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WFP Statement on strengthened actions to address food diversion in Ethiopia

ROME – The World Food Programme (WFP) is rolling out comprehensive, systemic measures to prevent further misuse of life-saving aid in response to the discovery of widespread diversion of humanitarian food assistance in Ethiopia last month. WFP paused food distributions in the Tigray region after finding evidence of significant food aid sales in local markets. WFP immediately began an investigation and is enhancing safeguards and controls to ensure that necessary assistance reaches the most vulnerable women, men, and children.

“WFP has zero tolerance for theft or diversion that prevents critical food from reaching the hungry families who need it to survive,” said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain. “Those found responsible must be held accountable. We are committed to doing everything it takes to guarantee that food assistance benefits the people who need it most.”

To prevent further diversion, WFP has put in place a comprehensive plan which will be enacted across all WFP operations in Ethiopia. Actions include: 

  1. Implementing real-time food security and needs assessments to prioritize those most in need;
  2. Strengthening targeting and management of beneficiary lists and identity checks;
  3. Reinforcing commodity tracking to follow food movements from warehouses to beneficiaries; and
  4. Increasing monitoring, community feedback and reporting mechanisms to unearth and quickly escalate issues on misuse, including full transparency with all stakeholders. 

WFP will work closely with Ethiopian regional and national authorities, and with all partners, to implement needed reforms so that urgent food assistance can resume in Tigray and supports intended beneficiaries nationwide.

“Taking food away from the starving is unacceptable, whether in Ethiopia or anywhere else in the world,” said McCain.  “WFP is actively assessing all high-risk country operations to ensure stringent processes are in place so that our assistance makes it to the millions and millions of hungry people who depend on us.”

Over 20 million people are in dire need of humanitarian food assistance in Ethiopia in 2023, as communities are reeling from the impact of prolonged conflict and drought.


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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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Ethiopia Executive Director


For more information please contact or (email address:

Claire Nevill, WFP/Ethiopia,
Mob. +251 944 33 4949

Azfar Deen, WFP/ Rome,
Mob. +39 345 846 6425

Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington,
Mob.  +1 202 770 5993

Brenda Kariuki, WFP/Nairobi,
Mob. +254 707 722 104