WFP To Spotlight Challenges For Media Covering Hunger

WFP and Reuters AlertNet will gather NGOs, journalists, commentators and policy makers in London on Friday to delve into the way hunger is reported in the media and explore the challenges involved in delivering food assistance in dangerous environments. Go to Live Blog

ROME -- WFP and Reuters AlertNet will host a high-profile event in London on Friday to examine the way hunger is reported in the media and to provide insight into the challenges involved in delivering food assistance in dangerous environments.

The Hunger Seminar, to be opened by WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran and Monique Villa, CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation, will draw heavily but not exclusively on WFP’s 47-year experience of delivering food aid in places like Darfur, Haiti and Somalia.

Get Involved

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We want your ideas, thoughts, questions. Take part in the Hunger Seminar in three ways: 
  1. Ask a question in the comment box at the bottom of this page. We will collect your questions and put some of them to our high-level panels. 
  2. Share this page with your friends, tell them about the seminar and get them to leave questions too. Share this on Facebook /Tweet about it
  3. Log on to the live blog on Friday between 10 am and 4 pm London time to follow the debate as it unfolds.

“It's an opportunity not only for us to explain the challenges we face but also for WFP to listen to other ideas and approaches to delivering humanitarian assistance,” said WFP’s Greg Barrow.

Broad participation

Senior representatives from British-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and think-tanks will attend, including Shaheen Chughtai from Oxfam, Richard Dowden from the Royal African Society, Brendan Gormley from the Disasters Emergency Committee and Simon Maxwell, the ODI.

Feike Sibjesma, CEO of Dutch company DSM, will be present to talk about private sector involvement in the fight against hunger.

As well as looking at the many costs of getting food aid to the hungry in danger zones, debate will also explore the concept of ‘intelligent’ food aid – food assistance which is precisely targeted and designed to have maximum impact, now and in the future.

Topics in hunger

For WFP, nutrition is at the core of intelligent food aid and its operations frequently focus on providing nutritious food to the under twos, thus ensuring that they avoid the irreversible effects on growth and mental development that undernutrition can cause.

The first of Friday’s panel discussions will focus on the way hunger is reported in the media. Josette Sheeran, a former journalist herself, will participate in this debate, alongside senior Reuters News journalists and prominent media commentators, such as Jonathan Rugman of Channel 4 News.

One of the goals of the seminar is to give the media a better understanding of how humanitarian agencies respond to emergencies – especially in complex situations such as Haiti and Somalia - so as to allow the best possible reporting.

I have 2 questions for the

I have 2 questions for the conference:

1. In connection of the United Nation Millennium Development Goal, how does media works with WFP and other NGO’s mtogether in achieving eradication of hunger and poverty in different areas. Which country sees improving and which country needs help?

2. In times of calamity, how hard is to work with the victims and what are the basic guidelines in responding to their needs and emotions especially media should be covering the events only?

Thank you!

From Obe Christian Obe on the

From Obe Christian Obe on the WFP Facebook page Media is certainly one main avenue to venture the awareness of hunger , however ethics and quality report appears to be a thing of the past.

The flamboyant median report on hunger seems to be seen a stale news except when it's accompanied with disaster as Louisiana, Haiti or recently in Niger. The point though media must get over it and get real of the reality of hunger even in a none hustle or environmental disaster so that everyone can relate. Over 1 billion people fear hunger globally. 
How media adjust to this reality will help both policy makers and individuals to adapt a strategy for the root cause.


From Nisar Ahmed Khan  on

From Nisar Ahmed Khan  on the WFP Facebook page 

One tried and test method is to power the people to do something sustainable which could help them earn their bread and butter and could keep the hunger away, so one main area of attention should be how to provide a sustainable method of earning to these people


I understand frustration and

I understand frustration and anger with media coverage and how defeating people's reluctance to get involved and change things can be. However, I considered this issue in a new way after reading about the upcoming forum mentioned in the article. I believe that the tireless efforts of organizations such as WFP are vital to addressing these problems, and I am reminded that we have so much work left to do. I agree that the dialogue needs to be radically re-envisioned to focus on what is working and how best to use the resources that many of these organizations already have. Thank you WFP for fighting the fight - I am with you and look forward to watching the dialogue about this unfold!


