WFP is funded entirely through voluntary contributions, most of which come from governments. When we calculated the cost of feeding 108 million hungry people in 74 countries in 2009, we set a budget of US$6.7 billion. Taking into account forecasts and money already received, we now expect to end the year with US$3.7 billion.
The funding shortfall is already having an impact on our operations around the world. Here are three examples:
What happens when a WFP project is underfunded?
When funding shortfalls start affecting our ability to feed hungry people, we always do our utmost to protect the most needy and vulnerable. There are a range of different actions WFP can take. First of all we can consider reducing the rations we distribute.
How do you reduce rations?
The standard ration for a general food distribution provides some 2,100 calories per person per day. We might cut that to 1,800 or 1,500 or even less - especially if those affected can access some food from other sources - such as their own vegetable plots.
See what's in a standard food ration
What else can WFP do?
If the funding situation doesn’t improve, we may have to consider suspending some programmes. In making this decision, we always try to select those we consider most vulnerable – usually pregnant women, children and the elderly – and do whatever we can to ensure that these groups still get the food they need.
In Guatemala, funding shortfalls could mean that in August, around 100,000 children under the age of 5, and 50,000 pregnant and lactating women will lose their supply of Vitacereal – a highly nutritious blend of maize, soy and micronutrients.
Learn more about Guatemala and WFP's work there
WFP was aiming to feed 5 million hungry people who have been seriously affected by high food prices, or are struggling to feed their families due to the downturn in the global economy. Due to the funding shortfalls, we are now aiming to reach only 1.4 million – or around one quarter of the original caseload.
Learn more about Bangladesh and WFP's work there
Hunger is on the rise following the failure of the long-rains season in marginal agricultural lowlands and pastoral areas. WFP will run short of cereals in August, and the 3.2 million Kenyans living in arid and semi-arid areas who had been receiving a normal ration will now face reductions in the amount of food they are given.
Learn more about Kenya and WFP's work there
What can I do?
One thing you can obviously do is donate. But that’s not all. Raising awareness is also important because if the public is well informed about the situation, then governments will be more inclined to provide funding for urgent hunger needs. Maybe you could send a link to this page to your web contacts. Or write about hunger on your blog. More ideas? Check out our Billion for a Billion page.