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650521
10/24/2016 - 14:50
Food For Assets, Preventing Hunger

“Sometimes we would stay idle all year, praying for rain,” says Masud Mahajire, Suli Village Executive Officer. “If there was no rain then there was no work to do.”

Suli is a small, sparsely populated village in the semi-arid region of Dodoma in central Tanzania. Along with its neighbouring villages, Fufu and Chiboli, Suli is part of World Food Programme’s (WFP) Saemaul Zero Hunger Communities (SZHC) pilot.[quote|“Before the project started, our workforce was moving away to search for opportunities, but now we’ve reached a point where people are coming here and looking for jobs.”]

The project, funded by the Republic of Korea, is based on Saemaul Undong (the New Village Movement), which was implemented in the Republic of Korea in the 1970s. Saemaul Undong successfully contributed to poverty reduction in rural areas through community-driven development projects.

Based on the community’s needs, the SZHC project helps villages plan and build community assets such as rainwater harvesting tanks, borehole wells, teacher housing, community centres, warehouses, sesame seed processing equipment and rainwater catchment dams.

For some of these construction projects, the SZHC project utilizes WFP’s Food Assistance for Asset Creation (FFA) programme.  Under the programme, participants receive much needed food – maize meal, beans and vegetable oil – in exchange for a specific amount of work. These construction projects coincide with the lean season where families often can struggle with food insecurity.

In Fufu village, beneficiaries excavate soil to build up the embankment for a rainwater catchment dam. Photo: WFP/Byungchul Lee

“Before the project started, our workforce was moving away to search for opportunities,” says Masud. “But now we’ve reached a point where people are coming here and looking for jobs.”

Programmes under the SZHC Project include bee and livestock keeping, brick-making, sesame cultivation and village savings and loan groups.

“By helping communities build their capacity and infrastructures while diversifying their income opportunities, SZHC Project reduces the community’s dependence on rain fed agriculture and builds resilience against the often harsh climatic conditions,” says Byungchul Lee, WFP Programme Officer.

Another focus of the project is to include women, who traditionally in Suli, are dependent on their husbands and fathers for their livelihood and are typically unable to own property.

One of the participants is Luja Doto, a 23 year old farmer’s wife and mother of three young daughters.

Luja Doto, a SZHC project beneficiary, has reinvested profits from her chicken project in raising goats and improving the education opportunities for her daughters. Photo © WFP/Byungchul Lee

Luja Doto, a SZHC project beneficiary, has used profits from her chicken project to invest in raising goats and improving the education opportunities for her daughters. Photo: WFP/Byungchul Lee

“If you had seen us before the project, we were poor and we were struggling. My husband had a few items, but I didn’t own anything,” says Luja. “Now, I have livestock, our home is full of utensils and dishes and we can afford clothes for our daughters to go to school.”

In less than a year after being provided with chicks as part of a women’s chicken keeping group, Luja now has over 30 full-grown fowl and has given 10 chicks to another woman in the village so that she can start her own chicken project.

“I was happy to give someone else chickens and the chance to change her life, just like the project did for me,” says Luja. “To grow as a community we need to work together.”

Luja, in addition to buying home supplies, has reinvested her profits in goats who have already started giving birth and providing additional income. Luja says her plan is to save up enough money to buy cows which will increase capital and help her ensure that she has enough money for the continued education of her daughters. [quote|“It’s all thanks to Korea and WFP. Our village is so different now. It feels like anything is possible.”]

“These days it feels like any trade you want to do, you can learn how to do it here,” says Masud. “You can’t control the weather, but that doesn’t mean you have to remain poor or that your children can’t be better off than you were.”

Other participants in the SZHC project have used their profits to upgrade the grass roofs of their houses or to buy draft animals and ploughs, further improving efficiency and income opportunities.

 “It’s all thanks to Korea and WFP,” says Luja. “Our village is so different now. It feels like anything is possible.”

SZHC income generating activities like Luja’s chicken group are implemented in partnership with Korean non-governmental organization Good Neighbours International. In total, the SZHC project helps fight hunger and build resilience for over 12,000 people throughout the three pilot villages. Photo: WFP/Byungchul Lee

In Tanzania, about 80 percent of the population depend on agriculture and often irregular rain patterns for their livelihood. The weather can be harsh and unpredictable with seasonal rain patterns being capable of resulting in damaging floods or multi-year droughts.

