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12 things you didn’t know about the World Food Programme

Winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize in pictures
, Peyvand Khorsandi
Mozambique: Schoolgirls in Beira taking home rations before schools were closed in April. Photo: Karel Prinsloo/Arete/UN Mozambique

By Paul Anthem, Simona Beltrami and Mert Er

As the world's biggest humanitarian organization picks up a Nobel Peace Prize — working with UN sister agencies, other partners and donors — here are a few things about us you might want to know:


WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency, assisting 100 million people in 88 countries.

Haiti: Admin officer Chiara Camassa at WFP's warehouse in Port-au-Prince. Photo: WFP/Antoine Vallas


Each day we have up to 5,600 trucks, 30 ships and 100 planes on the move, delivering food and other assistance in some of the most remote and challenging parts of the world.

Democratic Republic of Congo: WFP provides essential air transportation and other logistical support to the humanitarian community. Photo: WFP/Jean Pierre Kitungwa
Democratic Republic of Congo: WFP facilitates United Nations Humanitarian Air Service flights. Photo: WFP/John Wessels


WFP is the frontline agency responding to emergencies caused by conflict, climate shocks, pandemics and other disasters. We are tackling ongoing emergencies in 20 countries or regions, the majority fuelled by conflict.

Bangladesh: Cash grants allotted before floods hit allow families to prepare. Photo: WFP/Sayed Asif Mahmud


We provide school meals to 17.3 million children, improving both their nutrition and their access to a potentially life-changing education. Since 1990 we have built the capacity of national governments, with more than 40 taking over school meal programmes.

Kyrgyzstan: Free meals inspire parents to make sure their children attend schools such as this one in the village Dyikan. Photo: WFP/Daniil Usmanov


Contributions to WFP have increased in recent years, and in 2019 we reached a record level of US$ 8bn — but we still have a US$ 4.1 billion funding gap. Rising needs aligned to the high cost of assisting people amidst drawn-out conflicts, climate-relate disasters and the coronavirus pandemic mean we need increased financial support more than ever.

People's Republic of Congo: A woman in Brazzaville waits her turn to buy groceries with WFP urban cash transfers. Photo: WFP/Alice Rahmoun


WFP connects smallholder farmers to markets in more than 40 countries. In 2019 we bought US$ 37.2 million worth of food from smallholders, who produce most of the world's food.

Laos: Members of the Akha community at a WFP food distribution site in Luang Namtha region. Photo: WFP/Vilakhone Sipaseuth


127,000 hectares of land was developed and 7,000 hectares of forests were planted in 2019 under WFP's Food Assistance for Assets initiative, which improves people's long-term food security and resilience to climate change.

Chine: The first batch of WFP supplies, including 50 sets of non-invasive ventilators, reach Wuhan on 13 March. Photo courtesy of Yingshi Zhang


WFP delivered 4.2 million metric tonnes of food in 2019, the equivalent weight of 840,000 Asian elephants.

Nigeria: WFP staffer Elizabeth Adejoh at work in Makoko, the world's largest floating slum, in Lagos. Photo: WFP/Damilola Onafuwa


More than three quarters of the food we buy comes from developing countries, saving time and money on transport costs and helping sustain and grow local economies.

Syria: Mothers in rural Deir Ez-Zor wait to collect food from a WFP assistance point. Photo: WFP/Jessica Lawson


WFP is the largest cash provider in the humanitarian community. US$ 2.1bn of assistance was provided this way in 64 countries in 2019. Cash increases consumer choice and strengthens local markets.

Colombia: WFP and World Vision provide 5,000 food baskets to Colombians and migrants in Soacha, near Bogotá. Photo: WFP/Mathias Roed


WFP is helping 15 countries to forecast extreme climate events and trigger preventive action before vulnerable families are hit by disasters. Cash transfers ahead of floods, droughts and storms allow people in harms' way to evacuate assets and livestock, reinforce homesteads, and buy food, seeds and emergency items so they are better prepared to deal with a food crisis.

Yemen: 4-year-old Omar sits on bags of WFP flour in Khawlan. Photo: WFP/Mohammed Awadh


More than 50% of the people WFP serves are women and girls. In 2019, 60% of the participants in the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative were women. This enabled 56,102 women across seven countries to better manage their climate risks with insurance policies that protect from a range of risks to their livelihoods.

Zimbabwe: Farmer Rebecca received WFP assistance after her maize crop failed earlier this year. Photo: WFP/Claire Nevill

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