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09/18/2014 - 08:47

Starting in October, the size of the Syria food parcel will be reduced and in neighbouring countries the number of refugees receiving food or vouchers will be scaled back.

Reached Record Amount Of People

It is a cruel irony that in recent weeks WFP has had better access inside Syria that has enabled us to reach a record 4.17 million people (in August), including those in hard-to-reach areas. But just as we have the potential to scale up, the cupboard is bare, and unless we receive new contributions we will be unable to provide people with desperately needed food.

Impact Of The Cutbacks

We asked Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, who have been receiving monthly food assistance from the World Food Programme, one question:

“What if you suddenly stopped receiving your monthly food voucher?”

Here’s what they had to say:


More Funding Needed

WFP requires US$352 million for its operations as a whole until the end of the year, including US$95 million for its work inside Syria and US$257 million to support refugees in neighbouring countries.

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How You Can Help



WFP is running out of funds for its operations in Syria and neighbouring countries and we have reached a critical point where drastic cutbacks are unavoidable. 

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 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, 4-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 Sept. 8, 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.   

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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.

09/16/2014 - 10:52

BANGUI: The storm hit shortly before 5 a.m. It started with loud thunder, then the banging of heavy rain on tin roofs. And believe me, when I write "heavy rain", I mean it.

In a matter of minutes, the streets in the city centre were flooded. At 7 a.m., the usually crowded city centre was empty, except for a few taxis that had failed to negotiate their way around the potholes and had subsequently fallen in them and flooded their engines. 
The water evacuation canals, currently in the process of being unclogged and repaired, were overflowing. The whole city was waiting for the storm to pass before the working day could start.
I was sitting in the car, going to the office. And then I saw him. The boy must have been no more than 10. He was standing there in the street, soaked, shivering in a ripped T-shirt, trying to catch the attention of any driver who would give him small change.

I have carried his smile with me ever since. The sad smile of a child whose name I do not know and of whom, in fact, I know nothing. People here in Bangui have various reactions when it comes to these street children, who appear more and more these days, running around in crowds on the main street. Some pity them: "Those poor kids are orphans," they say. Others just consider them as lost, undisciplined children: "Their mother has carried them in her womb during nine months for nothing," someone told me.

Well, I do not know. What I DO realize, living here, is that the C.A.R. crisis story is far from over. I have settled into a kind of routine, getting used to changing my plans constantly because of security issues. It has become perfectly normal for me to rush to buy food or go to the bank when the situation gets tense, just in case things turn worse.

Security is not the point, though. Of course it matters. Of course, when security improves, we -- the aid workers -- will be able to do more and better. Because there is so much to do.

Security matters in the emergency of the moment. But let us never forget that the Central African Republic was one of the poorest countries in the world before the crisis hit. This may be one of the reasons why it hit so hard. But this is also the reason why it will be difficult to overcome.

In Bangui, the company that provides electricity has to plan carefully. Where I live, the power goes off at about 5 p.m. and comes back sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight. Other neighbourhoods are cut from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. And there is no hope of things getting better in the near future, since the power station is so deteriorated. There have been no gas bottles in town for weeks – a problem with the supply route from Cameroon. 

These are only a few examples. And Bangui is the capital. Elsewhere in the country, many towns are simply without electricity at all.

Even when the violence stops, which may or may not happen, we the aid workers have to tell the world not to forget the people of the Central African Republic. Because they‘ll need help for a long time.

If the worlds forgets, there’ll be many more homeless kids shivering in the rain, with an easy way out of starvation: grab a weapon and go to war. 
—Donaig Le Du
(Sept. 9, 2014)

While violence and displacement of people remain the daily routine, WFP’s Communications Officer in Bangui, Donaig Le Du, shares her impressions from the field. Here's the fifth part of her series of blogs from C.A.R.

09/16/2014 - 10:32
Food Security Analysis

Well, first of all the so-called SOFI report does show progress. There’s a decline of more than 100 million in the ranks of the hungry over the last decade. That’s slightly more people than the population of the Philippines. If you go back to 1990–92,  it’s progress of 209 million – a bit more than the population of Brazil.