650493
10/18/2016 - 15:02

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timely assistance

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

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

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

The People of Japan

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

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

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

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

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

Perennial problem

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

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

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

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

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

650489
10/17/2016 - 17:00

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

650441
10/13/2016 - 11:01
Students And Teachers

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

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

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

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

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

Seeking Shelter

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

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

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

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

“The food from WFP, it is a gift”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

650428
10/12/2016 - 10:59
Cash and Vouchers

WFP monthly assistance to families is designed to encourage them to send their children to school regularly instead of sending them off to work at a young age. For vulnerable families, sending a child to school is an added economic burden. Families whose children's attendance rate is at least 80 percent each month, receive WFP food assistance to compensate for the income a child would have earned if sent to work. 

To give families better options, WFP is now assisting families through a new electronic voucher system. The vouchers are topped up every month and families use the vouchers at locally contracted retailers to buy groceries. The vouchers gives them the freedom to choose what they want according to their culinary preferences, needs and also convenience. They can make as many trips to the store as they need and are not tied to a certain time or limit except the value of the voucher.

Photo: WFP/ Yasmina ElHabbal

Families in Lower Egypt’s Beheira governorate, like Samia Awad’s, are accustoming themselves to WFP’s newly introduced electronic vouchers. Samia’s daughter Zahra has been attending the community school near their home for the past year. Previously, Zahra’s regular school attendance granted her family 10 kg of rice and one liter of oil every month. Now, she is able to choose from a list of food items in locally contracted retailers, such as cereals, lentils, dairy products, tuna and oil.They also give households 30 percent more food on average over the rations.

Photo: WFP/ Lobna Fatani

A father of five, Mohamed Abdel Latif is now able to go to a local retailer near his children’s school to redeem his voucher. With two children attending school, Mohamed’s voucher is topped up with EGP 200 (US$23) every month. He uses the voucher to get the various food items that his family needs.

Photo: WFP/ Lobna Fatani

The e-vouchers boost the local economy by injecting funds into the local market where vouchers get redeemed. After facing skepticism and reluctance from local retailers at the pilot phase of the project, more and more are now approaching WFP to join the project network.

Photo: WFP/ Yamina ElHabbal

WFP is implementing in Egypt school feeding in the majority of community schools in 18 of the most vulnerable governorates in the country. WFP also provides children with a daily healthy snack at school that covers 25 percent of a child’s daily nutritional needs. For some children, the school snack is the first thing they eat in any given day.

Photo: WFP/ Amina AlKorey

The electronic voucher system was first tested in June 2015 on a small scale in Lower Egypt’s Beheira and Upper Egypt’s Sohag governorates. It was an immediate success among families. More children were enrolling for the coming school year than ever before in most schools. Using EU funds, WFP scaled the programme up in May to reach almost 21,000 children and their families across six governorates.

Photo: WFP/ Lobna Fatani

In Egypt, students begin a new school year with their families already looking forward to WFP’s e-vouchers that were introduced last year. The vouchers replaced the traditional take-home monthly rations.
650463
10/12/2016 - 10:40
Climate Change

In Lango Baya village, 45 kilometres west of Malindi town in Kilifi County, the vast majority of people rely on agriculture to earn a living.  Crops are mostly rain-fed although a few people living close to the Galana River irrigate their crop.

“I earn around 1,000 Kenyan shillings (almost US$10) from the sale of vegetables every week,” said Kadzo Kazungu, a 32 year-old mother of five, whose family is completely reliant on farming for their food.

She was among the first people to join the World Food Programme’s asset creation activities in Kilifi back in 2009.  The asset creation activities focus on teaching farmers simple dry land farming methods to improve their production.  This includes irrigation, rainwater harvesting for crop and livestock production, pasture production, rehabilitation of degraded land, and increased production of drought-tolerant and high value cash crops. Currently, WFP is working with more than 800,000 people in over 1,500 communities spread across 15 counties of Kenya.   

