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Digital foundations report
An overview of how digital innovation, technology and data analysis are foundational to WFP’s work in action – from the COVID-19 response to climate change, social protection, and conflict.
David Beasley, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director photographed with the C-17 shortly after it arrived in Accra, Ghana“In 2020 alone, we achieved more than US$138 million in cost savings partly attributable to digital transformation, with automation and a major connectivity upgrade saving hundreds of hours of employee time. Every dollar we save can mean an added four meals for a child. This is a tremendous incentive for us all to go even further and be even better.”

- David Beasley, WFP Executive Director

 

Under the leadership of the Executive Director, digitalization has been an organizational priority at WFP for the past five years, helped by a decades-long heritage of innovation in the field. Guided by a vision that has people at its heart, WFP is harnessing the benefits of digital transformation in all its operations. From school meals programmes to emergency response, climate change mitigation to support for smallholder farmers, we are seeking out new approaches, tools and systems that enable us to do more in the fight against hunger.

  1. Hani Mohamed (24) uses her mobile phone to order food from an online E-shop at a WFP food distribution Centre at K4 area in Mogadishu. Photo: WFP/Ismail Taxta
    Technology, innovation and data are indeed enablers of humanitarian and development work, but they must be shaped and guided by a clear vision that has people at its centre. For WFP, this is achieving a world with zero hunger by 2030.
  2. WFP Warehouse where food commodities are stored and transported to distribution sites. © WFP/Zakaria Thaij
    Real-time data and analytics go hand in hand with WFP’s global operations, helping to optimize supply chains, coordinate shipments for the global humanitarian community, and procure food cost-effectively.
  3. Antonio Beleza, National Institute for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction (INGD) (left) and Domingos Reane, World Food Programme, conduct a drone assessment in the wake of tropical storm Eloise. Photo: © Mercy Air/Matthias Reuter.
    WFP leverages drones and machine learning to quickly assess damage after natural disasters. We also invest in apps, insurance and microfinance solutions for smallholder farmers vulnerable to the longer-term effects of climate change.
  4. WFP's EMPACT digital skills trainings is helping young refugees and the communities hosting them to build a brighter future and have better livelihoods. Yasser is based in Iraq and now self-employed thanks to the training he received. © WFP/Mohammed Abbas
    By training young people in digital skills, WFP's EMPACT programme connects refugee communities with opportunities in the digital economy - building resilience and aiding recovery from conflict-related food insecurity.
  5. Zambia. Mulumbwa at the mobile money kiosk withdrawing WFP cash assistance
    Mobile money, blockchain and other innovative digital platforms help to make WFP's assistance programmes more efficient, while transforming lives by providing the dignity of choice and financial inclusion.
  6. Mothers at Nutrition Centre, Afghanistan. WFP/Julian Frank
    HungerMapLIVE is an open-access platform that displays near real-time food security information for 90 countries, contextualized with data on conflicts, populations and weather.

Challenges & opportunities

  1. computer icon
    Data responsibility, governance and cyber-security are paramount, to minimize digital risks and harms.
  2. computer icon
    WFP invests in strategic partnerships with companies and academic organizations for access to software, products and professional skills.
  3. computer icon
    Digital cooperation and collaboration within the UN and humanitarian sector will help scale transformational solutions and reduce redundancy.

The Great Enablers