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Our associates over at the Logistics Cluster's GIS Unit just sent us the following news item regarding their newly released Spatial Data Infrastructure for Transport (SDI-T) Geoportal. We thought important enough that we decided to share with you. In order to provide you with a little background information we thought we should include the following: The World Food Programme (as the Global lead of the Logistic Cluster) is mandated to act as custodian of logistics and transport data standards on behalf of the humanitarian community. The Spatial Data Infrastructure for Transport (SDI-T) is part of the corporate World Food Programme Spatial Data Infrastructure (WFP-SDI) a geospatial database project aimed at providing the humanitarian community with standardized spatial data framework for all themes related to logistics and transport. Without further ado here is the full brief (Please note that the GeoPortal is in test phase and currently not available for public use.): The GIS Unit of the Global Logistics Cluster Support Cell in Rome, will now be hosting, administrating and developing the SDI-T GeoPortal. The system is based on a prototype developed by a student, Peter Singler, at University of Bonn during his master thesis, together with the Global Logistics Cluster. WHAT IS SDI-T GEOPORTAL? Based on the latest open source web technologies, the SDI-T GeoPortal is a web mapping platform providing SDI-T related tools, including GIS functionality, for Logistics Cluster participants in the field. As it is a web based platform worldwide access can be provided through the internet. Tools categories: visualization of the SDI-T database easy and direct editing of SDI-T database attributes routing functionality for different vehicle types (trial only on Africa) definition of avoid areas (disaster or security related) easy map export of interesting areas THE BENEFIT OF SDI-T GEOPORTAL All GIS field staff are now able to update the database directly and easily. The new data will be available for all logisticians immediately. This improves the workflow of collecting, updating and sharing, the latest relevant data. The routing functionality supports different types of vehicles and recognizes various road related attributes. This turned out to be a good tool to be a part of the planning and coordinating process of auxiliary feeding systems. The whole system is built on OpenSource software packages, which can be extended individually and does not have licence costs. Special thanks to Christophe Bois, Peter Singler, the GIS team and Logistics Cluster for the story!
Following last week's post covering green technologies currently being considered by WFP Shipping we bring you an update on some new advances in the Shipping department. If you remember, in our green tech story we wrote that, "GPS tracking allows shipping lines to better plot the location of their ships and more accurately time the arrival of their vessels in port. Better timing means fewer bottlenecks in busy ports and less time spent idling, which is a major contributor to unnecessary emissions while in port." Shipping is proud to announce that they just completed first phase roll out of their new real time vessel tracking application. Built using the same system currently in use by other units in WFP, the Shipping unit can now monitor a number of vessels in real time thus allowing for increased fuel efficiency, decreased port congestion and improved security. WFP Shipping can now visualize real time data using both Google Earth and custom maps. The real advantage of using this system is that during an emergency the unit can now quickly and easily visualize the location of all vessels and immediately make a decision about which would be the best vessel to redirect based on cargo. Rather than dispatch an entirely new shipment, an vessel in the region can be redirected and dispatch its cargo in a matter of days as opposed to the weeks it would take to send a new vessel. By scrolling over each ship the Shipping unit can also immediately visualize all data relevant to that vessel in a scrolling text box which is visible in the screenshot above. Vessel name, coordinates, bearing, speed and other key data are all visible to the operator of the system. In future versions the unit is hoping to also include cargo type, volume, origin and other relevant information about the food onboard so that decisions can made quickly and effortlessly about the suitability of the cargo for a redirect. Precise data can still be extracted for a quick overview of vessel specifics. Information is sent directly from the shipping line to the service for the duration of the charter. Once the charter concludes data is no longer made available to the unit security reasons. WFP Shipping's Stephen Cahill says that the new system is extremely useful and that the added oversight is a welcome addition to their growing suite of technologies. In July we wrote about their new GT Nexus cargo tracking software which gives them the ability to track all 55,000 containers as they move through ports around the world. With a few clicks of a mouse the shipping team can work more efficiently, save costs, reduce fuel consumption and rapidly respond to new emergencies.
