Responding to Emergencies

Responding to Emergencies
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Whether refugees are fleeing war, floods are washing away homes or drought is destroying farmland, hunger is often the first emergency.

As soon as the local government has requested WFP's help, our emergency response mechanisms go into action. Time saved means lives saved, so our Emergency Preparedness team makes sure WFP is ready to go, anytime. They use ground-breaking technology to direct assistance to where it is most needed. 

How WFP Responds To Disasters

Want to know what happens when disaster strikes and WFP is called on to provide emergency food assistance? This infographic explains the key steps.

In the early days of an emergency, while the first food supplies are being delivered, Emergency Assessment teams are also sent in to quantify exactly how much food assistance is needed for how many beneficiaries and for how long. They must also work out how food can best be delivered to the hungry.

Equipped with the answers, WFP draws up an Emergency Operation (EMOP), including a plan of action and a budget. This lists who will receive food assistance, what rations are required, the type of transport WFP will use and which humanitarian corridors lead to the crisis zone.

Appeal for funds

Next, WFP launches an Appeal to the international community for funds and food aid. The agency relies entirely on voluntary contributions to finance its operations, with donations made in cash, food or services. Governments are the biggest single source of funding.

As funds and food start to flow, WFP's logistics team works to bridge the gap between the donors and the hungry. To transport food to crisis zones we use ships, planes, helicopters, trucks -- whatever it takes, including donkeys and yaks, if need be. Learn more 

Sometimes, before the aid can reach its country of destination, logistics experts need to upgrade ports and secure warehouses.

Distribution network

When the food reaches designated distribution sites - refugee camps, therapeutic feeding centres and other emergency shelters - WFP teams up with governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to deliver food into the hands and mouths of the hungry. WFP works with about 3,000 international and local NGOs to distribute food aid.

At this stage, local community leaders work closely with WFP to ensure rations reach the people who need it most: mothers, pregnant women, children and the elderly.


WFP reports about its activities, achievements and challenges throughout all phases of an emergency. You can find an overview of the different reports here. They are posted on the respective country pages of this website.

ICT in Emergencies

Expert engineers from FITTEST (Fast Information Technology and Telecommunications Emergency and Support Team) can be dispatched to emergencies with all the equipment necessary to get WFP communications up and running within 48 hours.