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Flexible funding allowed WFP to reach the world's displaced and forgotten people in 2018

Woman with a bag of WFP food and bottles of vegetable oil
A Rohingya refugee woman with a bag of WFP food and bottles of vegetable oil in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder
ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) received US$440 million of flexible funding in 2018, a ten percent increase from 2017. Flexible contributions allow WFP to use funds wherever and whenever needs are greatest, giving it the agility to respond to sudden-onset emergencies as well as the means to sustain lifesaving assistance in neglected and protracted crises.

In the Sahel, the early availability of multilateral resources enabled WFP to kick-start its response to the worst lean season of the last four years, reaching over 3 million people with food assistance and averting a major food crisis. Allocations of flexible funding helped WFP sustain assistance to almost 900,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, scale-up its support to the displaced in Colombia, and provide relief to farmers facing severe drought in Madagascar.  

“It’s pretty simple: flexible funding allows us to be more timely, effective and efficient, delivering the maximum impact for every contribution we receive” says WFP Executive Director David Beasley. “A number of our government partners are seeing the difference flexible funding makes and how it cuts down on costs. We call on more government donors to provide this kind of funding: predictable, unearmarked and usable over multiple years.”

Under the agreement known as the Grand Bargain, concluded at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, leading donors committed themselves to reducing the earmarking of funds, aiming for a global target of 30% for flexible humanitarian funding by the year 2020.

Governments that provide multilateral support, however, are still very much in the minority. Flexible contributions remained at just six percent of WFP’s total resources this year, well below a 20 percent mark in 2002.

In 2018, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Australia, Canada, Ireland and Belgium led the way in providing WFP with flexible support. Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and Canada were the top supporters of WFP’s Immediate Response Account – this is the organization’s most flexible funding facility and enables the deployment of life-saving assistance within 24 hours of the onset of a crisis.

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The United Nations World Food Programme - saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

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Partnerships Funding Emergencies

For more information please contact (email address:

Herve Verhoosel, WFP/Geneva, Mob. +41 798428057

Anne Poulsen, WFP/Copenhagen, Mob. +45 40503993

Francis Mwanza, WFP/London, Mob. +44 7968008474

Julie Marshall, WFP/Toronto, Mob. +1 9058182664

Steve Taravella, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 556 6909, Mob. +1 202 770 5993

Antoine Vallas, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 65133964