Managing Four Hunger Emergencies: What To Teach

WFP begins the new year in the difficult position of managing three large-scale hunger emergencies simultaneously, in addition to the much-reported-on crisis in the Philippines. These emergencies provide a major challenge for WFP, as each country is in urgent need of food. In the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Syria longstanding unstable hunger situations have been exacerbated by new conflict and violence.

Here’s what you can teach your students about these situations.

Central African Republic (CAR) 

 people gathering around WFP sacks at a food distributionIn CAR, hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee their homes to escape ongoing violence. People have not only lost their homes—many have also lost their livelihoods as farmers have been unable to harvest crops.

WFP is working to scale up operations here, aiming to reach 1.25 million people in the next eight months. However, US$107 million is urgently needed to ensure that this can happen.

Learn more about the Central African Republic by visiting WFP’s country page here

South Sudan 

South Sudanese women carrying boxes of WFP food on their heads

The deterioration of the world’s youngest nation was rapid. In early December, political conflict triggered an upsurge in violence, forcing tens of thousands from their homes. WFP’s relief efforts initially focused on providing assistance to people taking refuge in UN compounds, but efforts are also being made to reach those who have fled to other locations. WFP has provided food for more than 80,000 people so far. A new emergency operation will provide food assistance to 400,000 internally displace people.

If the conflict continues, more people could be pushed into hunger. Many families have had to abandon crops and livestock as they’ve fled their homes in search of safety.

Learn more about South Sudan by visiting WFP’s country page here.


A young girl stands with a group of Syrian refugees

The emergency operation aiding Syrians both inside and outside the country is the largest and most complex for WFP worldwide. For Syrian refugees both inside and outside the country, this year marks the third winter that they will face in the midst of an intense civil war. According to recent assessments, almost half of the population inside Syria struggles to get enough food.

WFP is continuing to expand operations, aiming to reach over 7 million people in 2014—4 million inside Syria and 3 million refugees outside the country.

Learn more about this emergency by visiting WFP’s crisis page here.

What happens when emergency strikes?

Teaching your students about how WFP reacts in the face of an emergency is an important part of this lesson. When an emergency hits, WFP launches into action to determine how many people are in need of food, how much food is needed and for how long. The Emergency Preparedness Team is consistently working to prepare for potential emergencies, so WFP can quickly react to such situations.

Working with the UN Emergency Assessment Teams, WFP evaluates the situation to determine information like necessary quantities of food and the best delivery method for the aid. An Emergency Operation (EMOP) is then drawn up, which includes a budget and action plan. Learn more about these operations here.

An appeal for funds and food aid from governments around the world is then made, as WFP is entirely funded by voluntary donations. The Logistics team can then begin developing a plan to transport the food and aid to the emergency, where WFP teams up with governments and other organizations to begin distributions.

Being prepared and responding to emergencies is an extremely important part of WFP’s work around the world. Expand your lesson by visiting our Responding to Emergencies page. The infographic breaks down what WFP does when called to respond to disasters.

(Photo—Central African Republic: WFP/ Ingela Christiansson; South Sudan: WFP/George Fominyen; Syria: WFP/Dina Elkassaby)