In order to focus attention on the UN's Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen we have decided to focus on the top ten trends and technologies in shipping for our latest post. Significant advances in shipping technology have made this sector one of the main innovators in carbon emission reduction technologies. We asked Stephen Cahill of WFP Shipping to sit with us and discuss the top technologies and trends. WFP Shipping is the world's largest humanitarian logistics operator and is a heavy user of shipping services. We move over 2 million metric tonnes of food annually on 1,800 shipments to ports around the world. Here is what Stephen had to tell us: 1) Slow steaming - Perhaps the most important trend in shipping today, slow steaming simply means running at a slower speed. This is currently the hottest trend in shipping as it can not only significantly cut carbon emissions but it also reduces consumption and fuel costs. 2) Low carbon fuels - Research is currently being done into the improved refinement of bunker fuel. The demand for a reduction in the quantity of ash, sulfur and other byproducts in fuel is growing and efforts are being made to reduce the cost of these new low carbon fuels. Liquefied natural gas is also being considered as an alternative fuel for ships. 3) Cold Ironing - This process, which is also known as Alternative Marine Power (AMP), involves plugging a ship in port directly into shore based power. (See illustration at left. Copyright: Capt. Pawanexh Kohli) Typically, a vessel runs auxillary engines while in port to provide power. Cold ironing allows the vessel to shut down all its engines and has the potential to significantly reduce fuel consumption and port pollution levels. 4) Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) - A catalytic converter for ships, this component, when added to the exhaust system, effectively screens out 85-95% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. Nitrogen oxide is considered a greenhouse gas and its production is regulated in numerous countries around the world. SCR is currently the most effective method of reducing vessel NOx emissions. 5) Improved ship hull design - Cushions of air and improved streamline designs are just some of the elements being incorporated into new ship design and build processes. While retrofitting existing ship hulls will require considerable effort, building improvements into a new fleet of ships is a relatively straightforward process. Propeller redesign is another element of the improvement process. 6) Improved port management - By constantly refining port operating procedures shorter wait times and quicker turn around times are becoming the rule rather than the exception. 7) Voyage optimization - By utilizing the latest weather and ocean current information to better plot voyages the shipping industry is constantly cutting back on fuel usage, costs and emissions. 8) Real time tracking - GPS tracking allows shipping lines to better plot the location of their ships and more accurately time the arrival of their vessels in port. Better timing means fewer bottlenecks in busy ports and less time spent idling, which is a major contributor to unnecessary emissions while in port. 9) Charter renegotiation - At "utmost dispatch" is a contractual term used for many years to ensure vessels sailed at their maximum speed, not necessarily their most efficient speed, and did not lose time moving goods from one port to the next. With new technologies providing the shipping industry with a real time view of the entire supply chain contracts can now be renegotiated to minimize use of the term "utmost dispatch" when it is not applicable. This, in turn, allows ships to run at more efficient speeds. 10) Sky Sails - Are basically massive kites attached to the bow of a vessel which pulls the ship through the water. While currently used on a limited number of ships this technology can reduce daily fuel consumption by 10-30%. (Please see our previous post.)
WFP was recently invited to provide logistical expertise at a 3-day pandemic response training in Lusaka, Zambia. Both the Global Logistics Cluster Support Cell and WFP's Logistics Development Unit supported the training. Shortly after the event WFP Zambia's Deputy Country Director, Purnima Kashyap, was traveling on a flight to the capital city of Lusaka when a man collapsed aboard the aircraft. What happened next was a textbook response to what appeared to be a a severe case of H1N1... Dear all, Today (Dec 4, 2009) I experienced first hand, the application of the learnings at the H1N1 simulation exercise in Zambia; at Lusaka International airport. A REALTIME testing of the simulation exercise. I was on the last lap of my return from Rome to Lusaka. At Nairobi I took Kenya Airways flight KQ 722 departing 0825 hrs to Lusaka