Most vulnerable and food insecure people live in fragile, resource-scarce and degraded environments, in areas that are prone to climate disasters and exposed to frequent shocks.
The World Food Programme (WFP)’s Food Assistance for Assets (FFA) initiative addresses immediate food needs through cash, voucher or food transfers, while at the same time it promotes the building or rehabilitation of assets that will improve long-term food security and resilience.
FFA activities aim to create healthier natural environments, reduce the risks and impact of climate shocks, increase food productivity, and strengthen resilience to natural disasters over time.
Since 2013, FFA programmes in more than 50 countries have helped between 10 and 15 million people each year bring hundreds of thousands of hectares of degraded land back into productive use, plant thousands of hectares of forests, and build scores of wells, ponds and feeder roads, and be trained in livelihood and agricultural practices.
The impact of FFA programmes can be tangible and long lasting. In the early 1990s, WFP worked with communities in rural Guatemala, where droughts and recurrent natural disasters made it difficult for many families to cover their basic food needs. Through FFA, they rehabilitated barren lands, diversified crops, restored forests and installed irrigation systems. Twenty years later, it is clear this work has paid off: food production has increased up to three-fold, and communities were able to withstand the impact of two major hurricanes that wrought havoc through Central America.
FFA programmes can ensure lasting environmental benefits by reducing erosion and desertification, or improving soil condition. By increasing productivity and promoting sustainable agriculture, they strengthen and diversify incomes and livelihoods. They empower communities to work together and find their way out of hunger. FFA can also promote improved gender equality and women's empowerment, nutrition, protection, and climate change adaptation.
Seen through the lens of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), FFA is a powerful tool in efforts to achieve Goal 2. FFA restores degraded landscapes, expands the availability and diversity of food produced and consumed locally, and ensures that local food production and income-generating activities can continue through shocks and crises. Partner governments can also benefit from an improved capacity for food security and nutrition policies, strategies and programmes.
In addition, due to the range of activities FFA includes, asset creation, combined with partners’ efforts, contributes to SDG Goal 5 on gender equality; Goal 6 on water and sanitation; Goal 12 on responsible consumption and production; Goal 13 on climate action; and Goal 15 (sustainable forest management, combating desertification, halting and reversing land degradation, and putting an end to biodiversity loss).
Areas of work
Natural resources conservation and management
Sustainable land and water management activities – including soil and water conservation, afforestation, water harvesting, flood control and soil fertility measures – which enhance productivity, improve water availability, reduce loss of biodiversity and decrease vulnerability to climate shocks and other stressors.
Restoring agricultural, pastoral, fisheries potential
Activities that support an increase in productivity, including rehabilitation of irrigation schemes and water source development for domestic, agricultural, livestock and aquaculture use; land rehabilitation and clearing; forestry and agroforestry management and practices; cutting of overgrown vegetation in abandoned areas; removal of debris from agricultural areas after landslides or floods.
Improving access to markets, social services, infrastructure
Interventions include: construction and rehabilitation of roads, trails, bridges and removal of debris; rehabilitation of schools, canteens, latrines, market places, community granaries, warehouses; and provision of alternative sources of energy, including building fuel efficient stoves.
Skills development trainings
Training areas include: participatory watershed management or area-based planning for community members; natural and physical assets management (e.g. cereal banks, small grain reserves); forest management; construction and use of fuel efficient stoves; income generation activities linked to the conservation and management of natural resources (e.g. small nursery development, compost making, beekeeping, etc.), and disaster preparedness.