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A unique view of all the ways WFP is assisting millions of people worldwide.

01/31/2017 - 18:03
Cash and Vouchers

"Given the scale of the needs, it was necessary for WFP and UNICEF work together to provide a coherent response to try and improve the living conditions of the displaced persons, especially those of women and children who are most vulnerable," said Philippe Martou, WFP Head of Office in North Kivu. 

Experience has shown that when households receive the money directly in their hands, they really appreciate the ability to choose their purchases according to their priorities. 

Kavira (23) a mother of six, explains that she had to seek refuge in Kanyabayonga because of communal violence in her home village in Nyanzale. She fled almost empty-handed and is now living with members of her extended family in Kanyabayonga. The latter welcomed her in their small and deteriorate house made of clay and wood in October 2016.
"Receiving the money was a blessing because now I can buy food, kitchen utensils and new clothes for my children," she says. “And at least I now have something to share with my relatives.”

Each of the 12,800 households assisted received a sum of US$ 92 - 185 dollars, depending on the number of persons in the family unit. With this money, they were able to meet food needs as well as buy essential household items such as soap and other toiletries.
"Winning the fight against hunger requires flexibility and innovation,” says Philippe Martou. “Cash transfers have many benefits. Not only do they allow vulnerable families to buy the food of their choice. They also help the local economy. Finally for WFP, this type of assistance eliminates storage and transportation costs associated with the traditional food distributions. This way of doing things makes sense for everyone.”

Through this joint intervention, the participating organizations have undertaken the largest money transfer operation - both in terms of the sums mobilized and the number of beneficiaries reached - that they’ve ever done in the DRC.

More than 90,000 vulnerable people were assisted through cash transfers in Kanyabayonga, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in November 2016. The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with Mercy Corps, Diakonie and Programme d’Appui au Développement (PAP) carried out this operation to meet the needs of people displaced because of armed conflict in Lubero and Rutshuru territories, eastern DRC.

01/30/2017 - 18:22

The Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Ertharin Cousin, told staff today that she will not seek a second five-year term and will conclude her service at the end of her current contract on 6 April 2017. She had earlier informed the Secretary-General of her decision and said she would be discussing the transition with him.

01/23/2017 - 16:16

Applicants are being asked to design innovative solutions that harness “exponential” technologies – those that double in power but halve their costs from one year to the next.

The solutions should be able to be rapidly deployed after the onset of a crisis, and secure a sustainable source of nutritious food as quickly as possible. In this way, they could help vulnerable families support their own households and reduce their dependence on external assistance. Entries can range from concepts to already implemented innovations.

The challenge is open to everybody, everywhere: entrepreneurs, technologists, scientists, students and passionate members of the public. Shortlisted winners will be invited to a boot camp at the WFP Innovation Accelerator in Munich to help flesh out their ideas with WFP staff and innovators. Following the boot camp, one team will be chosen to attend an all-expenses-paid nine-week-long Global Solutions Program, hosted at Singularity University’s campus at NASA Research Park in California. 

The Global Impact Challenge is open until 10 March 2017.

Find out more and apply.

Watch the Facebook live event from the World Economic Forum.

The World Food Programme and Singularity University have launched the Global Impact Challenge, an open call for bold ideas to ensure sustainable access to local and nutritious food in emergencies.

01/23/2017 - 12:00

Syrian mother of five Merve shares one of her favourite dishes as part of our series exploring the tastes of home for refugees and displaced families supported by the World Food Programme.

01/13/2017 - 08:02
Cash and Vouchers, Climate Change, Contributions to WFP

Khadija Maalliim Ali is 25, divorced, jobless and singlehandedly raising six children. She lives with her sister, also a single mother with 4 children.  

With little means to buy nutritious or diversified foods, Khadija relies on support from a mother and child nutrition centre in Yaaqshiid, northeast of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. In addition to pre and post-natal care and advice, she receives a monthly food ration from WFP as well as specialized nutrient-dense food supplements given to young children and a cash-based e-voucher to buy fresh food and vegetables. Together, these have helped Khadija and her small children avert malnutrition.

2016 was the year that Somalia’s food security situation reached a new threshold – 5 million Somalis, or 40% of the population, are now food insecure. Of that figure, 1.1. million people are unable to meet their daily food requirements and are in need of life-saving assistance, while 3.9 million are “stressed” and in need of livelihood support, without which they fall at risk of becoming even more acutely food insecure. The situation for children is also tenuous, with 350,000 children acutely malnourished, of whom 50,000 are severely malnourished. 

