He World Food Program (PMA) has been awarded the Award Nobel Peace Prize 2020. But what is this program about? Then, five key ideas to find out what WFP is and how it works.
WFP is a powerful organization that has been operating in areas devastated by natural disasters or armed conflicts for almost six decades with the aim of delivering emergency aid to populations without resources. It was created in 1962 at the request of the president Dwight Eisenhower (USA) to provide the then newly created UN from a food agency. As an anonymous WFP official explains: “The organization was born out of the desire of the US government to support its domestic agriculture by purchasing agricultural surpluses in the United States and distributing them in developing countries.” That is to say, take advantage of the surpluses of the most developed countries to distribute them around the world.
In 1963, when WFP had not been in operation for even a year, an earthquake struck north of Iran and killed 12,000 people. Then the first WFP school feeding project was launched. But it was not until 1965 that the organization was fully integrated into the United Nations.
Vital help for millions of people
At least 1.1 million women and children under 5 years receive nutritional support from WFP every month. The countries in which the program has more presence are: Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, South Sudan and in states affected by the Boko Haram insurrection in Nigeria. But, according to the official website of the organization, their response in yemen It is the largest in the world and ensures that about 10 million Yemenis “are in acute food insecurity situation“.
WFP chartered the equivalent of 5,600 trucks, 30 ships, and nearly 100 aircraft every day, typically through Engés and private carriers. At the local level in some countries, the program even uses donkey transport to reach the most remote areas.
From food to monetary transactions
Throughout its almost 60-year history, WFP has shown great sophistication in its means of action, adapting to changing times.
Their first missions consisted, above all, of carrying food from one point to another. Today, WFP operates through food, educational and nutritional programs. That is, it distributes the collected funds to make optimal use of them by distributing purchase vouchers and cash sums. In addition, their role in educating populations to adopt good nutrition is essential.
“Before we gave calories and now we emphasize particular needs such as pregnant or lactating women. This happens through local education. If there are poorly nourished children, this is due both to the lack of access to food and prevention, hand washing, etc “, explained this official to the AFP agency.
WFP focuses on emergency help, in reconstruction and in development aid. This means that two thirds of their work is carried out in conflict zones.
The Program, which employs 17,000 people, works closely with two other UN agencies based in Rome: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (FIDA).
WFP is fully funded through donations, the majority coming from the member states. In 2019, it raised $ 8 billion to continue its work. Without this Program, the funds provided would have to go through countless NGOs and that would make coordination and guarantee of response extremely difficult.
The hunger pandemic
The number of acutely food insecure people in the world has increased by almost 70% in the last four years, and the economic crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic could lead to a “hunger pandemic” especially in South America and the West, South and Central Africa, warns the WFP.
More than 821 million people in the world suffer from chronic hunger and another 135 million live with hunger or with critical deficiencies in their diet, to which 130 million people could be added due to the health crisis of the past months.
WFP Geneva spokesperson Tomson Phiri said they urgently need “additional support to donors, who, of course, are themselves under great stress from the impact of the pandemic in their own countries. . “