WFP at a glance
[Updated 9 November 2020]
WFP works to save and change the lives of 100 million people in 88 countries. WFP is among the first on the scene in an emergency, providing food and other assistance to the victims of conflict, drought, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and crop failures, as well as pandemics such as the current global outbreak of COVID-19. At the same time, we keep a sharp focus on sustainable development, providing governments with the support and skills to manage food security in the long term.
Nobel Peace Prize
The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to WFP in October 2020 reflects our strong advocacy for the critical role of peace in ending hunger, and for the use of food as a tool for peace.
Conflict and insecurity are key drivers of hunger. Many of the people WFP supports are fleeing conflict, and have been forced to abandon their land, homes and jobs. This award increases WFP's opportunity to provide a stronger voice to the 690 million hungry people in the world and to mobilize support for the food assistance that they need.
- WFP is funded entirely by voluntary donations, with a record US$8 billion raised in 2019 — still 4.5 billion short of requirements.
- The average cost of a WFP ration is US$0.61.
- WFP has more than 19,600 staff, of whom 87 percent are field based.
In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, 690 million people — nearly 9 per cent of the world's population — still go to bed hungry each night.
After nearly a decade of progress, the number of hungry people has slowly increased — driven by the twin scourges of conflict and climate change. COVID-19 has compounded the challenges facing countries, with WFP estimating that up to 270 million people will be under severe threat in 2020 without action to tackle the pandemic.
While Asia is home to the greatest number of undernourished people at 381 million, Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment in percentage terms, at just over 19 percent. This is more than double the rate in Asia (8.3 percent) and in Latin America and the Caribbean (7.4 percent). On current trends, by 2030, Africa will be home to more than half of the world's chronically hungry, according to the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.
COVID-19 threatens millions of people already vulnerable to food insecurity, malnutrition and the effects of conflict and climate-related and other disasters. WFP estimates that the lives and livelihoods of up to 270 million people will be under severe threat in 2020, without rapid and adequate support.
We have stepped up our food and cash distributions to help communities cope with the immediate effects, while reducing risks through measures such as staggered collections. Take-home rations are provided for children missing school. WFP is also supporting governments in areas including data collection and analysis, and policy and advocacy support, as well as with national safety nets such as food and cash.
COVID-19 has caused global disruptions to the transport systems and links that health and humanitarian responders would normally rely on. WFP, with long-standing experience and vast expertise in emergency response and logistics and supply chain, is working with the World Health Organization, the UN system, the NGO community and governments, using its logistics capacity and expertise to step in and provide services where commercial networks are not working. In this way we ensure that critical health and humanitarian cargo and personnel can reach the places where they are most needed.
WFP's core themes
Emergency response* and preparedness
WFP is the frontline agency responding to emergencies caused by conflict, climate shocks, pandemics and other disasters. Our focus is also on emergency preparedness, working with partners to provide early warning and helping communities lessen the impact of looming disasters.
- Each day WFP has up to 5,600 trucks, 30 ships and 100 planes on the move, delivering food and other assistance.
(*See also ‘Current emergencies' section below)
Climate shocks such as droughts and floods can wipe out crops, disrupt markets and destroy roads and bridges. WFP is working with governments and humanitarian partners on the frontlines, responding to an increasing number of disasters. At the same time, we take pre-emptive action which reduces the number of people needing humanitarian assistance.
WFP deploys Forecast-based Financing to provide cash to vulnerable families, allowing them to buy food, reinforce their homes and take other steps to build resilience ahead of climate disasters. This approach was used ahead of torrential rains in Bangladesh in July 2019.
- In 2018, after hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean, WFP set up an office in Barbados to support preparedness. Before Hurricane Dorian made landfall in August 2019, WFP had deployed technical experts to support a rapid needs assessment. WFP airlifted storage units, generators and prefab offices. It also provided satellite equipment to ensure connectivity, as well as fortified food.
- WFP has planted 6 billion trees in partnership with FAO over the past 50 years, and restored or forested 1.4 million hectares of land since 2014.
Sustainable development is only possible in communities where malnutrition is eradicated and future generations can flourish. WFP has broadened its focus in recent years from emergency interventions to addressing all forms of malnutrition including vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and overweight and obesity.