via Lilongwe (Malawi). Barely 10 minutes after take off from Lilongwe, when the pilot allowed seat belt opening, I saw a man pass me in the aisle but he was hardly able to put his feet on the ground. I thought something was amiss, so I got up and gave him support and held him up from the back. At the same time I saw a flight attendant come over and hold him from the front. The man just collapsed in our hands. We had empty seats near by and we laid him flat. We loosened his clothes and noted he was breathing very heavily but his eyes were absolutely blanked out. He had fainted. I asked the flight attendant if there was any medical expertise available with the cabin crew - no surprise, answer was "no". We stretched him flat on the seats. At this point, I was not getting any real action from the flight crew, who really did not know what to do. I just decided to walk up and down through the entire aircraft, and called out for any medical professional - doctor or nurse - onboard. We got some help. The passenger was given oxygen and then he began to revive. Meanwhile, I asked the flight attendant to send a message to ground crew at Lusaka airport to prepare to support a medical emergency case on board and to get the medical team and supplies ready. I was asked to stay on board to provide any information the medical team may require about what happened. Now for the real action!! As we landed in Lusaka, to my surprise I saw a team of about 7-10 (cannot recall how many) people rush in to the aircraft - all with masks. There was a doctor who led the team and they came straight to the unwell passenger. First questions asked - have you had any fever in the last few days? Have you been coughing? Did you have a recent cold? Answers to all the questions were negative by the sick passenger. Then she asked some other routine questions - any history of high or low blood pressure? Any history of diabetes? Negative again! The doctor then turned to me, for me to explain what had happened. I told her the story. The sick person was wheelchaired out of the aircraft and taken for medical assistance. At this time I decided to have a quick chat with the doctor. She told me they were prepared for an H1N1 case on board as they were informed that there was a "sick person on board with contagious infection". She informed me that they had a quarantine area ready at the airport (although I could not confirm this fact) so I asked her if she had attended the H1N1 simulation exercise and to my absolute joy she said, "YES"! She said she was to pleased to have been a part of it and that they were putting what they had learned into ACTION! Well done to all those who were involved in the exercise. The model was effectively tested today at Lusaka International Airport. Purnima Kashyap Deputy Country Director United Nations World Food Programme Lusaka, Zambia
WFP Haiti, in conjunction with the Logistics Cluster, has initiated barge operations from the Haitian city of Port-au-Prince in support of emergency preparedness for the hurricane season. With the prohibitive cost of air operations, and the highly insecure environment on land, the waterways provide smooth transit for humanitarian goods and materials along coastal waterways. In September of this year an assessment team led by WFP Port Captain Niels Olsen flew to Jeremie in western Haiti to assess the the suitability of the 1,700 metric ton capacity barge, Rebecca. After ascertaining the suitability of the barge for operations a charter was signed with the vessel's owner and the barge transited to Port-au-Prince to begin preparations for its first voyage. View Haiti in a larger map The barge operations are expected to continue until the end of December and is available for use by the humanitarian community free of charge. The barge is currently slated to deliver a load of medical equipment for a Cuban medical team to Anse-d'Hainault which is situated on the western most tip of the island. The consignment will include eight trucks loaded with food and medical supplies. The trucks will operate in a 'roll on, roll off' fashion with the trucks driving off the vessel under their power and not being hoisted off with the aid of a mechanical lift. The barge operation is a European Commission Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) funded project and is one of several projects that WFP currently manages in Haiti. Hard hit during the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season the island of Haiti has seen both WFP air and ground operation run in conjunction with members of the Logistics Cluster. Currently, the inter-agency fleet of trucks, that we highlighted a few months back, operates in the rugged and mountainous interior of the country. Special thanks to: Niels Olsen, Christian Fortier, Edmondo Perrone and the entire WFP Haiti team!
