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Energy is an engine of transformative socioeconomic opportunities that touches on every aspect of sustainable development and the ability to access energy is a fundamental enabler to achieving food security and zero hunger.

Not only is energy necessary to consume food – and most of the food that the World Food Programme (WFP) distributes to people in need requires cooking – but also throughout Food Systems to produce, process and preserve it.

WFP is implementing market-based, sustainable energy approaches that strengthen food assistance by providing people with the means to cook and communicate, and boost resilience activities that support local food value chains.

Energy For Food Security

Areas of work

Modern cooking

WFP is the largest humanitarian agency providing food assistance in emergencies and through school feeding programmes. Most of this food needs cooking, which is most often done on open fires with firewood and charcoal. Traditional cooking has dramatic consequences on the environment (deforestation), socio-economic development (fuel collection time or purchasing cost), and public health (respiratory diseases). WFP introduces improved, clean and modern cooking solutions to households and schools.

Vouchers for energy

Promoting  clean and modern  cooking solutions, such as gas stoves, mini-gasifiers or electric pressure  cookers,  through  WFP’s cash-based transfer approach, ensures that  the poorest  are not left behind.  It empowers vulnerable households to make choices that improve their food security and wellbeing. Also, by injecting cash into the local economy, this approach supports local retailers and energy service providers; it builds energy market systems creating the needed conditions for long term impact.

Energy in schools

WFP promotes clean and modern cooking in school kitchens leveraging its presence in thousands of schools where it delivers school feeding programmes. Better cooking practices reduce environmental impact and improve socio-economic outcomes. Where solar electrification is possible, it delivers additional benefits such as lighting, digital learning and refrigeration for fresh food and medicines. At the centre of communities, schools act to showcase and diffuse innovation to surrounding areas.

Energy for agriculture

WFP builds the resilience and livelihoods of smallholder farmers through inclusive agricultural growth and the sustainable dissemination of energy equipment and services to boost agricultural market development, which in turn strengthens local food value chains.

Productive uses of energy – food production

Energy access for productive uses increases efficiency and crop yields through mechanisation of land clearing, preparation and harvesting.  Water pumps allow for irrigation but also  oxygenation of fishponds  and water distribution and lifting  for hydroponic applications.

Productive uses of energy – food processing and preservation

Renewable energy systems can  also  sustainably power food processing tasks, such as milling, saving  time  and increasing the quality of the produce. Energy-powered  preservation (e.g.  drying, smoking and refrigerated storage)  reduces post-harvest food losses increasing the availability of nutritious foods and enabling farmers to control the timing of crop sales.