ECHO funding is helping WFP reach vulnerable groups such as mothers and young children and internally displaced populations (IDPs). Wherever possible, WFP is using SCOPE, a digital platform that allows WFP to register beneficiaries using biometrics (fingerprint and photo), store information on the amount of food they are entitled to and – in the case of cash or vouchers – transfer the specific amount onto the cards.

Diversity and Choice

Xaliimo Mohamed Nuur is a divorced mother of six, ages 2 to 10 years, living in an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp in Bossaso. Life is difficult – none of her children attend school and she is unable to find work, but she says the security situation in Bossaso is far better than in Mogadishu, where she used to live. In the Bossaso camp, she has access to a health facility.

 “I had nothing before except little support from my ex-husband. This food assistance has had a positive impact on my family – my children aren’t continuously hungry,” said Xaliimo who has been receiving food assistance from WFP for the last three months on her e-transfer card and finds it easy to use.  “I know how to place my finger in the fingerprint scan when they verify my card in the machine.  I like that I buy food of my choice.”

Learning new skills

ECHO funding is also enabling Somalis to acquire new skills to help get them back on their feet. Hinda Osman Hassan is a 32-year old widow and mother of six. Her inconsistent domestic jobs, such as washing clothes, have meant that only her two eldest can go to school, while her four younger children stay home. Hinda recently completed a 9-month training course in Bossaso that consisted of 3-months of numeracy and literacy, followed by 6-months of mobile phone repair training. Throughout the duration of both training modules, she received monthly food entitlements on her SCOPE e-transfer card to feed herself and her family.  

After the graduation ceremony, Hinda will receive a mobile phone repair business startup kit. Her goals are clear.

“With my skills, I will be a big person with my own business, and food will not be a problem for me anymore. I will be able to send my children to school,” she explained. 

Through its humanitarian funding to WFP, ECHO is making an impact each day. From a Somali family who sits down to a meal it could not otherwise afford, a single mother of six provides food for her children while learning skills so she can go from washing clothes to repairing mobile phones, to a mother and her children who get a better chance at a productive life when they receive food supplements to prevent malnutrition.


Written by Mireille Ferrari, with contributions by Habiba Bishar (Mogadishu, Somalia), Odette Kishabaga and Abdifatah Barre (Bossaso, Somalia).  Photos by WFP/Kabir Dhanji

A worsening food security situation, due to a prolonged drought and ongoing conflict in Somalia, is threatening to unravel the fragile progress achieved since the famine of 2011. More than ever, WFP is counting on its partnership with ECHO to assist in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable Somalis. 

01/10/2017 - 06:49

Situated at the south-western coastal area of the province of Maguindanao is the Municipality of Upi, a mountainous town composed of 23 barangays home to nearly 50,000 people, a large number of which relies on agriculture as their primary source of income.

Despite prior improvements, transporting their agricultural commodities is still difficult for several barangays due to rough roads and steep transportation costs. “Travel to our barangay is often difficult because of the limited access, especially during the rainy season,” said Anson, a farmer and resident of Ranao Pilayan.

Anson is one of 75 men hired to work on improving local roads as part of a Food For Assets programme in Upi, Maguindanao. WFP/ Jeanne Spillane
Anson is one of 75 men tasked to work on improving local roads as part of a Food For Assets programme in Upi, Maguindanao. WFP/ Jeanne Spillane

Working With Local Government

In response, WFP, in partnership with the local government unit of Upi, launched a project entitled “Enhancing Food Security Initiatives of Upi Upland Barangays”. The project focuses on rehabilitating 5 kilometers of farm-to-market roads, benefiting 950 households in 11 barangays, and aims to increase access to basic social services by reducing transportation costs and travel time. Meanwhile, household-level food security is addressed through the inclusion of establishing backyard vegetable gardens.

Anson is one of over three hundred people to register for a new electronic ID card from WFP. He joins a team of 75 men tasked with digging drainage channels on local access roads to ensure they remain passable even when the monsoon rains fall. The new ID card will allow him to claim food assistance from WFP for three months in return for the work. 

Many of the roads in the region are unpaved dirt roads, prone to severe flooding when monsoon rains hit. Local government identified road improvement as one area that would benefit local farmers and families. Drainage channels like this one ensure that the road remains passable whatever the weather.  WFP/ Jeanne Spillane

Registration of project participants in the SCOPE system began in October 2016, and from a distance the scene at barangay Rifao is a familiar sight, one no different from previous sign-ups for WFP projects. SCOPE is an online database system which WFP has developed to improve how it assists people in need. In the past, distributing food or cash assistance to the poorest communities involved registering people using a paper-based system. This often proved time-consuming and inefficient, with duplication a frequent problem. 