Humble beginning

 “I’m very grateful to the WFP and Kenya Red Cross for giving us the opportunity to learn new farming methods that use very little water. We’ve received many trainings through the government’s agricultural officers,” explained Kadzo. “Before I could barely harvest enough to feed my family. Now I am selling the extra produce, all my children are going to school and we have enough to eat. I’m ready to leave the project and give somebody else the opportunity to benefit,” she said proudly.

Kadzo and her husband have saved enough money to buy a water pump. They pump water to their three quarter-acre piece of land where they grow maize, tomatoes, kale and eggplant. The couple makes some extra cash charging other farmers a fee for the use of the water pump.

Climate smart agriculture

In Msumarini, 30 kilometres north of Malindi, WFP is showcasing dryland farming methods that optimize the use of water by reducing the rate of evaporation and seepage such as zai pits, sunken beds, multi-storey gardens, and farm ponds. Farmers are also being shown how to make compost manure as a natural fertiliser

 “These farming methods are simple and easy to replicate,” said Fredrick Merie, a Programme Associate with WFP. “We are extremely encouraged to see families taking up the technologies and doing it in their individual farms.”

Not near a river? Not a problem

Farms in Msumarini are dependent on rain water. Using the different farm technologies and with quick maturing and drought tolerant crops, families are now producing enough for their food needs. Stalks from the harvest are either used as fodder or for producing compost manure, ensuring that the soil remains fertile.   

“Getting milk in my house was like a dream. On most days, my family would have only one meal a day and that would be at the expense of a tree as I was notorious for burning charcoal,” explained Abel Ndurya Menza, the Secretary of the Msumarini farmers’ group. “But that has all changed. Here, we are assured of some harvest even during the dry seasons.”

The group has used proceeds from the farm to buy galla goats, known for their milk and meat.

In it for the long term

WFP’s asset creation activities are based on an incentive providing food rations or cash in return for the hours worked on communal farms, such as demonstration plots.  However, most farmers are not participating in asset creation for the stipend.

“The benefits we get from this farm are far beyond the cash or food incentive,” said Abel Ndurya Menza. “This knowledge has transformed our attitude towards agriculture. We never thought that farming was possible in this parched region,” he added.

WFP is promoting farming methods across Kenya’s drylands to help families better cope with the effects of a changing climate. Farmers who initially had difficulties putting food on the table are now producing more than they need – with some harvesting a marketable surplus.

650451
10/11/2016 - 15:47
School Meals

The World Food Programme (WFP), in partnership with World Vision, is now increasing the impact of school meals thanks to a generous contribution of USD 25 million from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programme.

The new home grown school feeding programme involves schools buying food directly from local farmers and traders in the area.  The programme supports access to education while also stimulating local economic development (including agricultural production), increasing farmers’ income and creating additional jobs for a wide range of stakeholders involved in getting the food from the field to the classroom.  

This essential grant has enabled WFP to buy maize and beans locally, supporting 31 farmer organisations to increase their supply of food to schools and earn a living.  WFP is providing a daily hot lunch composed of maize, beans, vegetable oil and salt to 40,000 children in 49 schools in Nyamagabe and Nyaraguru in Southern Rwanda, while hot porridge made of highly nutritious fortified food is provided to 43,000 children in 55 schools in Rutsiro and Karongi in the West of the country.

Sylvania Nyiransabimana, 16, is studying at Sanza primary school in Karongi district. Her mother is a single parent, caring for her and her four siblings.  Sylvania had dropped out of school to help her mother earn money through casual labour work.  Thanks to the home-grown school feeding programme, she was able to re-join the school and is committed to continue school to achieve her dream of becoming a teacher.   

Everyone has a role to play

Through the home-grown school feeding approach, WFP intends to see schools graduate from external support to self-sustainability. Empowerment of the local community is key to ensure gradual ownership as the community becomes more resilient and self-reliant. Members of the community share responsibility of the school meals by providing firewood, water, utensils and working as volunteer cooks.  WFP works closely with the Government of Rwanda towards a nationally owned school feeding programme in 2020, and advocating for school feeding infrastructure to be included into national standards.  

