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How We Help

The differences we make
Every day, we make a difference to the lives of millions of people. Each of these people has a story to tell. And so do the WFP staff who make it happen. You can read some of these stories here.

08/27/2010 - 14:52
Responding to Emergencies

MULTAN – As floodwaters cascaded across Pakistan’s breadbasket in Punjab province, thousands of farmers have lost their homes, crops and livestock. Some 17 million acres were submerged by the flooding and over 200,000 animals killed.

Moreed, 29, and his family of five are among thousands of Punjabis facing an uncertain future as they wait for the waters to recede. They’ve been camped out in a makeshift tent on the side of a dirt road for the last two weeks, and say they don’t know when they’ll be able to go home.

"At least we have something to eat," said Moreed, whose family are among over 360,00 people in the area who recently received a month's ration of oil, wheat flour and high-energy biscuits. At a food distribution point not far off, helicopters have also flown in sachets of supplementary plumpy, a fortified peanut paste specialized designed to meet the nutritional needs of small children.

Helicopters have played a vital role in providing food assistance in the area around Multan, though more are needed to reach the over 800,000 people around the country currently cut off by road.

WFP video producer Marco Frattini is currently in Punjab, “the land of five rivers,” where epic floods have laid waste to millions of acres of farmland. In this video, he meets Moreed, whose family is living in a tent on the side of the road as they wait for the waters to recede. Watch video

08/04/2010 - 18:12
Responding to Emergencies

How bad is the situation where you are now?
Deluges in Northwestern Pakistan have caused heavy damage in at least 25 districts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region where livestock have drowned, crops are underwater, bridges have collapsed and many roads have been completely washed away. The number of people affected by these floods is rising every day.

Amjad Jamal is a Public Information Officer based in Islamabad. A native of Pakistan, he worked for the national Tourism Development Coorporation before joining WFP in 2003.


Who are the people who have been affected?
This area is already home to more than one million people displaced by violence along the border with Afghanistan. The flooding was worst precisely in the communities where these people had come in search of refuge. Local residents have paid a heavy price in terms of lost lives and livelihoods, but perhaps the worst affected were the ones who had so little to begin with.

What is WFP doing to help them?
WFP has a strong and resourceful network of NGOs in the area who were already helping us deliver assistance to the over one million displaced people. We have launched food distributions in the areas worst where the flooding was heaviest- in the Peshawar and Swat ValleysMardan, Charsadda and Nowshera . Though we’re still working to determine the full extent of the damage, we hope to reach nearly half a million people with food aid by the end of the week.

What challenges are you facing?
A lot of areas are still cut off by the flood waters—people are in desperate need of help, but due to the damaged roads and bridges, it’s impossible to get to them. To make matters worse, the weather has not been good and we’re expecting more rain that will only exacerbate the situation. But we’re working hard to overcome these obstacles and we won’t stop until we’ve gotten to everyone.

The floods in Northwestern Pakistan have befallen one of the most volatile areas in the world where over one million people were already in flight from turmoil along the Afghan border. WFP Pakistan Spokesman Amjad Jamal explains what these floods have meant for them and what WFP is doing to help the scores of other people affected.

06/15/2010 - 16:59

PORT-AU-PRINCE – “It’s like magic,” beamed Brienne Charles as she watched the unassembled parts of her new home descend from a WFP-chartered helicopter on to the hilltop in southern Haiti.

“Now my children will have a decent place to sleep again,” said the 38-year-old mother of two, who has been living in a tent with her family since her home in the village of Petite Savane, 60 kilometers west of Port-au-Prince, was levelled by the January 12 earthquake.

Rough terrain

“They lost everything,” said Erika Hibon, who works with Un Techo Para Mi Pais, or, A Roof For My Country. The Chile-based NGO provides shelter for disaster victims, in this case prefabricated wooden houses easily transportable by truck and capable of quick assembly in a few hours.

Finding more permanent shelter for people who lost their homes has become increasingly urgent with the onset of the hurricane season and a large part of the population still living in tents.

The trouble with Brienne and her neighbours was the site of their homes at the top of a steep hill just outside Petite Savane. “There was no way to get a truck up there. So we went to the UN Logistics Cluster to see if they could help,” said Erika.

As the main provider of logistics services for the UN, and lead agency of its Logistics Cluster, WFP stepped up to meet the challenge. Its solution came in the form of a Russian-built MI 171 helicopter.

Help from above

“The MI 171 is ideal for this sort of task,” said Emmanuel Jarry, the WFP logistics officer in charge of the operation. “It has a sling capacity of four metric tons, easily enough to handle those houses.”

Parts for the three houses were trucked from Port-au-Prince to a site on the coast near Petite Savane and then airlifted up to the hilltop village. The job took all of a few hours – much to Brienne’s delight.

