How World Food Programme, 2020 Nobel Peace Prize winner, feeds the hungry
Winning the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize
According to a report by AFP, the UN's World Food Programme, which won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, delivers food assistance in emergencies, from wars to civil conflicts, natural disasters and famines. Here are some facts about the Rome-based organisation. Created in 1962 on the request of US President Dwight Eisenhower as an experiment to provide food aid through the UN system, WFP had only existed a few months when an earthquake struck northern Iran. Over 12,000 people died. WFP sent survivors 1,500 metric tons of wheat, 270 tons of sugar and 27 tons of tea.
Becoming a full-fledged programme
Others soon needed its help: a typhoon made landfall in Thailand; war refugees needed feeding in Algeria. In 1963 WFP's first school meals project was born. In 1965, the agency became a fully-fledged UN programme. By 2019, it would come to assist 97 million people in 88 countries. WFP says that on any given day it has 5,600 trucks, 30 ships and nearly 100 planes on the move. It distributes over 15 billion rations of food yearly.
Working in conflict affected areas
WFP focuses on emergency assistance as well as rehabilitation and development aid. Two-thirds of its work is in conflict-affected countries, where people are three times more likely to be undernourished than elsewhere. It works closely with the other two Rome-based UN agencies: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which helps countries draw up policy and change legislation to support sustainable agriculture, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which finances projects in poor rural areas.
Voluntary donations to the rescue
WFP is funded entirely by voluntary donations, most of which comes from governments. It raised $8 billion in 2019, which it says was used to provide 4.2 million metric tons of food and $2.1 billion of cash and vouchers. It has more than 17,000 staff, with 90 percent based in the countries where the agency provides assistance. There are few places where the WFP has not provided assistance. In western Sahel in the 1970s, ravaged by drought, it used "everything in its power - from car to camel, from road to river - to assist those in need".
Feeding the hungry
But WFP's largest emergency response has been in Yemen, where it tries to feed 13 million people each month. Over 821 million people in the world are chronically hungry, while another 135 million are facing severe hunger or starvation, and an additional 130 million could join them by the end of 2020 due to coronavirus, the agency warns. The number of severely food insecure people in the world had already risen nearly 70 percent over the past four years, and the economic fallout from the virus pandemic is expected to spark "a hunger pandemic", WFP said.