The targeted districts of Nyamagabe, Nyaruguru, Rutsiro and Karongi were selected based on their high levels of food insecurity at the household level above 30 percent compared to 18 percent at the National level. School feeding is an important element of national social protection systems, and – along with other safety nets – an integral part of care for the most vulnerable. School feeding programmes motivate development by functioning as a safety net to help vulnerable households and communities survive difficult times and shocks without compromising their nutrition and food security. Educated and healthy people are better able to withstand shocks such as drought.  The school lunch accounts for more than half the attained recommended daily allowances of energy, protein, Vitamin A, iron, and iodine for about 40 percent of students, and  is often the largest meal of the day and in frequent cases the only meal.

Immediate Impact

Despite only starting in August this year, teachers are already crediting the home-grown school feeding programme for increased concentration in class and improved attendance rates.   Global studies have shown that children who receive extra years of schooling in addition to accessing proper nutrients will greatly increase their chances of employment and of earning more over their lifetime.

The government’s school feeding policy envisages a school feeding programme based on local purchase of commodities with a view to eventual nationwide implementation without external support.  Best practices and lessons learned from the project will be documented and used to support this vision. A sustainable school feeding programme that incorporates nutritious and diet diverse meals linked to smallholder farmer production is a key strategy for the achievement of the Zero Hunger Challenge and the SDGs.

 

In the poorest and most food insecure districts of Rwanda school meals are a lifeline for many families.  A daily school meal provides a strong incentive to send children to school and keep them there (especially girls), it helps to increase school enrollment and attendance, decrease drop-out rates, and improve learning.

650437
10/07/2016 - 13:58

DANIEL'S STORY: WFP and the Rice Bag

A WFP rice bag hanging on the wall of Luxembourg's foreign ministry where he worked was enough to develop Daniel Ham's interest in the agency and his wish to gain field experience in international development.

Five months later, he found himself supporting the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit at WFP's Regional Bureau for West Africa, under the JPO programme. 

Held Out for Job with WFP

"I'd already been offered a civil service job, but I was holding out to get the job with WFP instead," Daniel says. "So when I heard that I'd been offered the JPO position in Dakar I was thrilled."

After joining in October 2013, he went on missions to several West African countries to help with training, review preparedness measures for natural disasters and disease, and work on mock-emergencies. 

Then a real emergency struck that was unique and unprecedented for WFP – the Ebola outbreak – and Daniel headed to Sierra Leone to lead food distributions under the Emergency Operation.

Oversaw Efforts to Get Food to Sick People

"I was finally doing ‘real' WFP work on the front lines of an operation," he recalls. "The first time I was involved in a food distribution, I remember hearing an audible sigh of relief from people waiting for their rations when they saw the WFP trucks pull up."

But the scale and devastation of the crisis really hit home as he flew over a vast Red Cross treatment centre in eastern Sierra Leone: "Seeing the neat rows of graves of Ebola victims really struck a chord about the seriousness and complexity of the response."

Working as a Team Player

Colleagues praised his collaborative spirit. "He was awesome – we never wanted him to go," says Senior Programme Assistant Betty Cooper. "He was committed, hard-working, and his listening skills made him the best team player."

After spending two months in Sierra Leone, Daniel has now moved to WFP's New York office, where he is part of policy discussions with humanitarian partners and follows high-level talks among UN Member States on humanitarian access.

He hopes to continue working with WFP as a Programme Officer once his time as a JPO ends.

"It's been nearly three years since that empty rice bag in Luxembourg inspired me to work for WFP," Daniel adds. "The JPO programme has granted me so many rewarding opportunities."

FORTUNE'S STORY: Entering WFP Amidst Ebola Outbreak

Fortune Maduma clearly remembers his first days at WFP's Country Office in Sierra Leone. That was in November 2014, when the country was in full throes of the Ebola outbreak.

"I was afraid to go out, even to go shopping for food in the supermarket," he says of a time when there was widespread fear about Ebola's transmission.
So began Fortune's job as a Nutrition Officer, under the JPO programme.

 


Fortune Maduma. Photo: WFP/Anna Soper 

Opportunity to Save Lives

"It was an exciting opportunity to be part of a committed humanitarian organization that is dedicated to saving lives and preventing suffering," says Fortune.
"I already had experience working with NGOs in Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Uganda," he says. "I wanted to look at new opportunities to widen my skill set."

Fortune spoke daily by phone with his worried family, assuring them he was OK. He needed to remain positive, especially for his wife who was nursing their infant daughter in South Africa.