What challenges do the media

What challenges do the media and WFP and other organizations face? From the answers to these, can these organizations and others work more effectively together to get the word out to move toward solving these very difficult problems the world faces.? What are three specific things that can be changed or collaborated on? How can we highlight the issues more effectively?

From Lynn Miller  on the WFP

From Lynn Miller  on the WFP Facebook page 

Why has the media become more focused on "infotainment" vs. actual information? Well, I'm afraid we all know the answer to that one. We wouldn't want anyone to feel uncomfortable for 30 seconds.


From Halima Mohammadu

From Halima Mohammadu Danhamidu on the WFP Facebook page 

"My question is: do the panel think media give us a true idea on the scope and magnitude of hunger ravaging the poor,needy and less fortunte?how can the media rally more support at individual level to combat the issue of hunger. Thanks"


It's high time that children

It's high time that children are taught the vast stark difference between nutrition and a Happy Meal. If only greenmarkets and organic agriculturalists held as much clout as McDonalds and the like. The "intelligent food aid" concept is laudable -- what does its debate center upon?

 I'm sorry to see other

 I'm sorry to see other commenters posting here feel so disheartened by things.


I think any effort to make a difference to a bad situation is a good one first and foremost. With regards to media coverage I think we need to take a wider look at how society assimilates information and what its focus is. 


I am currently studying my BSc in Nutrition and have noticed a dramatic leaning towards obesity related health topics. Of course the problems posed by levels of obesity are indeed very serious but I cannot help but feel the western worlds attention, through educational institutions, popular culture and media is transfixed on obesity and that the concept of hunger is almost unimaginable to many. For want of a better expression I feel the hungry are standing in the shadows of the obese. 


There are two sides to this balance: obesity on one side, hunger on the other and I feel the media has a responsibility to work towards brining media coverage back into balance. I think it's incredibly important for the media to show the wider context in which food consumption sits and how the world food system leads to both of these serious health problems. 


I also feel that now more than ever, the WFP and other food associated charities & organisations need to work with the media to create a strong media campaign to bring the issue of world hunger and food poverty back to the forefront of peoples minds.

 If aid agencies have learnt

 If aid agencies have learnt so much about how to deal with hunger, how come we still here about famine in places like Niger in 2010?

 Until we honestly address

 Until we honestly address the real issues behind global poverty, hunger, etc., the WFP and all other NGOs will continue to spin their wheels while placing bandaids on gunshot wounds. The reality is, and everyone knows it in their hearts but refuse to admit/accept it, that the majority of the people who control the world's resources simply do not give a damn about solving these issues. They are ego and money driven. "They": (I refer to the 3% of the world who control 97% of the world's wealth). Can the World Cup or recent Olympic Games be any more reflective of this global acceptance? The billions of dollars and human energy spent to kick a soccer ball around is absolutely insane. The truth is that the world will change as we destroy it. The have-nots, who are used to surviving on the basics will thrive; the extreme wealthy will be weeded out as the law of "survival of the fittest" will then rule.

Am I being negative? Certainly not. I do all that I can with a number of NGOs, including traveling to Africa to see what is really going on for myself. Negative or not, the truth remains. When NGOs can market themselves like the World Cup or the Olympic games, we might have a chance to get to our knees.

On a happier note, thanks to the WFP for all your hard work.


How can NGOs and humanitarian

How can NGOs and humanitarian agencies like WFP overcome so-called "compassion fatigue" about world hunger in the general public? People generally agree that world leader's should make hunger a priority, and yet they themselves are so enured to it that staggering figures like the world's one billion hungry have trouble making it into the headlines. Is there another way to approach the subject to make it more conducive to modern media consumption?

Every time there's a

Every time there's a disaster, the story always seems to be the same: aid isn't arriving fast enough. How much of this is journalists looking to shock and horrify us? And is there anything you can do about this? I mean journalists have to sell their stories and inefficiency, disaster sells better than efficiency and smooth operations.