World Food Programme

"WFP" redirects here. For other uses, see WFP (disambiguation).
World Food Programme
World Food Programme

WFP Headquarters in Rome
Abbreviation WFP, PAM
Formation 1961
Type UN Humanitarian Programme
Legal status Active
Headquarters Rome, Italy
Ertharin Cousin

The World Food Programme (WFP; French: Programme Alimentaire Mondial; Italian: Programma Alimentare Mondiale; Spanish: Programa Mundial de Alimentos; Arabic: برنامج الأغذية العالمي, barnamaj al'aghdhiat alealami; Russian: Всемирная продовольственная программа, Vsemirnaya prodovol'stvennaya programmaa; Chinese: 联合国世界粮食计划署, Liánhéguó shìjiè liángshí jìhuà shǔ) is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.[1] According to the WFP, it provides food assistance to an average of 80 million people in 75 countries each year.[2] From its headquarters in Rome and more than 80 country offices around the world, the WFP works to help people who are unable to produce or obtain enough food for themselves and their families. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive Committee.[3]


A 2009 Russian stamp featuring the WFP logo.

WFP was first established in 1961[4] after the 1960 Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Conference, when George McGovern, director of the US Food for Peace Programmes, proposed establishing a multilateral food aid programme. The WFP was formally established in 1963 by the FAO and the United Nations General Assembly on a three-year experimental basis. In 1965, the programme was extended to a continuing basis.


The WFP is governed by an Executive Board which consists of representatives from 36 member states. Ertharin Cousin is the current Executive Director, appointed jointly by the UN Secretary General and the Director-General of the FAO for a five-year term. She heads the Secretariat of the WFP. The European Union is a permanent observer in the WFP and, as a major donor, participates in the work of its Executive Board.[5]

Its vision is a "world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life."

The WFP has a staff of about 11,500 people, the majority of whom work in remote areas.

Goals and strategies

United Nations C-130 Hercules transports deliver food to the Rumbak region of Sudan.
A WFP armored vehicle.

The WFP strives to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, with the ultimate goal in mind of eliminating the need for food aid itself.

The objectives that the WFP hopes to achieve are to:[6]

  1. "Save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies"
  2. "Support food security and nutrition and (re)build livelihoods in fragile settings and following emergencies"
  3. "Reduce risk and enable people, communities and countries to meet their own food and nutrition needs"
  4. "Reduce undernutrition and break the intergenerational cycle of hunger"

WFP food aid is also directed to fight micronutrient deficiencies, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat disease, including HIV and AIDS. Food-for-work programmes help promote environmental and economic stability and agricultural production.


In 2013, the WFP reached 80.9 million people in 75 countries and provided 3.1 million tonnes of food,[7] including nutritionally improved products such as Plumpy'sup, Plumpy'doz, and Supercereal Plus.[8] 7.8 million malnourished children received special nutritional support in 2013, and 18.6 million children received school meals or take-home rations.

The WFP has scaled up its use of cash and vouchers as food assistance tools. 7.9 million people received assistance through cash or voucher programmes in 2013. In the same year, the WFP purchased food in 91 countries; 86 percent of that food came from developing countries.[9]

Among its other activities, the WFP has coordinated the five-year Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot project. Launched in September 2008, P4P assists smallholder farmers by offering them opportunities to access agricultural markets and to become competitive players in the market place. The project spanned across 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and trained 800,000 farmers in improved agricultural production, post-harvest handling, quality assurance, group marketing, agricultural finance and contracting with the WFP. The project resulted in 366,000 metric tons of food produced and generated more than $148 million in income for its smallholder farmers.[10]

The WFP focuses its food assistance on those who are most vulnerable to hunger, which most frequently means women, children, the sick and the elderly. In fact, part of the response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake consisted of distributing food aid only to women as experience built up over almost 5 decades of working in emergency situations has demonstrated that giving food only to women helps to ensure that it is spread evenly among all household members. School-feeding and/or take-home ration programmes in 71 countries help students focus on their studies and encourage parents to send their children, especially girls, to school.


The WFP operations are funded by voluntary donations from world governments, corporations and private donors. The organization's administrative costs are only seven percent—one of the lowest and best among aid agencies. In 2011, the WFP's total revenue was $3.73 billion. From 2008-2012, private donors donated around $500 million.


A member of FITTEST in Port au Prince during the emergency response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The Fast Information Technology and Telecommunications Emergency and Support Team (FITTEST) is a small, elite, technical team of emergency responders within the IT division of the World Food Programme (WFP). Covering both emergency preparedness and response, FITTEST provides a range of IT, telecommunications and power generation infrastructures and solutions to support humanitarian aid operations during emergencies and in steady-state situations.

