Helping people safely prepare and consume the food WFP provides

To achieve Zero Hunger, the delivery of food assistance  cannot be separated from the numerous safety, health, and environmental risks associated with properly cooking it. Through the provision of fuel-efficient stoves and livelihood opportunities, WFP’s SAFE initiative addresses the dangers people face when collecting and using firewood.  WFP aims to provide safe energy and cooking to 10 million people by 2020. 

Safety, Health and Environmental Risks

Every day millions of women and children face serious challenges while they search for the firewood they need to prepare their food: 

  • In humanitarian settings where resources are scarce, many women and girls spend hours travelling long distances to collect firewood, putting themselves at risk of attack and sexual violence.
  • Every year 4.3 million people die from health problems related to exposure to smoke from solid fuel stoves. Today, more than 3 billion people cook and heat their homes using open fires and simple stoves. Women and children are especially susceptible to the harmful consequences of indoor pollution since they spend the most amount of time near the cooking area.
  • Vulnerable populations often undercook or sell food just to buy or save on firewood, jeopardising their nutrition. 
  • The dependence on firewood, charcoal and agricultural wastes to prepare meals puts considerable pressure on the safety of families, as well as the environment, contributing to degradation and deforestation. This in turn increases people's vulnerability to climate change, as they are more exposed to climate risks, such as floods and droughts–more frequent and intense under a changing climate.

About SAFE

Access to cooking fuel plays a crucial role in helping food insecure, crisis-affected populations. Safe access to cooking fuel is a protection issue closely related to WFP’s food assistance mandate. WFP recognizes that the delivery of food assistance cannot be separated from the numerous safety, health, and environmental risks associated with properly cooking this food.  Through SAFE, WFP works with food insecure people to support their long-term food security and sustainable livelihoods.

How Do We Help?

WFP’s SAFE initiative adopts a multi-faceted approach to meet the energy needs of displaced people worldwide through sustainable energy-related activities, protecting both people and the environment. We focus on reducing people’s exposure to gender-based violence, nutrition and health threats, and where possible building resilience and long-term food security working towards the following objectives: 

•    Safety: Reduce possible violence towards women and children who are collecting firewood by providing alternative fuel sources and reducing the amount of time needed to collect the firewood;
•    Health: Minimise indoor air pollution through education and the use of fuel-efficient cookstoves; 
•    Environment: Mitigate negative environmental impact  of deforestation due to firewood collection, as well as from cookstoves emissions, by promoting fuel-efficient stoves;
•    Self-sufficiency: Create alternative livelihood opportunities by educating women and vulnerable communities in building fuel-efficient cookstoves and other income-generating activities. 

SAFE Activities

The success of SAFE relies on combining different activities to comprehensively address the challenges related cooking fuel access:

•    Provision or production by beneficiaries of fuel-efficient stoves and alternative sources of cooking fuel for WFP-assisted households and schools; 
•    Investing in sustainable natural resources, such as planting tree seedlings, nursery management and climate change mitigation projects; 
•    Activities introducing alternative livelihood options; and 
•   Technical training and gender-based violence sensitisation.

SAFE Impact To Date

In 2009 WFP committed to reach six million displaced persons through a combination of activities addressing the issues WFP beneficiaries face when cooking. By 2014, WFP’s SAFE programmes had reached more than 2.8 million people in countries such as Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Uganda. Between 2016 and 2020, WFP is aiming to scale up such SAFE programmes and also reach additional countries with cooking energy access concerns, in keeping with our goal of reaching 10 million people by 2020.

In November 2014, WFP committed to reaching 10 million beneficiaries by 2020. Read the news release.

SAFE Steering Committee

WFP is a leading member of the SAFE Steering Committee, a consortium of humanitarian agencies and NGOs whose mission is to facilitate a more coordinated, predictable, timely, and effective response to the fuel and energy needs of crisis-affected populations.

SAFE Photo Gallery: 10 Million Beneficiaries by 2020