Electronic ID Cards

New electronic ID cards are provided to project participants, and while the initial registration does take time for WFP staff on the ground, once complete, monitoring and tracking of food and cash distributions is far more efficient. SCOPE also means registration and distribution services can be more easily delivered directly to the people who need them, meaning they no longer have to travel to a centralized distribution point.

“This registration was much faster than I expected. I also appreciate that it was conducted in a nearby barangay. We didn’t have to travel far from our homes or spend money to be able to register and participate because the registration took place near us,” explained Anson. 

Anson is one of 75 men hired to work on improving local roads as part of a Food For Assets programme in Upi, Maguindanao. WFP/ Jeanne Spillane

Improving Monitoring & Evaluation

In addition to WFP’s monitoring, Ronald, the leader of the Project Management Committee, said that SCOPE also assists them in their monitoring and evaluation. “SCOPE will help us in checking attendance, ensure participation, and in the verification or validation process during distributions. With the new IDs, it’s quicker to identify the participants and ensure that the money they’ve earned goes to the right person.

Since re-establishing its presence in the Philippines in 2006, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has been working in conflict-affected areas in Central Mindanao in close partnership with local government units and communities to rebuild their assets following years of conflict and displacement. Now, WFP is improving its project registration, implementation, and monitoring system to streamline and balance project implementation and benefit project participants.

12/23/2016 - 13:06
School Meals

At Muhammed Lower Basic School, South of the capital city, WFP in partnership with the Government of the Gambia is implementing School Meals using a pilot Community Cash-Based Transfer model. This model provides funds directly to the school and is managed by key community members who are also part of the Food Management Committee. 

“We use the money to buy rice, coos/maize, beans, oil and lots of vegetables depending on the menu of the day. With the cash we receive, we are empowered with choices to vary the food we provide for the children,” said Alagie Cham, Head Teacher at Muhammedan for the past 27 years.

The caterer model on the other hand, hires a qualified individual who takes responsibility for the procurement, preparation and provision of daily meals to the school children.

Community involvement is key to success

The pilot, which started at the beginning of the 2016 school year is an inclusive programme that encourages greater community participation in the school meals by transferring management including procurement of commodities to the communities - a step towards strengthening national ownership. At Janack Lower Basic School for instance, the treasurer and head of the Mothers’ club supports the head of the school in managing the funds sent to the school and leads the daily procurement of fresh vegetables.

“I am very grateful to the WFP for giving us the opportunity to lead and learn more about school meals. It also makes it easier for us to mobilize a lot of support from the community ranging from the supply of firewood to pumpkin and sweet potato which the children love,” said Jow excitedly.

“Mondays are my favourite. We get ‘benachin’ with fresh fish and it’s beautiful”, said 12 year old Mariama.

Better food, higher enrolment

Janack has seen a high increase in its attendance this term compared to previous years. With this innovative way of providing school meals, the taste is closer to home but much more diverse especially with the possibility given to the schools and communities to explore different options using locally available foods.

“The benefits we get from this programme are many but one of the most important is attendance,” said Halimatou Jallow, a teacher and store keeper.

“The quality of food that is provided in school is different from what the children are used to at home and this has translated to more attendance even for a half day,” she continued.

Future prospects for Cash transfers in schools

WFP’s cash transfers activities in schools is in line with the sustainability plans to strengthen both national and regional capacities in the management of school meals. It is not only an opportunity to transfer skills and expertise required but also to increase community ownership for programme sustainability.

“We are happy to have received training from WFP and this new approach overall,” said Head Teacher. “This knowledge and involvement has transformed the community’s perspective and attitude towards school meals. Now we have different sections of Janack responsible for different issues such as fresh foods, cereals, accounting and handwashing, etc, unlike before when we left it all with WFP and the government” he added.

Written by Isatou Njai 


Through the assistance of the European Union, WFP is promoting a pilot cash-based transfer in 24 schools across the Gambia through the Community and caterer cash transfer models to improve community participation and ownership. Food Management Committees who initially had challenges diversifying school meals are now providing children with more choices using locally available cereals, fruits and vegetables.Through the assistance of the European Union, WFP is promoting a pilot cash-based transfer in 24 schools across the Gambia through the Community and caterer cash transfer models to improve community participation and ownership. Food Management Committees who initially had challenges diversifying school meals are now providing children with more choices using locally available cereals, fruits and vegetables.

