahida Azizi shares her story about working to end hunger in her country, the third in our series featuring WFP workers in the countdown to World Humanitarian Day. 

08/11/2016 - 11:41

Read Momoh's story here.

Stay tuned as we introduce you to more humanitarian workers in the countdown to World Humanitarian Day. 

To mark World Humanitarian Day on 19 August, eight team members from the World Food Programme share their stories about working in their own countries to help end hunger. This is Momoh’s story from Sierra Leone.

08/11/2016 - 09:50

Women leading change

Driving down the historic Dar-ul-aman road, the remnants of King Amanullah’s Palace serve as a stark reminder of the days of war and instability in Kabul. Continue a little further and you will see an 80-acre expanse where 100 women are managing a farm through WFPs asset creation support in a partnership with UNDP and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livelihood (MAIL). What makes this farm special is not just its location, but also the fact that it is Afghanistan’s first female-managed organic farm.  

Dar-ul-aman palace provides an impressive backdrop but for women like Nooria, the crops she can produce have a far greater impact © WFP/Fezeh Hosseini

As part of this six-month project which started in April 2016, 100 vulnerable women are being trained in various income generating skills such as vegetable cultivation, food processing and using new agricultural technology, enabling them to produce and package their vegetables for the market. These skills will help them earn money, feed their families and increase their self-sufficiency. 

Everyone has a story

The women involved all have a unique story to tell, whether they are the main breadwinners in their families, women who have returned after being displaced by conflict, or indeed those who are still away from their homes due to ongoing conflict.

Nooria, 45, says her main motivation to work on the farm is to put her five daughters through school. She has lived in a rental house in Kabul since she left her home in Logar province. “I have to wait another two months for the harvest so I can process and sell the vegetables in the market,” says Nooria. “It is a long time to wait but it makes me happy when I think about the money that I will earn at the end.”

Nooria receives her food ration for working on the farm © WFP/Fezeh Hosseini

Throughout the course of the project the women receive food assistance from WFP, which includes a monthly supply of 83 kilos of food including fortified wheat flour, pulses, fortified vegetable oil, and iodized salt. The project also provided employment for 240 men, who spent a month clearing the land for cultivation.

Building capacity  

MAIL provides technical support and farming land, while WFP and UNDP jointly implement the project through the local Women Agriculture Producers Group. This partnership not only empowers women at community level but also develops the capacity of the local trainers who help Afghan women learn marketable skills.

“I grew onions, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and radishes on the plot of land allocated for me, and it is so green now! I would not have thought it was possible,” says Zubaida, a 40-year-old mother of five. Her husband is ill so she has to earn money to look after her family.     
Originally from the Laal-o-SareJangal district of Ghor province, Zubaida and her family were forced to move to Kabul due to insecurity and unemployment seven years ago. She walks a long way every morning and evening to get to the farm. On top of her work in the farm, she produces tomato paste – an essential for Afghan cooking – to sell in the market or to her neighbours.

Zubaida works full time to produce quality vegetables for selling in the market © WFP/Fezeh Hosseini

Ensuring sustainability

To ensure the sustainability of the project until 2017, beneficiaries will also receive business management training and machinery to process and pack the food products and sell them on national and international markets. Pending a positive evaluation of the project, the Afghan government is considering extending it for another three years. 
WFPs assets creation support aims to mitigate the impact of natural disasters, build and strengthen the resilience of communities to shocks, and restore people’s livelihoods by increasing the overall productivity of soil, and upgrading irrigation systems to improve agricultural infrastructure.

Story and pictures © WFP/Fezeh Hosseini

Through a farming project in Afghanistan, 100 vulnerable women are learning income generating skills and business management including vegetable cultivation, food processing and using new agricultural technology, enabling them to produce and package their vegetables for the market. 

08/10/2016 - 23:37
Focus on Women

WFP has teamed up with the national government, Fundación Éxito, and the Milk League to raise awareness about the importance of child nutrition during the first 1,000 days –including breastfeeding—and the next steps Colombia should take to eradicate chronic malnutrition.