WFP addresses malnutrition from the earliest stages through programmes targeting the first 1,000 days from conception to a child's second birthday. We provide access to healthy diets, targeting young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people living with HIV.
WFP is the largest humanitarian organization implementing school feeding. School meals improve children's nutrition and health, while also increasing access to a potentially life-changing education. Home-grown school feeding sources food from millions of smallholder farmers, increasing their incomes and boosting local economies.
WFP and UNICEF are joining forces under a renewed commitment to millions of vulnerable children. The initiative will focus on supporting governments in adopting an integrated approach to schoolchildren's nutrition and health, incorporating school feeding, nutrition, deworming, and water, sanitation and hygiene.
- WFP provided school meals to 17.3 million children in 2019.
- More than 40 governments have taken over school meals programmes since 1990.
Smallholder farmers produce most of the world's food and are critical in achieving a zero-hunger world. WFP's support to farmers spans a range of activities to help build sustainable food systems, from business-skills training to opening up roads to markets.
- WFP connects smallholder farmers to markets in more than 40 countries.
- WFP procured 96,600 mt from smallholder farmers for a total of US$37.2 million in 2019, which contributed directly to the smallholders' livelihoods.
WFP's Food Assistance for Assets programme improves the prospects for long-term food security, while helping create conditions for peace. People receive food or cash to meet immediate food needs, which frees up their time for working on community assets or livelihood resources that can increase resilience to climate change and improve access to markets.
- Through food assistance for assets programmes in 2019, nearly 134,000 ha of land and forest was rehabilitated or replanted and more than 50,000 community assets such as community infrastructure, roads and water points were built or rehabilitated.
WFP is the largest cash provider in the humanitarian community. Cash provides better value for people and donors, allowing for increased food choices and diet diversity for beneficiaries while boosting local smallholder production, retail and the financial sector.
- US$2.1 billion was transferred through cash, value vouchers and commodity vouchers in 64 countries in 2019.
Through its Country Strategic Plans, WFP is transferring its skills and knowledge to a range of public, private and civil society actors who are pivotal to sustaining national policies and programmes. We are building governments' and other partners' capacities to manage disaster risk and improve food security, while also investing in early warning and preparedness systems for climate and other threats.
- WFP is training government staff in Ethiopia in the use of drones for activities such as mapping flood-risk zones and assessing damage to crops after disasters — building their abilities to deploy the technology without WFP's assistance.
- In Bangladesh, we provided training to staff from the NGO Social Assistance and Rehabilitation for the Physically Vulnerable, so they could implement a community-based nutrition project.
WFP's digital transformation is about embracing new technologies and data that will help realize the goal of zero hunger by 2030. In 2019, WFP's Munich-based Innovation Accelerator sourced and supported 13 new innovations to disrupt hunger, growing the portfolio to more than 60 projects spanning 45 countries, with 11 scaling up to reach 1.4 million people.
- In Jordan, we deploy blockchain technology that allows more than 100,000 Syrian refugees to buy groceries from local shops using iris scans instead of cash, paper vouchers or credit cards.
- H2Grow allows people threatened by hunger to grow their own food in harsh conditions, using saline solutions instead of soil, in seven countries. In the Algerian desert, more than 200 hydroponic units are producing animal fodder which boosts the milk and meat yield of goats. This is turn improves food security for some of the thousands of Sahrawi refugees.
Current highest-level emergencies
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Needs continue to grow with 21.8 million people acutely food insecure— a consequence of escalating conflict and displacement, disease, economic decline, natural hazards and COVID-19. Conflict and inter-ethnic violence — some allegedly amounting to war crimes — forced 1.4 million civilians from their homes in eastern DRC in the first half of 2020, aggravating already complex displacement and hunger crises. Parts of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu were notable hotspots. COVID-19 and associated lockdowns inflicted earnings losses and joblessness on a large scale, especially among the urban poor. Intended recipients of WFP assistance in 2020 include an additional 1.5 million people hit hard by the pandemic. See also: Emergency page.