So that’s substantial. However, if you put it next to the target the world set itself in the Millennium Development Goals, it’s not quite enough. The MDG on hunger, agreed by world leaders in 2000, is to halve the proportion of undernourished people in the world by the end of 2015. 

Since the benchmark year of 1990, the proportion of hungry people in developing regions has dropped from 23.4 percent to 13.5 percent, just short of the 11.7 percent target. If current trends continue, it could fall a bit further -- to 12.8 percent  -- by next year. But it's still not quite enough to meet the goal.

It’s clear then that the rate of reduction needs to be accelerated. And with less than 500 days to go until the deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals, something needs to shift, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern and Western Asia. 

What it boils down to is that ending hunger has to be placed firmly at the centre of the political agenda. Just as a side note, this is one reason why WFP is organising an event at the UN General Assembly next week: to focus attention on the Zero Hunger Challenge – the drive launched by the Secretary General to unite governments, private sector, communities and individuals behind the fight to eradicate hunger.

OK, you might say, so if the world were to commit to those extra efforts to hit the MDG target, what exactly would need to be done?

The actions needed include investments to boost food production and to improve social safety nets to lift people out of extreme poverty. In almost all cases, what’s needed are integrated strategies – in other words, we need to fit our various hunger-fighting programmes together so they support each other.

An example of this from the WFP world is when we get free school meal programmes to buy food from smallholder farmers. This helps to raise those producers’ incomes and stimulates the local supply of more-nutritious foods. The school meals help to keep children in school (a good thing in itself) while ensuring that they get at least one nutritous meal every day.

Of course, the elephant in the room in all of this is war. Conflict is a major driver of hunger and it’s no coincidence that four of WFP’s biggest food assistance operations at present are in countries wracked by conflict - Syria, Iraq, CAR and South Sudan. Here too, real political will is needed. Because if fighting stopped, agriculture and trade could resume, people could return to work, food would be more-accessible to more people.  And there would undoubtedly be a reduction in the number of hungry people. 

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OK, so the UN has produced a new report on hunger and says there are now 805 million hungry people in the world. What does that mean? Is it good? Is it bad?

09/15/2014 - 07:23
Purchase for Progress

KABUL -- Two years ago, WFP spotted a unique opportunity in Afghanistan. If we could find a way to produce High Energy Biscuits (HEBs) locally to supply our school meals programme, rather than importing them, then it might possible to introduce these fortified biscuits to the market commercially as well. This, in turn, could help tackle the country’s chronic micronutrient deficiencies.

There was clear enthusiasm from local businessmen, but little food-production capacity inside Afghanistan. So the idea emerged of bringing in a containerized factory to produce the biscuits.

In 2013, the mobile factory arrived from Verona, Italy, in a series of seven shipping containers. The idea – developed in consultation with the government – was to bring it to Afghanistan and install it the eastern province of Jalalabad, where it was to be run by a local company.

A straightforward plan – but not so simple to implement. First, transportation problems delayed the factory’s arrival in Afghanistan. Then, when it was installed, several hiccups delayed the start of production. A food technologist had to be called in and several adjustments had to be made to the machinery, but in April 2014 the first biscuits rolled off the production line.

Since then, about 250 metric tons of biscuits have been produced, using wheat flour and other local ingredients. Packaging materials are also sourced in Afghanistan, and plans are underway to include locally-produced soya flour as well.

The factory proved its value just months after production started. When heavy floods affected thousands of families across the entire north of the country, including a devastating landslide in Badakhshan province. WFP was able to quickly deliver HEBs from the Jalalabad factory to those in need. Before, we would have had to embark on the long and costly process of importing emergency food supplies. 

“At the very heart of this project is WFP’s commitment to helping Afghans achieve food security by building local capacity,” explains Djordje Vdovic, who manages the project for WFP. “The factory provides a stable income for 25 employees, and we have worked with the factory owner to introduce quality control measures that will have a knock-on effect on the production of other food. And all of it is helping to combat micronutrient deficiencies in the country. It’s a win-win proposition.”