“It has been very hard for us since the earthquake,” she said. “We’re far from the main roads so we haven’t had much help. We need clothes and food and maybe some medicine. But at least now, we have a house to live in.”

Erika said the project could provide houses to many other people in the same situation. “This was an experiment to see if it could work. Now that we know it can be done, there are hundreds of other people in isolated villages all over the mountains that we may be able to help.”


Getting the job done
Delivering food assistance to 90 million people every year in some of the most inaccessible places on Earth requires a formidable logistics machine. In 2005, WFP's expertise won it a mandate to coordinate logistics for the UN in emergency situations, like the earthquake in Haiti. Find out more about how WFP gets the job done.


Brienne Charles and her neighbours lost their homes when the January earthquake ripped through their remote mountain village. Now they’re getting new ones thanks to a Chilean NGO and WFP’s knack for reaching people in even the hardest-to-reach locations. Watch the clip

06/09/2010 - 14:16
Food For Assets

PORT-AU-PRINCE – When the earth shook beneath Haiti five months ago, Johnny’s wife, two children and sister were among the victims. One of thousands of bereaved survivors of the quake, Johnny is now hard at work to rebuild the life he lost.

Every day, he helps clear debris from the streets in return for about USD $5 in cash and food rations. The temporary employment keeps him clothed and fed, and even allows him to save up money to help his elderly mother.

The rubble that workers like Johnny are collecting goes to pave roads and build walls to combat erosion and protect farms around the country.

It’s among several Food for Work projects underway in Haiti that provide families with the food and basic necessities they need to survive in return for work repairing earthquake damage and building infrastructure.

As with any community-building programme, engaging women is the key to success. Surveys showed women to be among the most adamant supporters of food and cash for projects as solutions to their families’ short-term needs.

Most importantly, these projects are offering hope to people like Florence, who are looking beyond the ruins to a better future. Florence hopes one day to open a soda store, a small dream and part of the much greater task of getting Haiti on its feet.

As Haiti raises itself from the rubble of the January earthquake, WFP is helping survivors start again by giving them cash and food in return for work to rebuild the country. Johnny, who lost his family, and Florence, who dreams of starting a business, are among those reclaiming their lives. Watch the clip

05/26/2010 - 11:55
Nutrition, Preventing Hunger

NIAMEY – One of the poorest and most drought-prone places on Earth, Niger is a risky place to depend on farming. But thousands of people do, like Fatih, a widowed mother who toils against the odds to provide for her children.

Between harvests, during what they call the “lean season,” she used to travel for miles in the blazing heat to pay exorbitant prices at faraway food markets. Now, she and other women in her village are shielding themselves from hunger with the help of a cereal bank where they can borrow grain at low interest rates when food supplies run low.

While the cereal bank staffed by these mostly illiterate women stands in stark contrast to the raucous “pit” of the Chicago Board of Trade, what they’re doing is very similar: hedging their risks and betting on futures.

Droughts, floods and crop failures can all play havoc with commodity markets, but the stakes for small farmers like Fatih are considerably higher. In a time of high food prices, bad harvests can drag families into debt and from there into poverty and hunger.

That’s why the cereal bank, where Fatih now works, offers a badly needed safety net. Set up by WFP and Care, the bank puts women in charge of monitoring stock and overseeing the loans for the local families who need them.

But even the simplest administrative tasks pose a challenge to women who can’t read. In order to learn the skills they need to make the food bank work, they receive lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic as well as health, nutrition and child care.

Find out more about empowering women through food aid.

Risk is a way of life for traders on western commodity markets. But it’s even more so for farmers like Fatih who bet their livelihoods on every harvest. Cereal banks reduce the risk of disaster by loaning out grain when times are tough. Watch the clip
11/26/2009 - 10:54
Responding to Emergencies

SAN SALVADOR – At 2 a.m. on Saturday, November 2, a neighbour knocked on the door to warn Estela and her family that the river level was rising dangerously. Suddenly, water poured into the house from everywhere, the doors flew in all directions.

"In a matter of seconds the water was up to our necks and we tried to get out as fast as we could. Suddenly, the lights went out and afterwards I did not see my family again,” Estela said, recalling her experience.

Too tired to swim

“I remember hearing my husband yelling and telling me to climb up a tree. I tried to swim, but I was too tired to keep going and gave up. I don't know how, but I ended up on the top of a car and was dragged several kilometres downstream. That’s how I survived."

“I can't believe what's happened to us. I lost my husband, six grandchildren, my brothers, nephews. The smallest of my grandchildren was one year and six months old.

Estela, 58, lives in the community of "La Caridad" in the department of San Vicente, one of the areas worst hit by the storms and torrential rains. She, along with two surviving grandchildren, received nutritious High Energy Biscuits from WFP at one of the emergency centres set up in the wake of the disaster.

