The World Food Programme’s Initiatives Today and Amid COVID-19

SEATTLE, Washington — The World Food Programme, or the WFP, is the world’s largest humanitarian organization working to provide food assistance worldwide, particularly in times of crisis and among countries lacking food security. The WFP is the United Nations” food assistance branch and consists of more than 14,500 staff, 90% of which work in developing countries. Approximately 90 million people worldwide, 58 million of whom are children, benefit from the aid provided by the WFP. Here are the World Food Programme’s initiatives today and how it contributes to the global COVID-19 relief.

The Beginning of the World Food Programme

The organization was founded in 1961 following the Food and Agriculture Organization Conference in 1960. However, after a mandate from the U.N. General Assembly and the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the WFP was officially set to start its work. The central policies that dictate the role of the WFP are, “To save lives in refugee and other emergency situations […] to improve the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable people at critical times in their lives […] and to help build assets and promote the self-reliance of poor people and communities, particularly through [labor]-intensive works [programs].”

The World Food Programme’s Initiatives Today

The WFP has launched several initiatives and collaborated with many organizations, corporations and other U.N. partners to best fulfill its mission. In 2008, the WFP developed the Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative, which aimed to construct effective, sustainable grain market structures and facilitate connections between approximately 6,000 smallholder farmers and markets. The WFP accomplished this by enhancing linkages, information access and financial aid access as well as minimizing post-harvest losses.

The WFP has also worked to develop international fundraising events, such as Walk the World. Walk the World is an annual event where people worldwide walk together during a 24-hour period to raise money and bring awareness to global hunger. In 2006, more than 760,00 people participated in the event across 118 countries. While the event has discontinued, WFP was able to show the global efforts to end world hunger, with thousands participating each year it was active.

Moreover, WFP has also worked with businesses worldwide. In collaborating with YUM! Brands, the organization increased awareness of global hunger by developing World Hunger Relief Week. In 2007, the WFP utilized World Hunger Relief Week to kickstart a global movement to stop widespread hunger and to gain support from customers, franchisees and other employees through the aid of about 35,000 restaurants globally.

The World Food Programme’s New Goals Amid COVID-19

To respond to the socio-economic effects of COVID-19, the WFP has collaborated with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations, governments and various NGOs to provide essential food assistance to countries in need. Moreover, the WFP provides relief in countries most affected by the novel coronavirus by assisting communities with health care and resources.

Additionally, to aid impoverished countries’ response to COVID-19, the WFP is organizing data collection, policy and advocacy support and assisting governments. This includes collaborating with governments to enhance social protection programs geared toward addressing poverty issues and malnutrition, sustain the production of food and support national health systems. Ultimately, with several new global relief goals, the WFP continues its mission of addressing global hunger amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

—Aprile Bertomo
Photo: Flickr

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