Hard Work is Rewarded

His hard work has seen him become WFP's Head of Nutrition in Sierra Leone. As WFP looks ahead to post-Ebola challenges, Fortune is putting in place a National Targeted Supplementary Feeding Programme, aimed at over 40,000 moderately malnourished children aged between 6 and 59 months.

"I want to strengthen WFP's role as a key nutrition partner," Fortune says. "I want WFP to take a leading role in helping the government fight child and maternal malnutrition."

Fortune has worked with partners to extend nutritional support for HIV and Tuberculosis patients. He also plans to resume WFP's treatment of malnutrition for pregnant and nursing mothers in Sierra Leone. 

"Sierra Leone has improved the nutritional statistics for women and children in recent years," Fortune says, "I want to ensure the Ebola outbreak does not reverse that."

More than 50 Junior Professional Officers play a vital role in helping WFP carry out its work across the world, and since the Ebola emergency struck in West Africa two of these colleagues have played vital roles in helping Sierra Leone's people and aiding the recovery process. Here, Daniel Ham of Luxembourg and Fortune Maduma of Zimbabwe tell their stories and we see how their skills have seen them taking on increased responsibility. 

650436
10/07/2016 - 13:58

DANIEL'S STORY: WFP and the Rice Bag

A WFP rice bag hanging on the wall of Luxembourg's foreign ministry where he worked was enough to develop Daniel Ham's interest in the agency and his wish to gain field experience in international development.

Five months later, he found himself supporting the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit at WFP's Regional Bureau for West Africa, under the JPO programme. 

Held Out for Job with WFP

"I'd already been offered a civil service job, but I was holding out to get the job with WFP instead," Daniel says. "So when I heard that I'd been offered the JPO position in Dakar I was thrilled."

After joining in October 2013, he went on missions to several West African countries to help with training, review preparedness measures for natural disasters and disease, and work on mock-emergencies. 

Then a real emergency struck that was unique and unprecedented for WFP – the Ebola outbreak – and Daniel headed to Sierra Leone to lead food distributions under the Emergency Operation.

Oversaw Efforts to Get Food to Sick People

"I was finally doing ‘real' WFP work on the front lines of an operation," he recalls. "The first time I was involved in a food distribution, I remember hearing an audible sigh of relief from people waiting for their rations when they saw the WFP trucks pull up."

But the scale and devastation of the crisis really hit home as he flew over a vast Red Cross treatment centre in eastern Sierra Leone: "Seeing the neat rows of graves of Ebola victims really struck a chord about the seriousness and complexity of the response."

Working as a Team Player

Colleagues praised his collaborative spirit. "He was awesome – we never wanted him to go," says Senior Programme Assistant Betty Cooper. "He was committed, hard-working, and his listening skills made him the best team player."

After spending two months in Sierra Leone, Daniel has now moved to WFP's New York office, where he is part of policy discussions with humanitarian partners and follows high-level talks among UN Member States on humanitarian access.

He hopes to continue working with WFP as a Programme Officer once his time as a JPO ends.

"It's been nearly three years since that empty rice bag in Luxembourg inspired me to work for WFP," Daniel adds. "The JPO programme has granted me so many rewarding opportunities."

FORTUNE'S STORY: Entering WFP Amidst Ebola Outbreak

Fortune Maduma clearly remembers his first days at WFP's Country Office in Sierra Leone. That was in November 2014, when the country was in full throes of the Ebola outbreak.

"I was afraid to go out, even to go shopping for food in the supermarket," he says of a time when there was widespread fear about Ebola's transmission.
So began Fortune's job as a Nutrition Officer, under the JPO programme.

Fortune Maduma. Photo: WFP/Anna Soper 

 

Opportunity to Save Lives

"It was an exciting opportunity to be part of a committed humanitarian organization that is dedicated to saving lives and preventing suffering," says Fortune.
"I already had experience working with NGOs in Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Uganda," he says. "I wanted to look at new opportunities to widen my skill set."

Fortune spoke daily by phone with his worried family, assuring them he was OK. He needed to remain positive, especially for his wife who was nursing their infant daughter in South Africa.

