Innovation and digital transformation
- 9 million
- people benefited from innovations supported by the WFP Innovation Accelerator in 2021
- 161 million-plus
- meals have been shared by more than 9.5 million smartphone users via WFP’s ShareTheMeal app
- 2 million-plus
- people can be fed for one year due to cost savings resulting from WFP’s data-driven platforms.
Delivering decades of innovative humanitarian response has shaped the World Food Programme (WFP) and its collective mindset, cultivating the persistence, ingenuity and problem-solving that are now driving its digital transformation.
With innovation and technology, WFP speeds up emergency response, scales up assistance and brings empowerment and choice to the lives of people in need. In the humanitarian sphere, money saved can so often mean lives saved.
This is what innovation and digital transformation look like to WFP:
- The power to monitor the food security of vulnerable, hard-to-reach communities in real time, even from thousands of miles away
- Giving choice and agency to the people WFP serves by supporting them through secure digital-finance tools
- Providing a record amount of assistance to people in need, regardless of obstacles in our supply chain, through the power of data
- Growing food anywhere through locally adaptable and affordable hydroponic solutions, using 75 percent less space and up to 90 percent less water
- Forecasting humanitarian needs more accurately than ever before to ensure faster, more targeted assistance
- Providing digital training to young refugees and other youth at risk – bridging their way out of hunger and poverty towards a future with employment
- Deploying drones to carry out aerial remote sensing to assess post-disaster damage
- Outfitting amphibious all-terrain vehicles with self-driving, robotic engineering, so that WFP can deliver assistance to even the most dangerous last mile.
There are many more ways that technology helps in WFP’s fight against hunger. This includes training smallholder farmers through easy-to-use apps and improving emergency response by using chatbots for two-way communication with crisis-affected people.
To harness technology, innovation and data to its fullest potential, WFP fosters strategic partnerships with companies and organizations – who supply pro bono access to software, products and professional skills.
Innovation, and the design and use of digital tools at WFP, are guided by five core values that steer our operations worldwide:
- With integrity, WFP prioritizes the safety and privacy of the people it serves and exercises due diligence with prospective donors
- By collaborating among divisions, between disciplines and through partnerships, WFP pushes to achieve more with data and digital technology
- A strong commitment to duty keeps WFP from ever settling for “business as usual”, as it innovates to disrupt hunger
- WFP’s sense of humanity pushes it to develop solutions with a sustainable impact on people’s lives
- With an inclusive mindset, WFP welcomes the people it serves as equal participants in the digital landscape, which is helping pave the way to zero hunger.
Driven by these values, innovation and technology have served as great enablers of humanitarianism. The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to WFP for using food as a pathway to peace, would not have been possible without this approach.
After the success of WFP’s first fundraising app, ShareTheMeal, the Innovation Accelerator was established in Munich in 2015 to proactively source, support and scale high-potential solutions to disrupt global hunger and work towards the Sustainable Development Goals. It uses the expertise and strategies of private sector tech leaders and start-up entrepreneurs to improve humanitarian intervention projects, by connecting them with more than 21,000 WFP staff worldwide, across global operations in over 120 countries and territories.
The Accelerator also shares its learning with UN colleagues, as co-lead of the UN Innovation Network, and with various NGOs and private sector innovation entities through its SDG Acceleration Programme.
The WFP Innovation Accelerator has supported more than 100 projects to date, with 16 innovations scaling up globally to achieve significant impact. These projects reached 9 million people across 67 countries in 2021 alone, through WFP’s humanitarian field operations. Innovations supported by the Accelerator have raised more than US$180 million in co-funding.
WFP is a four-time winner of the Anthem Awards, which recognize social impact work worldwide. The WFP Innovation Accelerator was named in Fast Company’s lists of Best Workplaces for Innovators and Most Innovative Companies (Not-For-Profit) 2021.