Factory manager Dildar Khan Shinwari agrees. “My team is learning valuable skills which they can retain and pass on to others.” He explains that the high quality standards expected from WFP are helping him build a commercially viable business for the local market. “We are learning a lot from WFP, and we are beginning to see the return on our investment.”

WFP implements this project under its Purchase For Progress programme, which aims to harness the power of local economies to achieve food security. The project is generously funded by the Government of Korea, GAIN and the Government of Canada.


A biscuit factory shipped from Italy in seven containers and assembled in Afghanistan is now churning out nutrient-rich cookies for victims of humanitarian emergencies. At the same time, it is giving local farmers, millers and businessmen a chance of a brighter economic future.

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.


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

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.

09/04/2014 - 16:12

Q: You’ve been to Liberia. How does it look on the ground?
A: I think it is worse on the inside than we see from the outside. The World Health Organization (WHO) said it believes the number of cases are underestimated. That’s our impression too, particularly in Monrovia.

Q: What kind of challenges are you facing as a humanitarian organization? 
A: At a hospital or treatment centre, it is fine. We hand the food rations to our medical partners, and they take care of it. But outside that scenario, it's difficult. At this scale, with entire communities under quarantine, there are different steps you have to take. First of all, we must make sure that we mitigate the risk for our staff. Then, we don’t want to do distributions for 10,000 people. The more people you have, the more risk there is of spreading the virus. We want small groups. But lots of small groups become hard to manage. It means lots of communication.

Also, it’s difficult because we are designing the programme as we go. We’ve jumped straight in and we are running hard to contain the spread of the virus. But we are still learning to run as we go.

Q: What is the impact of the travel restrictions put in place by neighbouring countries? 
A: It is challenging our work. We need a reliable way of transporting the humanitarian staff into those countries, and we are working with governments to see what assurances can be put in place. If we can’t get in with supplies, with transport, with logisticians…then containing the outbreak will be very difficult.

Q: WFP has been present since the beginning of the crisis. What has it done so far? 
A: Yes, in Guinea we started at least four months ago. In Liberia, a month ago and in Sierra Leone, a couple of weeks ago. These countries were on board already with food distributions, but now it’s much more. We sent in about 50 extra staff and logisticians because this is about moving food in, moving food out, making sure we know where quarantined areas will come up, and trying to pre-position food. We aim to reach about 1.3 million people who are in these quarantined areas and in hospitals. 

Q: We know that the Ebola outbreak has an impact on the economy. What is its impact on food security?
There are issues of access to food and we are making sure that people have their basic needs during the quarantined period. We’re just at the beginning, to be frank. The prices of basic commodities are rising. We’ve done a preliminary analysis that shows a 30 percent increase for cassava and imported rice in Monrovia. When they did the graphs showing the peaks in the Ebola outbreak and the peaks in the market prices…they are following each other very closely.

But the other part of this is the disruption in agricultural production. We know from our contacts with farmers that planting has been disrupted.  In the UN system, WFP and the Food and Agricultural Organization are responsible for doing crop and food supply assessments, which give us a much better understanding at the macro level about what is happening to markets and crop production. So there are immediate, acute needs and then what looks like concentric circles just building around that epicentre with different kinds of crises which need to be managed. 

Q: How much money is it going to take to service the 1.3 million people?
A: The cost of the regional emergency operation is USD 70 million, for 1.3 million people, for three months.  But WHO is saying that it will be about 6-8 months before the outbreak is contained, so we will be extending our operations. We are doing this but we have no confirmed contribution. We are using stocks that we had on hand from other programs. We're saying to donors: "We have rice in this country for this – and we would like to use it for that [the Ebola response - ed]."  We have food stocks pre-positioned in the region, but we need money to transport them. So we are in contact with the donor community to get the support for an increased response. But you need to put this into a broader context:  I don’t think the world has ever seen so many concurrent crises on such a huge scale. The humanitarian community is stretched beyond belief.  

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up its emergency response in Ebola-hit nations of West Africa – most notably Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In this interview, WFP Regional Director for West Africa Denise Brown, who has just come back from the front lines of the operation, describes the situation in the field. 