In parts of rural Colombia access to nutritious food can be scarce. Lack of readily available healthy foods is affecting the health and nutrition of many Colombian families. This is particularly worrisome for pregnant mothers as hunger starts in the womb. Malnutrition in the first 1,000 days can lead to irreversible damage to minds and bodies. 

[quote|"The first 1,000 days, including the nine months of pregnancy and the first 2 years of life, are key to achieving SDG 2. But to achieve SDG 2, we must strengthen families, communities, and livelihoods, especially in rural and ethnic communities." -Deborah Hines, WFP Representative in Colombia.]WFP’s alliance with the government, Fundación Éxito, and the Milk League makes an urgent call to increase the number of breastfeeding mothers in Colombia as a strategy to improve health, growth and development of children and as a way to help reduce child mortality associated with malnutrition. "During this time, the structures and nerve pathways of the brain are formed and they further improve according to their functions. This process is favored by an adequate nutrition, mainly based on breastfeeding.” affirmed Germán Jaramillo, Director of the Fundación Éxito.

Currently many Colombian mothers stop breastfeeding after 1.8 months whereas WHO recommends breastfeeding for at least six months and up to two years as complementary feeding. In some places in Colombia mothers stop breastfeeding before the first month.

WFP makes it a priority to nourish children through the whole life cycle, investing in the next generation for a world with zero hunger.

During the month of August special importance is given to increase knowledge about the benefits of breastfeeding. In Colombia this month has also been deemed the month for childhood nutrition.

08/10/2016 - 19:51

Photo: WFP/staff

Food distributions entail a daily ration of cereals, pulses, oil, vitamin and mineral enriched corn and soya flour, salt, or vouchers that families can use to buy the food listed above.

WFP seeks to provide assistance to the most vulnerable amongst those vulnerable, including people suffering from a disability or single-headed households.

Photo: IEDA Relief/Staff

Take Oumou (pictured below), a mother of four living in the region of Timbuktu, who lost an arm. She has received WFP food assistance since 2015 in the form of vouchers and she told members of the International Emergency and Development Aid (IEDA) Relief−an NGO partner assisting WFP to distribute food in Timbuktu−how this assistance has been helping her make ends meet.  

Photo: IEDA Relief/Staff

“Before receiving food assistance,” said Oumou, “it was extremely difficult to feed my family, even once a day.” Unable to participate in revenue creating activities, Oumou did all she could to feed her four children, but she has been faced with insurmountable hurdles.

These hurdles no longer exist for Oumou. With the vouchers, she can go to local markets to purchase food for her family and support the local economy at the same time.

Photo: IEDA Relief/Staff

Agasmane (pictured above), a 65-year-old man from Timbuktu region has been is paralyzed from the waist down. His situation makes the already difficult lean season that much more difficult for his family, including three children. And so, like Oumou, Agasmane has been receiving WFP food assistance since January 2015. Since receiving this assistance, Agasmane’s family can eat three times a day, even during the lean season, he says.

Photo: WFP/staff

Examples like Oumou and Agasmane show that with the support of our donors−particularly USAID, Canada, European Union/United Kingdom, Japan, United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN CERF) and Switzerland−even the most vulnerable of populations can get adequate, nutritious food in the toughest period, enabling Mali to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2−to reach Zero Hunger−one person at a time.

Photo: WFP/Staff 

Note: In 2015, WFP began a three-year relief and recovery operation in Mali to address the immediate food security and nutrition needs of an average of  1.1 million vulnerable people per year. WFP plans to support 1.3 million vulnerable people in 2016. Activities include providing emergency food, supporting the creation and rehabilitation of livelihood assets, preventing and treating malnutrition, and school feeding which aims to improve access to education. 

Photo: WFP/staff

Text: Laura Morris, WFP Mali. 



In Mali and throughout the Sahel, the lean season−a planting period from June to September when food from the previous harvest runs out−places serious stress on families. Many struggle to feed their families, at times taking extreme measures to put food on the table. During the current lean season, nearly 30 percent of the population struggles to have enough food to eat. To help families better cope during this season, WFP provides large-scale food distributions in four regions in northern Mali.