Hard Work is Rewarded

His hard work has seen him become WFP's Head of Nutrition in Sierra Leone. As WFP looks ahead to post-Ebola challenges, Fortune is putting in place a National Targeted Supplementary Feeding Programme, aimed at over 40,000 moderately malnourished children aged between 6 and 59 months.

"I want to strengthen WFP's role as a key nutrition partner," Fortune says. "I want WFP to take a leading role in helping the government fight child and maternal malnutrition."

Fortune has worked with partners to extend nutritional support for HIV and Tuberculosis patients. He also plans to resume WFP's treatment of malnutrition for pregnant and nursing mothers in Sierra Leone. 

"Sierra Leone has improved the nutritional statistics for women and children in recent years," Fortune says, "I want to ensure the Ebola outbreak does not reverse that."

More than 50 Junior Professional Officers play a vital role in helping WFP carry out its work across the world, and since the Ebola emergency struck in West Africa two of these colleagues have played vital roles in helping Sierra Leone's people and aiding the recovery process. Here, Daniel Ham of Luxembourg and Fortune Maduma of Zimbabwe tell their stories and we see how their skills have seen them taking on increased responsibility. 

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10/07/2016 - 13:10
Responding to Emergencies

Juba – On a cloudy September morning in Juba, Martha Nyanhor waits patiently for her turn to receive food items at a distribution point for people sheltering at a UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Juba. She looks thoughtful, her gaze is distant as if unaware of the noise and commotion around her as people move bags of cereal, sacks of yellow split peas, and tins of vegetable oil. 

“I am thinking about how long this will last,” says the mother of six children. “How long we will live this life where we continue to receive food and pinch it so that we all eat to our fill.” 

Nyanhor and her children have been living in the PoC since December 2013, when she packed a few belongings and fled to safety as civil conflict unfolded in Juba and spread across South Sudan.  They are among more than 37,000 people living in the camp, including thousands who recently sought protection there when fighting erupted again in Juba in July 2016.

“We were worried about where food would come from when we heard that the food in the stores had been stolen,” says Nyanhor. 

Fighting and the looting of WFP’s main warehouse in Juba in July have presented enormous obstacles that temporarily disrupted the regular food distribution schedule at the two PoC sites in Juba.  Following a population count and registration exercise conducted by humanitarian partners, WFP has been able to restart distributions with food that was brought to Juba in the weeks following the looting.

Seeking safety

The residents of the PoC depend on such assistance to meet their basic food needs. Many say they feel unsafe if they step out of the camps and welcomed the continued provision of food assistance by WFP and its partners through funding by several donors, including the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO), to WFP’s Emergency Operation in South Sudan. 

“I am stuck in this camp.  If I have to go out to buy food for my family I may be harassed and assaulted by soldiers out there. Some women have even been raped,” says Nyanhor.    

“I am pleading with the UN and WFP and the people who give you the money to continue helping us while we stay here because we don’t have any other way of obtaining food,” she adds. 

As dark clouds continued to gather over the Juba skyline, a relative urges Nyanhor to hurry up. She steps forward, shows her card, and collects a white sack of sorghum, a blue and white stripped plastic bag containing yellow split peas, and a container of cooking oil. 

'I hope by God's grace this will end.'

A few drops of rain hit the earth as Nyanhor readies herself to take the food home with the help of two of her children and a relative. She is still not smiling but her face looks relaxed now.  

 “I don’t want to stay in this camp. It is the problems of our country that make me stay here, and I hope by God’s grace this will end.” 

With the support of donors such as ECHO, WFP has continued providing regular food rations to 1.6 million people affected by the conflict in South Sudan including those sheltering in the PoCs since 2013.  A recent ECHO contribution of € 20 Million (US$ 22 million) was used to buy food for people living in the PoCs and affected by fighting in the Greater Upper Nile region.

When fighting erupted in July in Juba, looters ransancked and stole all the food in the main WFP warehouse in the South Sudanese capital. This disrupted food assistance to hundreds of thousands of people in the country, and particularly the more than 30,000 people sheltering in UN Peacekeeping bases in the city. Most of the people who rely on this assistance were very concerned about their survival, and appealed to aid agencies and their donors to continue support. It was a great relief to most women in the camps when WFP re-started full assistance in September.