WFP’s Central American Centre for Humanitarian Response In El Salvador Responds To A National Disaster
On November 7th torrential rains caused massive flooding throughout El Salvador after Hurricane Ida swept through the region. For WFP's Central American Centre for Humanitarian Response based near San Salvador it was the first time they were faced with responding to a national disaster. For years the unit based at the Aeropuerto Internacional de Comalapa has assisted with disaster and relief operations for countries in the region. In 2008 they provided airlifts into Cuba and Haiti following Hurricane Gustav & Ike while in other years overland convoys have been sent to Mexico, Belize, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Panama. As the storms swept through the country earlier this month they caused 12 major rivers to overflow. In turn, those rivers damaged 41 bridges and destroyed 14 more. In all 53 roadways were made impassable. The only chance for getting relief items into the hardest hit areas was by helicopter. High Energy Biscuits (HEB's) being loaded onto helicopters. Copyright: WFP/Jaime Hernandez Working closely with both El Salvador's Civil Protection Force and the United States Southern Command based in Honduras the WFP team supported air operations launched by the US military. They also assisted the US government by receiving a shipment of emergency shelters that arrived on a flight chartered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Typically, the Centre stocks primarily High Energy Biscuits (HEB's), which are available for quick regional deployments. The HEB's complement the stocks of non-food items stored at the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) base in Panama which is the Centre's logistical partner in the region. On this occasion the warehouse received and dispatched mattresses, shelter materials, water, food and an assortment of other goods. WFP's partners in the region, including Oxfam America and UNFPA also move goods through the hub. Trucks departing the Centre en route to locations throughout El Salvador. Copyright: WFP/Gladys Canas The warehouses are located just meters from the main runway at the international airport in Comalapa, which is about 35km from San Salvador, and made available to WFP, free of charge, by El Salvador's Ministry of Defense. Established in 2006 the idea was initially to dispatch goods overland utilizing El Salvador's suitable road network and take advantage of its close proximity to other Central American nations. It is estimated that overland responses are 10 times cheaper than airlifts into the region and that the same land convoys can still reach beneficiaries within 48-72 hours. The positive working relationship WFP has with the El Salvadoran government makes operating the hub a fairly trouble free activity. When not being used for response activities the Centre serves as a training facility where local El Salvadorans receive HEB's at a local distribution point. Copyright: WFP/Francisco Guzmán and regional logistics trainings take place. In response to the recent emergency, the team has dispatched 6.5 tonnes of HEB's and 24,000 litres of water to locations throughout El Salvador. That is in addition to the mattresses, shelter and construction materials handled for other agencies. As the emergency work slowly gives way to more routine operational activities the Centre is taking stock of their inventory with an eye to future events that are, most likely, just around the corner. Special thanks to Andrew Stanhope, Gladys Canas, Adrian Storbeck and the entire WFP El Salvador team!
WFP Sudan recently resumed food airdrops in Jonglei state, South Sudan. In addition to Jonglei state, airdrops are also taking place in Warrap and Upper Nile states. An Mi-26 helicopter has been brought into service to temporarily cover Lekuongole, Pibor and Gumuruk. We have been fortunate enough to get our hands on some photos from the operation as well as answers to many commonly asked questions about food airdrops. Philippe Martou, WFP's Deputy Chief of Aviation, has been kind enough to provide us with answers to the ten most popular questions. 1. Why does WFP drop food from airplanes? The main reasons we perform airdrops is to reach populations which are cut-off, either by insecurity or either by a non-existent or non-operational road network. The cost of food drops is extremely high when compared to trucking, so it is a measure of last resort. 2. Where do you drop food? We drop food in very specific places which are temporarily cut-off; for example Dungu in the DRC and Akobo in South Sudan. Additionally , WFP manages road rehabilitation projects in South Sudan so that airdrops aren't required anymore. Until the roads were built we had to airdrop food. Ground crews coordinating with aircraft Copyright: WFP/Mohamed Siddiq 3. So you fly over at 30,000 feet, open up the cargo door, and shift it all out? The planes typically fly at 600 to 1000 ft depending on the wind and the type of aircraft . If the nose of the plane is in the wind the plane will be at about 600ft and, as it slows down, the bags of food will also slow. If, however, the wind is at the tail, the plane will fly approximately 100 ft higher to be able to allow the bags to reduce their forward travel distance before they hit the ground as the bags would otherwise tear themselves up by rolling over the ground through