WFP food aid crosses some of the toughest terrain on Earth in order reach to the world's hungry where and when they need it.
Copyright: WFP/Casey Kaufmann
With nearly five decades of experience delivering food to the world’s hungry, WFP has built up highly detailed knowledge of how to get the job done. Here are eight things you may not know about the inner workings of the food assistance machine.
1. Nearer than you think,
Many people think all food aid travels across the world from rich countries. But in 2009, a third of WFP food assistance was purchased in the very country where it was needed. And 80 percent was bought in the developing world.
2. Yaks on track
Getting food aid to remote schools in Bhutan often means taking yaks on an eight-day trek through the Himalayas. In other countries, oxen, mules, horses, camels and even elephants are used as alternatives to trucks, when there are no suitable roads. Watch this video
3. Perfect altitude
When you do food airdrops, the plane has to fly at a height of 180-300 metres (depending on wind conditions). If you drop the bags from too high, they will explode on impact. Too low and they will roll along and could break or tear.
4. Build what you need
When you’re trying to channel food to thousands of hungry people quickly, you sometimes find that transport channels are broken. After the earthquake in Haiti, WFP had to rebuild the main port before food aid could be brought through it.
5. Almost perfect!
Of all the WFP food assistance delivered to beneficiary countries, 99.5 percent safely reaches the hungry or the NGO partners who help us distribute it. This high figure is in part thanks to a cadre of food aid monitors, whose job it is to follow the bags on their journey.
6. Maximum impact
The best way to maximise the impact of food assistance is to target kids under two. That’s because if babies and tots don’t get the right food at this time, their physical and mental development can be compromised irreversibly. If they do get it, they start life with the best chance of thriving. Find out more
7. Twenty-four hours
Some of the most effective work to save lives happens before emergencies strike. Having emergency food supplies pre-positioned in Haiti meant WFP could start helping the survivors within 24 hours of the Jan.12 earthquake. See photo gallery.
8. Fast food
A 500–gram ration of high-energy biscuits provides enough energy (2,250kcal) to keep an average adult going for a day. HEBs are ideal immediately after a disaster, when there's a need for food that contains energy and nutrients, doesn’t require cooking and is easily transportable.