Desert, swamp or jungle, to get food to the hungry, WFP's logistics team has to negotiate some of the toughest terrain on the planet.

On average, WFP reaches more than 80 million people with food assistance in 75 countries each year.

When the areas needing food are not accessible by road, rail or river, other methods are brought into play. An emergency may require a cargo drop from aircraft or a helicopter airlift, but there are other options too. Locally engaged porters, as well as teams of elephants, yak, donkeys and camels are also used when necessary. 

Always on the move

On any given day WFP operates an average of:

  • 70 aircraft
  • 20 ships
  • 5,000 trucks

The different ways WFP transports food can be grouped into three categories: surface transport, shipping and aviation

Rapid response

About half the food distributed by WFP is sourced directly within the country or region where it is needed. The other half, sourced internationally, is shipped by sea and unloaded in more than 70 ports around the world.

Thanks to a range of strategies, WFP is always able to provide a rapid response to hunger emergencies. A key element in this response is the WFP-managed network of UN Humanitarian Response Depots. These are hubs, positioned near disaster-prone areas around the world, where emergency supplies are stored in readiness.

Serving the humanitarian community

WFP's expertise in logistics meant that in 2005 the agency was mandated to lead logistics operations whenever a humanitarian emergency requires a joint response from UN agencies and the humanitarian community. The group of agencies or organisations which work together is called the Logistics Cluster.

WFP also provides passenger air transport to the entire humanitarian community through the UN Humanitarian Air Service (see video on right), which goes to more than 250 locations worldwide.

Key Logistics Documents

Logistics Latest

Russia’s Kamaz Trucks Donated To Support WFP Operations In DRC

The Government of the Russian Federation has donated 30 KAMAZ trucks to the World Food Programme of the United Nations (WFP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to facilitate food deliveries and distributions to vulnerable people and the provision of services to humanitarian partners in hard-to-reach and crisis-hit areas.

Logistic Supervision at the Prinzapolka River

Logistic Supervision at the Prinzapolka River

The river weaves while the motorboats advance with their heavy loads consisting of bags and boxes of food that follow a long journey to 37 indigenous communities in one of the most remote areas of Nicaragua: Prinzapolka.

Why I Gave Up My Job As A Major Company Boss To Volunteer For WFP

Why I Gave Up My Job As A Major Company Boss To Volunteer For WFP

What motivated the Managing Director of one of the Southern Hemisphere's largest logistics and agricultural organizations to give up his job and volunteer for WFP? As he completes a three-and-a-half year assignment with WFP, based mostly in Uganda, Simon Costa explains why he made such a drastic change, which involved being away from his family for three-and-a-half years, and how his work helped to produce unprecedented results in tackling food losses in Uganda.