bushes. If you drop too high the bags will explode on impact and too low they will roll too much. 4. Can you simply load food into a plane and drop it? The food is loaded into the aircraft on pallets. The pallets hold nicely stacked 50kg bags of food. The pallets are strapped into the aircraft which hold them in place. There is a knife connected to the cord that is connected to a retriever. The aircraft is lined up with the dropping zone from at least 10km out in order to be properly aligned for the drop. Once the aircraft is in the drop zone the retriever is activated which pulls the cord with the knife. The knife then cuts the strap and the bags fall out but not the pallets as they stay on board. This system uses metal pallets compared to previous systems when wooden pallets where used and dropped together with the cargo. Those wooden pallets weren't thrown away by the beneficiaries as they were used for several purposes, inclusive to reinforce their houses. 5. What happens once the food lands on the ground? Once the food is dropped it is retrieved by staff on the ground who move the food to a distribution center that is set up nearby. Locals often come to assist with the loading. 6. How do you make sure no one is killed by a 50kg bag falling down like a rocket? First we assess a drop zone. The drop zone will typically be close to a community, but not too close . The terrain must be flat and clear of obstacles. There are also staff are on the ground that communicate with the aircraft and make sure people do not stray into the drop zone. 7. How are the bags of food specially prepared for a drop from that height? The food must be triple bagged in 80kg sacks to allow room for expansion and movement during the impact following the drop. That way the first two bags might rupture before the third one can be compromised. 8. Can any plane be used? How are planes equipped for food drops? Only cargo aircraft equipped with a ramp and door can be used for airdrops. Example of those aircraft are the C-130, the AN-12 and IL-76. 9. Are pilots specially trained for this work? Yes, pilots need special training to qualify them for cargo drops. Beneficiaries remove the food from the dropzone Copyright: WFP/Mohamed Siddiq 10. What are the main challenges of food drops? Obtaining funding - it is extremely costly (about 1000USD per ton) to airdrop food. The costs include airport costs, fuel, warehousing costs, etc. Labor intensive - WFP has to find staff to rebag, manage the drop zone etc. as well as operate loading equipment including forklift, trucks, etc. Demanding - It takes a lot to prepare a site, make sure it is clear and to get the food on the X. But, still we deliver on our mandate which is to provide food to those in need. Special thanks to Philippe Martou, Annette Angeletti, Mats Persson, Amorcecille Almagro, WFP Sudan and the entire WFP Aviation team!
The second longest river in the world, the Congo River's flow is only marginally less than that of the mighty Amazon. Stretching halfway across southern Africa the Congo has long served as a crucial trade route through some of the most impenetrable terrain on earth. Currently, WFP is involved with several operations along the river. Below, we highlight two of those activities. In 2008 WFP DRC received funding to implement a river transport service in the Congolese province of Equator. A $300,000.00 contract was signed with Caritas to build 3 boats (balenieres) that would transport food and NFIs for WFP and the humanitarian community to different isolated areas of Equator. Caritas will manage the river transport service and invoice users on a cost recovery basis. The first boat started its voyage on October 30th, 2009 with 29 metric tonnes (MT) of food for a cooperating partner in Bolomba, a town northeast of the main Equator city of Mbandaka. The custom built boats made the roughly 650km trip in only five days with no delays. The following week a convoy consisting of seven barges and two pushers left Kinshasa en route to Kisangani. It was an impressive convoy at 500 meters long and 16 meters wide, with a total of 1580 horsepower to move it up the river. It carried 2500 MT of various goods including 14 containers transported on behalf of the Mission de l'Organisation des Nations Unies en République démocratique du Congo (MONUC) and 6,736 cartons (81 MT) of school books for four educational districts in the Orientale province. This was the first time WFP DRC moved goods for MONUC and the World Bank funded book program. That convoy arrived yesterday, Nov 19th, making the 1500km journey in 15 days. WFP recently signed a field level agreement (FLA) with the UN mission in DRC for the provision of logistics and procurement services. With the FLA in place WFP anticipates increased traffic on the Kinshasa-Kisangani barge route. The growing number of humanitarian groups working in Orientale province are also heightening demand for the service. Both the balenieres and convoys are much needed services in this region and with increased needs the vessels will remain a common sight on the river for some time to come. Pushers in position behind the convoy. Copyright: TFCE/Matheos Phillis Preparing for departure. Copyright: TFCE/Matheos Phillis Convoy en route to Kisangani. Copyright: TFCE/Matheos Phillis The position of the convoy is tracked on daily basis on Google Earth. Special thanks to the WFP DRC country office!
