For the hungry, every day is about finding enough food to survive: poor farmers cannot afford to risk experimenting with new agricultural methods, when they can barely subsist on a small patch of land. The unemployed don't have a chance to learn new skills if they spend all day scraping a living on the black market. Poverty-stricken communities hit by floods or droughts are too busy looking for food to rebuild infrastructure vital for redevelopment.
Providing food in exchange for work makes it possible for the poor and hungry to devote time and energy to taking the first steps out of the hunger trap. This is the goal of WFP's food-for-assets projects.
Community members are given food in exchange for work on vital new infrastructure or for time spent learning new skills that will increase the food security of households or communities.
- Irrigation, terracing, soil and water conservation. In countries where drought regularly causes food shortages, irrigation can boost crop yields by 100-400%.
- In war-torn countries, WFP offers food assistance as an incentive for ex-combatants to abandon weapons and learn new skills, which are vital to smooth their path back into society.
- Poverty often forces farmers to overuse soil and grazing land. The result is barren land and accelerating desertification. WFP provides food rations to farmers who practice soil conservation by planting trees.
- To help communities develop, WFP sometimes helps people in villages to build new schools. They receive food, so they can devote time to the building work without worry about losing income.
- WFP helps people set up home gardening businesses by giving them food assistance as they train. This means later they have a livelihood with which to support themselves.