09/04/2014 - 09:36

ROME -- The design competition “Zero Hunger: A World Without Hunger,” was open to any child around the world who benefits from a school feeding programme that involves WFP. Hundreds of children sent in their creative designs from 27 of the countries where WFP works. Sixteen winners were selected by an inter-divisional panel, including WFP's Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

The 16 winning artworks will be featured in WFP’s 2015 wall calendars and desk diaries, which are already available for pre-order from the merchandise site. "They make fantastic gifts," said Cristina Ascone, Head of Graphic Design and Publishing Unit, who has organized the contest for more than ten years. "It's a special chance for us to appreciate the talent and the spirit of the children who receive help from WFP."

Using crayons for first time

In Nepal, two schools in a rural mountain village in the far west of the country created hundreds of drawings. "Many of the 120 students participating had never used crayons or coloured pencils in their lives," said Deepesh Shrestha, WFP Communications Officer in Nepal. "We were so happy to see the excitement and happiness among the kids during the competition." You can see Nepal's winning entry to the right, drawn by 14-year-old Dhan Bahadur Bohara.

Visit to presidential palace

In Honduras, the country's first lady Ana García de Hernández brought all five of the country's winners, along with their mothers and teachers, to a celebration in Tegucigalpa, the capital city. There, they participated in a ceremony at the presidential palace and appeared on national TV. You can see the story of Roxana Daniela, one of the two winners from Honduras, in the video below.


Can you imagine the world without hunger? WFP school meals recipients around the world were asked the same question, then invited to submit their answers in pictures. Take a look at the 16 winning pictures of the world with zero hunger. Which one would you like to live in?

09/03/2014 - 14:52
Food Security Analysis

BANGUI -- In the little village of Yombo, 25 km south of Bangui, the arrival of a convoy of several cars and a bus is a source of excitement for the rural community. Although the capital of Central African Republic is just an hour away, it feels very isolated. There is no electricity and no mobile phone network – unless you want to climb up a hill where you can sometimes catch a signal.

Yombo is one of the villages where WFP and its partners – NGOs and the government -- are finalizing details of the Emergency Food Security Assessment, which will be conducted throughout C.A.R. in the coming weeks. Randomly chosen heads of households are sitting down for about an hour with the WFP team, answering questions not only about what the family eats, but also how they make a living, what the household’s expenses are, and how they access healthcare and education.

The 2014 survey is being conducted using handheld, touchscreen devices. The interviewers fill out a questionnaire on their devices and then send it to a server in Bangui. This new procedure is faster and safer – no lost papers, and no mistakes in putting together the inputs.

“It is crucial for us to be able to get a clear picture of the food security situation,” Jean-Martin Bauer, Senior Food Security Analyst, explains. “This assessment will help WFP and partners to be more precise and more efficient when reaching out to the people in need.”

The plan is to dispatch the interviewers to all the prefectures of the country, and then organize them to visit a selection of villages and displaced persons camps. 

This is not easy. Even before the crisis started, the Central African Republic was a logistical nightmare, with very few, poorly maintained roads, especially at the end of the rainy season. For the past year, the persisting insecurity has also been a major challenge for the humanitarian community. There are remote, very insecure regions within C.A.R. where nobody can go, and therefore no one knows exactly what the situation is.

The last assessment was conducted in October 2013. At that time, insecurity had already disrupted the country and an estimated 62% of the population lived below the poverty line. One year ago, over 1.1 million people – one third of the country’s population—were classified as moderately or severely food insecure. Now, after months of escalating violence and people fleeingtheir homes, WFP needs to assess the situation again.

Although complicated by the rainy season, the survey has to be conducted in September - October. It's the harvest period in the Central African Republic.  It is the time that people can assess what they have and what they will rely on to put food on the table for the rest of the year.

Twelve months after the last such survey, a nationwide assessment is about to get underway in Central African Republic to measure how 'food secure' families now are. The Emergency Food Security Assessment is being carried out by WFP, C.A.R. authorities and NGO partners so they can see how to respond better to the needs of the population.