Delivering aid in the midst of a crisis or building food security for vulnerable communities requires reliable, sustainable infrastructure. The lack or poor quality of roads, bridges, ports or airfields hampers the efforts of humanitarian agencies during emergencies. It also hinders development, leaving communities isolated and making access to food difficult and dangerous.
Thanks to a diversified, highly qualified technical capacity, specialized tools and a “can do” mentality, the World Food Programme (WFP) develops tailored, cost-effective and timely solutions to all challenges.
Whether it is rehabilitating roads in South Sudan to improve food security and access; preserving food quality in Afghanistan through the design and construction a Strategic Grain Reserve with silos in 5 locations across the country; building specialized infrastructure for school feeding in Malawi; reducing CO2 emissions through the Energy Efficiency Programme (EEP); or teaming up with other UN agencies to build and maintain infrastructure in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, WFP engineers provide services in remote locations under extremely challenging circumstances.
This function benefits not only WFP operations, but also the wider humanitarian community. This was seen during the 2015 Ebola outbreak, when WFP shared its engineering expertise with other humanitarian partners to build structures never built before – from Ebola treatment units to vehicle decontamination centres. In Kutupalong, Bangladesh, one of world’s largest refugee camps, WFP Engineering has built storage facilities to support logistics, humanitarian camps for UN workers and modular bridges to secure access to food and non-food items. In Yemen WFP Engineering has rehabilitated and constructed essential infrastructure for the humanitarian community to scale up assistance.
Engineering work can significantly contribute to cutting the cost of delivering assistance and has exceptionally high returns on investment. In South Sudan, WFP rehabilitated over 382 km of roads from Juba to Rumbek, an area which becomes impassable during rainy seasons. WFP managed to transport 15,000 MT of food along this road during the rainy season and prepositioned around 132,000 MT of food in 2018. If the road had not been open and this food had been transported by air, an additional cost of $ 37.5 million would have been incurred.
Our engineering work bridges the divide between humanitarian and development activities. Whether stemming from an emergency or the request of a government for technical assistance, an investment in infrastructure is an investment in a country’s long-term food security.