A combination of escalating conflict and COVID-19 could spell a hunger catastrophe for millions of Nigerians living in the north-east. Millions are already facing dangerous levels of hunger as their lives and livelihoods are being severely disrupted by non-state armed groups vying with each other and fighting against government forces for control of territory. WFP is expanding its assistance into COVID-19 hotspots in cities in Kano, Abuja and Lagos, where lockdowns and movement restrictions have severely affected people's sources of livelihood and created extreme levels of vulnerability. See also: Emergency page
The Central Sahel — encompassing Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger — is facing a serious food and nutrition crisis, with some people in parts of northern Burkina Faso on the verge of a hunger catastrophe. A total 7.4 million people in the region don't know where their next meal will come from. With the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19, the number of food-insecure people could rise to 13 million by the end of 2020, according WFP analyses. We have scaled up to meet this challenge but while our capacity to respond is strong, our financial outlook is grim — WFP urgently needs US$ 135.7 million to respond to the growing needs. Emergency page
Humanitarian conditions are rapidly deteriorating, and the prospect of high levels of hunger looms over the country as conflict, torrential rain and flooding disrupt people's access to food. Despite a peace agreement, violence is posing the greatest risk to food security, as families lose their homes, livelihoods and loved ones. Since 2015, there have been at least 30 pockets of famine-like conditions related to fighting in Jonglei State, the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, as well as in Warrap and Lakes states. COVID-19 continues to undermine the already fragile humanitarian situation. WFP is currently assisting 5 million people with various kinds of assistance. Emergency page
As food prices continue to soar, the economic downturn is putting immense pressures on the country's most vulnerable families who have nothing left after years of conflict. A record 9.3 million Syrians are now food insecure and without ongoing support. Almost exactly one-third of the country, 6.7 million people, are internally displaced and are highly vulnerable as they have been forced to relocate, sometimes repeatedly throughout years of conflict. The number of COVID cases in Syria is rapidly increasing. WFP is supporting families across the country — including pregnant and nursing mothers — to purchase soap and hygiene items to stay healthy during the pandemic. WFP delivered food and nutrition assistance to 4.9 million people in September 2020. See also: Emergency page
When Yemen faced famine in 2018, a massive scale-up of WFP operations was able to bring it back from the brink. However, the country again risks sliding into famine if prolonged disruptions to food supplies materialize. Yemen is facing multiple threats, comprising conflict across more than 40 frontlines, a looming economic collapse, the effects of COVID-19 and a fuel crisis. A total 24.3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020. WFP needs over US$500 million to continue delivering food assistance to millions who rely on us for their survival, over the next six months. Emergency page
#StopTheWaste is a movement for change which highlights the global issue of food waste and simple solutions we can all take to prevent it. Globally, one-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, amounting to about 1.3 billion metric tons per year. The financial costs of food wastage amount to about US$1 trillion each year. This is clearly a challenge we must solve as we work towards achieving zero hunger by 2030.
Funding in 2019
Total contributions: US$8 billion (A record) Total budgetary needs: US$12.1 billion
Top 5 donors in 2019
USA: US$3.4 billion Germany: US$886.6 million United Kingdom: US$698.6 million European Commission: US$685.6 million Saudi Arabia: US$386.7 million
WFP Aviation manages the only UN-mandated air transport service, the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). The service connects the entire humanitarian and development community to people in need, reaching more than 300 destinations among the hardest-to-reach, most remote and dangerous locations on earth. It also ensures an uninterrupted delivery of supplies when other transport is disrupted by insecurity or damaged roads or other infrastructure, and where almost no other commercial airline is flying.
UNHAS supported humanitarian responses to some of the world's most pressing emergencies in 2019, including Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique, the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, destructive floods across East Africa, the humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel region of Africa where conflict and climate extremes have combined to devastating effect, and amidst the ruinous, ongoing conflict in Yemen, where UNHAS is the only common air transport that can access the restricted skies. UNHAS transported 400,000 passengers and 3,000 metric tons of cargo in 2019, serving around 700 humanitarian agencies.
Latest information and resources: Overview, Hunger, Conflict, and Improving the Prospects for Peace, Emergency Response and Preparedness, Humanitarian Development (factsheets), 12 things you didn't know about the World Food Programme, wfp.org, Insight.