Humanitarian emergencies demand rapid interventions that are efficient, coordinated and effective. FITTEST is trained to work in demanding, hazardous and hostile environments and ensures staff are on the ground and ready to operate within 48 hours. To date, FITTEST has completed more than 1,000 missions in over 130 countries, including West Africa, the Philippines, Haiti, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Iraq, Syria and, more recently, Nepal and Yemen. From natural disasters such as earthquakes and tropical cyclones, public health emergencies, such as the Ebola outbreak, to conflict and civil unrest, FITTEST provides lifesaving IT, telecommunications and power services to governments and the humanitarian community. With a team comprising just 15 to 25 responders at any given time, FITTEST team members hail from more than 10 nationalities from all six continents.

The team

FITTEST Warehouse in Dubai

FITTEST’s key areas of expertise include telecommunications (radio, wireless & microwave, satellite), IT (hardware / infrastructure, software, Internet, email) and electricity (power generation, wiring, and renewable and hybrid energy systems, such as solar power and wind turbines). The team also offers training and consultancy services. In preparation for future emergencies, the team holds virtual stock of equipment allowing pre-determined items to be available at a moment’s notice. FITTEST offices and warehouses are located in Dubai’s International Humanitarian City in the United Arab Emirates. From here the team develops technological solutions and delivers its services across the world.


FITTEST developed from the African Great Lakes humanitarian emergency in 1995. In 1998, it became an official tool for WFP to respond to emergencies. With the establishment of the United Nations Cluster system by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, and especially the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, FITTEST became a critical tool for WFP to fulfil its mandate of providing IT services to the entire humanitarian community. FITTEST is a unique cell within the United Nations system as it operates on a cost-recovery basis. Receiving no direct contribution from Governments or other humanitarian donors, FITTEST ensures its sustainability by using best practices of the private sector. The team operates on a limited margin (7%) used to cover running costs. Such a method ensures the delivery of high service quality, as FITTEST only survives if its 'clients' are satisfied and continue to utilise its services.

Official partners

The WFP coordinates and cooperates with a number of official partners in emergencies and development projects. These partners include national government agencies such as DFID, ECHO, EuropeAid, USAID; UN agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); non-governmental organizations such as Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services and Norwegian Refugee Council; as well as corporate partners such as Boston Consulting Group, Yum! Brands, DSM N.V., and Cargill.[11]

WFP is also a partner in Compact2025, a partnership that develops and disseminates evidence-based advice to politicians and other decision-makers aimed at ending hunger and undernutrition in the coming 10 years. WFP is represented on the Leadership Council of Compact2025 by its Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.[12]

Actor Drew Barrymore is Ambassador to the World Food Program and donated $1 million in 2008.[13]

Grassroots level partners include

World Hunger Relief Week

In 2007, the WFP joined with Yum! Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company, to launch the first annual World Hunger Relief Week, a global campaign to increase awareness about hunger, engage volunteers, and raise critically needed funds to help the WFP serve the world's areas of greatest need. World Hunger Relief Week 2007 leveraged the power of nearly 35,000 restaurants around the world, sparking a global movement to end hunger and generating an overwhelming outpouring of support from millions of customers, employees, franchisees and their families. Nearly one million Yum!, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver's and A&W All American Food employees, franchisees and their families volunteered close to 4 million hours to aid hunger relief efforts in communities worldwide, while helping to raise $16 million throughout the World Hunger Relief Week initiative for the World Food Programme and other hunger relief agencies around the world. The initiative has been repeated every year since.

Grassroots efforts

In 2004, the WFP tasked Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama with heading the first student-led War on Hunger effort, after a 2002 Northwestern University pilot. Auburn founded the Committee of 19, which has not only led campus and community hunger awareness events but also developed a War on Hunger model for use on campuses across the country.

The WFP has launched a global advocacy and fundraising event called Walk the World. On one single day each year, hundreds of thousands of people in every time zone all over the world walk to call for the end of child hunger. In 2005, more than 200,000 people walked in 296 locations. In 2006, there were 760,000 participants in 118 countries all over the world. This event is part of the campaign to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, specifically to halve the number of people who suffer from hunger and poverty by 2015.