12/22/2016 - 17:06
Food For Assets

Early this year, community members in the small village of Makuach in Aweil West County in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state met to discuss how to tackle some of the problems they faced. After thorough consultation with all community members the decision was almost unanimous: to build a dyke across the dirt road that connects the village to a nearby rural town of Udhum.

“This is the only road that we have to access markets and a health center,” explained Ajok Agar, a 45 year-old resident of the village as she pointed to the narrow road.  “But when the rain starts it becomes impassable for any vehicle and very challenging for those walking on foot.”

The absence of a road has an impact on economic life and health care of the community in Makuach, especially during the rainy season when the existing paths that serve as roads are submerged leaving the villagers with no option other than to walk for hours through swamps to reach nearby towns.  

“Sick people are carried by men on wooden stretchers to reach the nearest health center,” Ajok said. “The men walk very slowly in the water and this takes hours. Recently, a woman in labor died before seeing a health worker.” 

The residents of Makuach resolved to follow the example of other villages in the Northern Bahr el Ghazal region to construct a road-dyke. The 1.5 metre high structure would block flood waters from submerging the path but it would also be wide enough to allow people and cars to move. 

The project was submitted through a community based organization to the World Food Programme (WFP) which has been supporting communities in the area through the Food for Assets (FFA) creation programme. 

WFP has received C$ 20 million from Canada for a three year (2016-2019) project to support initiatives to restore livelihoods and enhance the resilience of the targeted communities against future man-made or natural shocks through the creation and rehabilitation of assets. WFP gives each person a ration of food comprising cereal, pulses, and vegetable oil, in return for the days worked on the building or boosting of assets that will benefit the whole community. 

 “Life will be much easier once the project is completed,” said Kuach Dhol, 50, who is the chairperson of the Makuach village project management committee. 

This new 1.7 km dyke-road covers the most flooded area and the villagers are already using it to access markets and schools. A further 8 km of community access road, which is not a dyke, has also been constructed through the FFA assistance. 

About 275,000 people are participating in family and community asset building activities implemented by WFP through the support from Canada in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal states (Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap) and Eastern Equatoria State. The project is contributing to promoting a sense of ownership of the assets amongst community members and also improving longer-term food and livelihoods security.

“We are all energized. We can’t wait to finish this road and start another activity,” said Kuach with a broad smile.

Story by Getahun Amogne

For rural communities in South Sudan a road is not simply a way of getting somewhere, it is a life changer. The World Food Programme and its partners have been supporting communities to construct community access roads under the food for assets programme. Here's how it changed the lives of a small community in South Sudan's Greater Bahr el Ghazal region. 

12/22/2016 - 11:09
Cash and Vouchers

For Aluel Lual, 40, the sorghum harvest this year has been dismal.  Her farm, in the village of Uyon in the Northern Bahr el Ghazal region of South Sudan, failed to produce enough food to feed her family. 

“Most of the sorghum failed due to the lack of rain and the amount of sorghum I harvested was less than half of what I got in the previous year,” explained Lual, a single mother of six children. 

It is a common story for most families in this region of the country where erratic rainfall and dry spells led to failed harvests which, in addition to high food prices and insecurity on most supply routes, left nearly a million people facing severe food shortages. 

Fortunately, Lual had an alternative. She had agreed to a suggestion from community members to participate in a conditional support programme where the World Food Programme (WFP) provides a cash incentive in exchange fo time spent to cultivate their land and obtain skills in improved agricultural techniques. 

She used her other plot to grow groundnuts as part of the WFP cash for assets (CFA) activity funded by UK aid and implemented in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 As part of the CFA activities, WFP and its partners provide cash assistance to help communities create assets to restore livelihoods and to strengthen resilience against future shocks. The participants also receive skills development trainings, agricultural inputs and tools as well as continuous technical support by WFP, FAO and their partners.

Participants from Uyon received training on how to improve the cultivation of groundnuts with experts from WFP’s partners visiting regularly to give advice. This has yielded a big harvest for the families, giving them a means to survive in the hard times that have hit their region. 

“I will sell part of my ground nuts and buy sorghum and other food items. I will have enough food for my family and some money to send all of my children to school,” Lual said as she harvested her crop. 

“I made a good decision to enroll in the programme and use my other plot for ground nuts. At least I now have something after the loss of my sorghum plantation, but those who used all of their plots for sorghum production have suffered a lot,” she added. 