Emergency rations

WFP reached more than 7,000 people with emergency rations in the immediate aftermath of the recent floods. Next week it is scheduled to begin full food distributions -- dry rations of rice, beans and vegetable oil -- in order to help affected people get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.

Hurricane Ida left 196 people dead, 78 missing, and caused damage calculated at US$870 million. The worst affected areas were San Vicente, La Paz and Cuscatlan in the country's southeast. WFP and its partners estimate that as many as 30,000 people will need food in the coming months.

The UN has launched a flash appeal with the El Salvador government for more than US$14.7 million. WFP is requesting US$1.7 million to assist people in need of food.

Estela Nuñez, who lost 15 family members in the storms and floods which swept El Salvador in the wake of Hurricane Ida, is among the thousands of people who are benefitting from WFP emergency food assistance as they start to rebuild their lives.

10/05/2009 - 13:22
Responding to Emergencies

MANILA  -- Teodora Castor, who lives in the city of Taguig, one of Manila’s poor suburbs, has never known flooding this bad. “I’ve lived for 34 years in the same home. Only three times have we experienced such massive flooding—in 1972, in 1986, and now. But this time was the worst and most unforgettable,” she says.

Teodora makes a living sewing dish rags. She lives with her three children and eight grandchildren. Her husband is unemployed. When the flooding was worst, she took all her grandchildren to the evacuation centre, where they would be safer.

“But yesterday, we decided to take them out of the overcrowded evacuation centre,” she says tearfully. "I don’t want them to get sick. Many children have gotten sick with cough, fever, colds as well as diarrhoea.”

Cleaning up

"We'll make do in our damaged home. My children and I take turns keeping an eye on them while we try to clean up what’s left of our home."

“I’m not even sure how we will make ends meet now. My sewing machine for the dish rags that I sell was drenched in the floods, and it’s now starting to rust and won't start. My son drives a public transport vehicle, a motorized tricycle, and it got completely soaked in the floods for days and won’t start any more either.”

“My grandchildren are my priority. They need food, rice as well as water to drink. The ones that are helping are giving us hope," says with a small smile, as she fondly talks some more about her grandchildren. "They are all that we have—for now.”

07/03/2009 - 16:36
Climate Change, Disaster Risk Reduction, Focus on Women, Food For Assets

DHAKA -- When Asma married at the age of 16, as many girls do in Bangladesh, she had the same hopes of a better future as all young newlyweds. But Asma’s dreams were not to be realised. Her new husband, seven years her senior, was ill and unable to support a family. Asma, now 34, had no choice but to be the breadwinner in a family of five that also includes two sons, Masud, 10, and Mamun, 4, and a daughter, Kona, 6 months.

Life was made even harder by the family’s location in a village alongside the River Teesta in northern Bangladesh, one of the most food-insecure areas of the country. During the monsoons the river swells over its banks, causing flooding and severe soil erosion. Asma, like thousands of her neighbours, had to move several times as her tiny mud house was washed away.

WFP in Bangladesh

WFP has been helping communities adapt to climate change in Bangladesh for over two decades. In partnership with the government, WFP planted 37 million trees and helped create or rehabilitate:

  • 25,000 km of roads above flood levels
  • 11,000 km of river and coastal embankments
  • 4,000 km of canals for drainage and irrigation
  • 2,300 acres of water bodies for fish culture
  • 1,000 drinking water tanks
  • 400 water tanks for rainwater harvesting and conservation in drought-prone areas


“My life consisted of nightmares only,” says Asma. “When food prices went up and rice was 35 taka [52 US cents] a kilogram, we had to skip two meals a day. I could not afford to send my children to school”.

Enhancing resiliency

Asma enrolled in the Enhancing Resiliency (ER) project, one of the programmes that WFP has implemented with the government of Bangladesh and NGOs to respond to, and prepare for, natural disasters. Asma received 2.5 kg of rice and 37.5 taka every day during her six months on the ER project.

As a result of her increased awareness, Asma then joined together with 34 of her neighbours to raise their houses above flood levels. This backbreaking work entailed collecting and carrying 550 cubic meters of soil, weighing nearly two tons, from the river banks and ditches and building a foundation for her new house on higher ground. Asma’s house took 14 days to raise, at a cost of just $700.

Safe from floods

Since 2001, 1.3 million women have received training on disaster preparedness and 30,000 houses have been raised— 4,000 of them under the ongoing ER programme. A newly-confident Asma says, “As an ER participant I raised my house with the help of WFP and my co-workers. Now floods will not be able to wash away whatever assets we have. I can concentrate on my cow-rearing project. My children are back in school. And, most importantly, I have dreams for the future”.