Every day dozens of WFP chartered vessels ply the oceans of the world en route to distant ports. Laden with food the vessels steer their course towards the continents of Asia, South America and Africa where the need is often greatest. The beautiful highlands of Ethiopia have long struggled to support that proud nation's burgeoning population but have often been unable to meet the demand. As a result WFP has been asked to step in and establish a vital food lifeline from countries around the world whose grain surpluses can meet the needs of the Ethiopian people. For years the Port of Djibouti served as the main port of call for all food flowing into landlocked Ethiopia. Following the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993, Ethiopia, which once had the privilege of using the ports of Asab and Massawa along the Red Sea coast, suddenly found itself reliant upon the tiny nation of Djibouti for access to the Gulf Of Aden, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. An increase in commercial cargo, humanitarian cargo and government cargo led to congestion in the Port of Djibouti and strained the overland transport capacity to Ethiopia. While some years were worse than others, the past two years have presented additional challenges. The Ethiopian government's request for support of over 11 million people has suddenly pushed the supply chain to its limit. (The amount of food WFP estimates it will need to move into Ethiopia is nearly 800,000 metric tonnes.) As a result of this request, WFP undertook an assessment to determine the feasibility of using the ports of Sudan and Berbera, located to the north and south respectively, as alternate supply routes into the landlocked nation. Early test shipments proved successful so additional shipments of bulk grain were sent into the two alternate ports. We have been lucky enough to receive images from these early shipments to the remote port of Berbera and of the overland convoys moving into Ethiopia from Sudan. We took the liberty of compiling the images into a multi-image show complete with a custom audio track. It highlights the process involved with moving food into some of the world's most remote regions. Hopefully, the new routes will prove to sustainable new passages into the heart of Ethiopia. Special thanks to the Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Sudan country teams, the Shipping unit and Will Thompson for the music!
WFP's logistics unit has been working on rehabilitating Mogadishu Port for two years. The port was severely damaged by the 2004 tsunami and by years of fighting and neglect. The repairs involve dredging the channels, salvaging sunken vessels and rebuilding various port structures. It had been some time since the logistics team overseeing the operation had the opportunity to visit the project site. In order to properly assess the work being done by the salvage teams and other contractors the logistics team in Nairobi requested permission to visit the port and witness the progress first hand. While a visit to most project sites involves jumping in a vehicle and driving a few kilometers, a visit to Mogadishu Port is anything but easy. For years war has ravaged Somalia and in particular the capital city of Mogadishu. Since 2006 several WFP staff members have been killed while attempting to do their jobs and as a result the country team was relocated to Nairobi and strict protocols now govern all staff travel to Somalia. In order for the WFP team to visit Mogadishu Port it had to first obtain permission from the UN's Under Secretary General in New York. Once permission was granted the team had to then wait for the arrival of WFP Security team members who would escort them on their trip. A UN Humanitarian Air Service flight chartered specifically for the visit also had to be arranged. Next, the entire trip then had to be coordinated with the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers who are currently operating on the ground in Somalia. Without an escort by the protective detail the mission would not have been possible due to sporadic fighting on the ground. Finally, all members of the expedition were required to have passed 5 days of rigorous training identical to that which staff members visiting Baghdad must endure. The flight touched down early on a November morning at the lightly used airport on the outskirts of Mogadishu. The team was immediately moved into armored personnel carriers and issued helmets and body armor which they were required to wear at all times. While expecting an attack en route to the airport none materialized and the team arrived 12 minutes later inside the walls of Mogadishu Port. Shortly before noon the team had its first glimpse of the bustling port. In addition to the installation of two new generators, dock bumpers and navigation aids the critical task of dredging the port basin was well underway. Already, the dredging team has removed some 6000 cubic meters of silt from the sea floor. Unfortunately, even the they were not immune from being targeted by gunfire. In the image below you can see where one bullet entered through the ship's cabin window while several others raked the side of the vessel. It was later determined that the gunfire was accidental. Several hours after arriving and observing the activity that is transforming the once battered port into the jewel of WFP operations in Somalia, the team boarded the armored personnel carriers and made their way back to the AMISOM base near the airport. Not long after that the team touched down at the airport in Nairobi. Total time on the ground in Somalia was about 4 hours. It is incredible that even in such an austere environment the logistics team in Nairobi is able to maintain operations and show measurable progress. It is a testament to their abilities and those of the Somali contractors currently working on the ground and under fire. Once completed the port stands to serve as a source of stability for the beleaguered nation and a conduit for relief items and international trade. WFP doesn't just deliver food, it rebuilds nations. Special thanks to Michael Nuboer and the entire WFP Somalia country team!