So far in 2016, more than 77,000 people have received cash in exchange for work or training as part of the UK aid funded Building Resilience through Asset Creation and Enhancement (BRACE II) project, which aims to build the resilience of households and communities to climate variability and shocks by improving food security, diversification of livelihoods and strengthening social lin the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region (including the states of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap).

 “At the beginning it was a challenge to change the mindset of the people and convince them to work together to build household and community assets,” said Garang Jiel, a WFP staff member coordinating the activities in Aweil West. “Now that they have seen the benefits they have become advocates of the programme,” he added.

BRACE II which runs until June 2018 is implemented by WFP, FAO and their partners. In 2017, the number of people benefiting from Food/Cash for Assets (FFA) activities is expected to rise to 109,000.

By Getahun Amogne

South Sudan's Greater Bahr el Ghazal region is prone to shocks such as droughts and floods, which often affect food security. The World Food Programme (WFP) and partners have been working on projects to support communities strengthen their resilience to climate variability and shocks through a combination of food and cash for asset creation activities. 

12/21/2016 - 13:58
Cash and Vouchers

The Mberra refugee camp opened its doors to Malians fleeing political violence in 2012 when clashes between government military and rebel groups broke out, causing large displacements in neighbouring countries.

Since 2012, more than 50,000 Malians have been hosted by the Mauritanian populations living on the border with Mali in and around the small city of Bassikounou. Over the past years, WFP has assisted registered and new refugees in Mberra camp through monthly food distributions, nutritional assistance for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition for children aged 6-59 months and pregnant and lactating women. WFP’s monthly assistance to families also encourages them to send their children to the primary schools and pre-schools in the camp, where one warm meal is prepared and served on a daily basis to children attending.

In 2012, along with her husband and five children, Tanima fled Northern Mali and crossed the border with Mauritania. The family, along with many others, has since found refuge in Mberra camp, but has not been able to return in safety to Mali because of the unstable political situation. She tells WFP that the living conditions are difficult. “We have no means to survive on our own without the assistance [provided by humanitarian actors]. We are grateful for the WFP distributions which allow us to survive and feed our children” she stated, adding that “we would need more [assistance] to fully meet our needs”.

To give families like those of Tanima better options, WFP shifted part of the assistance to cash-based transfers as part of the monthly assistance to refugees in June 2016. Currently WFP’s food basket consists of a 35% in-kind commodities (rice, vegetable oil and salt– refugees’ preferred in-kind commodities) and a 65% of cash-based transfers.

Cash-based transfers give beneficiaries the freedom to choose what they want according to their culinary preferences, needs and also convenience. “We are happy to also receive cash, as now we can buy key commodities such as milk, meat, condiments and sauce for the rice, and charcoal for our stoves”, mentioned Tanima. Until recently, refugees relied on firewood fetched around the camp for cooking, putting further strain on an already degraded natural environment and causing further soil erosion and deforestation.

Cash-distributions have also given WFP more flexibility to provide a more reactive assistance to refugees in events of pipeline breaks. What is more, the cash-transfers have not had a direct impact on commodity prices in local markets since they were introduced in Mberra. On the contrary, the positive response of the local markets to the introduction of cash and availability of food are also good indicators of the sustainability of this transfer modality.

Through the support of ECHO, USAID Food for Peace and the governments of Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the Principauté de Monaco, WFP continued to assist registered refugees throughout 2016 and provided assistance to new arrivals since October. While the introduction of cash-based transfers is a positive innovation in the Mberra context, more needs to be done with the Government, donors and partners alike.

WFP’s aim is to assist 42,500 refugees throughout 2017, and to reach the most vulnerable through a targeting based on vulnerability instead of refugee status. WFP looks to explore innovative transfer modalities, such as electronic cash transfers, while designing longer-term activities to increase refugees’ and host populations’ self-reliance. This is in line with WFP efforts in Mauritania to strengthen synergies and better integrate humanitarian assistance and development activities.

WFP urgently needs USD 14 million to continue assisting refugees throughout 2017 with care and maintenance activities while developing innovative and long-term sustainable solutions. Over 80% of refugees continue to rely on WFP to meet their food and nutrition needs.

Written by Vanessa Rizzi

Since 2012, more than 50,000 Malian refugees have sought safety in Mauritania where WFP has assisted them through monthly food distributions and nutritional assistance. In June 2016, WFP improved its assistance by providing cash-based transfers as part of the monthly assistance to refugees, giving families the opportunity to decide for themselves what to eat.