A growing number of grassroots global events and celebrations such as International Day of Peace, World Party Day participants, and Peace One Day recommend the WFP on radio broadcasts as an immediate reach out action, putting help within reach of anyone with the information that a quarter feeds a child for a day. Fill the Cup campaign takes just 25 US cents to fill one of the "red cups" that the World Food Programme uses to give hungry children a regular school meal of porridge, rice or beans.[14][15][16] Christina Aguilera, Drew Barrymore and Sean Penn are among notable celebrities who endorse the WFP.[17][18] The British singer Sami Yusuf joined with the WFP to support the drought-stricken in Horn of Africa[19] through his personal campaign, LiveFeedAfrica[20] and music video, Forgotten Promises.[21]

World Food Program USA

World Food Program USA, formerly Friends of WFP, works to solve global hunger, building a world where everyone has the food and nutrition needed to lead healthy, productive lives. WFP USA raises support for these efforts in the United States by engaging individuals, organizations and businesses, shaping public policy and generating resources for WFP.[22]


Kenyan economist James Shikwati says in an interview with Der Spiegel: "aid to Africa does more harm than good".[23] According to him, the food aid increases corruption as local politicians have the opportunity to steal some of the aid to bribe voters or to sell the aid in the black markets killing the local agriculture.[24] He claims that the WFP people as an organisation "are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated". He suggests that WFP answers too easily to the calls of the corrupted governments, and supplies too much of food aid leading to reduction of the production of local farmers as "no one can compete with the UN's World Food Program".

The World Food Program was also criticized by Jose Ciro Martinez and Brent Eng in their essay "The Unintended Consequences of Emergency Food Aid: Neutrality, Sovereignty and Politics in the Syrian Civil War, 2012-15." due to an interview conducted with an employee of the organization who stated: “‘Most aid is still subject to strict control measures by the government, who also requests that it be distributed through state approved bodies such as SARC. I believe the government closely oversees if not completely controls these organizations.”” This statement was expanded upon by the authors as they noted that food aid given in Syria would go to the military and its men first.[25]

List of executive directors

The following is a chronological list of those who have held the Executive Director of the World Food Programme position:[26]

  1. Addeke Hendrik Boerma (May 1962 - December 1967)
  2. Sushil K. Dev (acting) (January 1968 - August 1968)
  3. Franciso Aquino (July 1968 - May 1976)
  4. Thomas C. M. Robinson (May 1976 - June 1977 acting; July 1977 - September 1977)
  5. Garson N. Vogel (October 1977 - April 1981)
  6. Bernardo de Azevedo Brito (acting) (May 1981 - February 1982)
  7. Juan Felipe Yriart (acting) (February 1982 - April 1982)
  8. James Ingram (April 1982 – April 1992)
  9. Catherine Bertini (April 1992 – April 2002)
  10. James T. Morris (April 2002 – April 2007)
  11. Josette Sheeran (April 2007 – April 2012)
  12. Ertharin Cousin (April 2012 – present)

See also


  1. WFP. "Mission Statement". WFP. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  2. About WFP. Retrieved 2015-04-08
  3. Executive Committee. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  4. "About". World Food Program. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
  5. "European Union". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  6. WFP. "Our Work". WFP. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
  7. The World Food Programme's Achievements in 2013. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  8. Special Nutritional Products. World Food Programme. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  9. All about the World Food Programme. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  10. Purchase for Progress: Reflections on the pilot, February 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-08.
  11. "WFP's Partners". World Food Programme. Retrieved 2014-07-27.
  12. "Leadership Council". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  13. "Drew Barrymore, actress". World Food Programme. Retrieved 22 February 2013.
  14. Fill the cup: turning hunger into hope for millions of children. Retrieved on 2015-04-08.
  15. How To Help. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  16. Grassroots International. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  17. Drew Barrymore on CNN about WFP, YouTube video
  18. Christina Aguilera – A Voice for the Hungry | WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide. WFP. Retrieved on 2012-01-15.
  19. "Singer Sami Yusuf And WFP Join In Support For Drought-Stricken Horn Of Africa". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  20. "LIVE FEED: Help the Horn of Africa with Sami Yusuf and WFP". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  21. Sami Yusuf - Forgotten Promises. 31 January 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2016 via YouTube.
  22. "World Food Program USA". World Food Program USA. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  23. SPIEGEL ONLINE; Hamburg; Germany (3 July 2005). "SPIEGEL Interview with African Economics Expert: "For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!"". SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  24. "Removed: news agency feed article". the Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  25. 1 2 Martinez, Eng, Jose, Brent (2015). ""The Unintended Consequences of Emergency Food Aid: Neutrality, Sovereignty and Politics in the Syrian Civil War, 2012-15."" (PDF).
  26. "Previous WFP Executive Directors". World Food Programme. Retrieved 2012-04-16.

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