Bangladesh is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Experts predict that climate change could affect more than 70 million Bangladeshis due to the country’s geographic location, low elevation, high population, poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and high dependence on natural resources. 

Asma recently took part in WFP food-for-training course on disaster preparedness, which helped her to assess and reduce disaster risks, as well as acquire skills that will enable her to generate her own income. Her house is now safe from floods and she can concentare on her new cow rearing business.

04/05/2009 - 14:30
Aid professionals, Preventing Hunger

TAMALE -- Like most inhabitants of Bogni, a small farming village in northern Ghana, Mahamadu Zuuru has been a peasant farmer all his life. He grows a mix of crops: maize, sorghum, field peas and groundnuts, among others. Yet he does not produce enough to feed his family, let alone surplus that he could sell at a profit.

Rainfall is erratic, the soil is depleted of nutrients because of overplanting, and seeds and fertilizers are expensive. Life for Zuuru has been a vicious circle of working very hard and receiving very little in return. In 2007 he lost his crops to floods and then drought. When the 2008 planting season came around, there were no seeds to plant.

Then Zuuru’s community got word that “the NGO people” had come and they wanted to help needy, vulnerable households improve their agricultural productivity. Zuuru's household was soon on the list of beneficiaries of CARE International's FARM-2 project.

Left with dilemma

CARE International’s field officers encouraged him and other beneficiaries not to sell or eat the maize, bambara-bean and field-pea seeds he received, but to plant them so they would have food in the future. But this left Zuuru with a dilemma – if he planted all the seeds, there wouldn’t be enough food to tide him and his family over until harvest time.

Zuuru considered borrowing a bag of maize from a wealthier community member. This is normal practice - those who are better off lend foods to poorer people during the peak hunger season. After harvesting, Zuuru would have to pay back double the quantity borrowed.

But Zuuru was about to receive more good news from “the NGO people”. During the planning and design of FARM-2, it was considered unfair to give seeds to poor farmers who had nothing to eat at the time and to insist they plant all the seeds without eating any. And so WFP had been approached to assist the farmers with food so they could eat while they planted the seeds and waited for the harvest.

Plant all the seeds

Zuuru was given a 50-kg bag of white maize, 7.5 kg of beans, vegetable cooking oil and iodized salt. The idea of borrowing from a neighbor was discarded.

The WFP food assistance had made it possible for farmers in Bogni to plant all the seeds they received. They were not tempted to harvest their maize prematurely, as they’d done in previous years – so there will be plenty of corn to harvest this year. Neither did they have to borrow from their neighbors. And the women of Bogni pointed out that they would now be able to stock up on shea nuts, which they would sell at a higher price the following year – giving them more money to buy good seeds for the next farming season. Without the WFP food assistance, all the shea nuts would have been sold cheaply to buy food.

For the community of Bogni, household food security is no longer a dream – thanks to this collaboration among WFP, CARE International and local farmers.

Poor farmers in Ghana harvest too little to feed their families, let alone to build lasting food security. A collaboration between WFP and Care International means they can plant more seeds and still have enough food for their families while they wait for the harvest.

03/19/2009 - 12:05
Dossier: Food out of reach, Nutrition, School Meals

NAIROBI -- Chesi Musa used to earn money to buy food for herself and her sisters by hiring herself out to dig in other people’s fields. For around $1 a day, it’s back-breaking work – at any age. 

But Chesi is only 13 years old. She should have been in school instead of hard at work. “It’s very difficult to cultivate land, because the ground is hard and very dry,” she says. 

A meal a day

Now, though, she has an incentive to attend school every day. Since January, WFP has been feeding children in her school one meal a day. It is one of several new school feeding programmes in the Kwale and other areas near the Mombasa coast.

These are some of the poorest parts of Kenya. People who were already suffering the effects of 2008’s steep increases in the prices of basic food staples, had their crops destroyed by drought following the failure of the end-of-year rains.

Chesi is one of 1.4 million schoolchildren in Kenya that WFP aims to feed in 2009. Many of their stories are similar to hers. Chesi lives with her aunt, who tries to support her extended family by selling alcohol made from coconuts. There is never enough money. Across the region, children are being pulled out of school to go and work to help pay for the one meal a day that most people in these areas now eat. 

Girls enrol in school

WFP’s school feeding programmes encourage parents to send their children, especially girls, to school. In the first week of the school feeding programme at Chesi’s school, Mteza Primary, 20 new students enrolled. 

Chesi’s lunchtime meal of maize and beans, mixed with oil and salt, provides her with all the nutritional requirements she needs to grow. And school feeding has also been shown to improve academic performance. “It helps me concentrate in class, which is something I had difficulty doing before,” she says.

In Kenya, many children are facing a choice: go to school – or work to feed themselves and their families. WFP’s new school feeding programmes mean that some youngsters no longer need to miss out on an education in order to eat.