How food and cash from the European Union provide life-saving regular support to Somali refugees in Ethiopia until they can get back on track

Hinda and Sumaya. Photo: WFP/Edward Johnson

Hinda was born in eastern Ethiopia 25 years ago to Somali parents. Violence in Somalia prompted them to seek shelter across the border. Hinda has never stepped foot inside Somalia. She’s never left Somali region where her parents settled. She’s an animated woman with an answer for everything and grins every time she looks into the eyes of her eight-month daughter Sumaya.

But when I ask her about her ambitions and hopes for Sumaya, she pauses, looks down and says:“I want to go home, but I don’t know where that is.”

I met Hinda sheltering from the noon sun at…


The World Food Programme is working with partners to create a healthcare supply chain that provides education and assistance

A WFP vehicle in Jijiga in the Somali region of Ethiopia in 2015. In addition to food assistance, WFP works with partners to provide services such as HIV testing and counselling. Photo: WFP/Petterik Wiggers

The World Food Programme (WFP) has a phenomenal operation in the Horn of Africa, the eastermost part of the continent. Its biggest operation is in Ethiopia where over 7 million people rely on food assistance each day. In any given week, over 4,000 metric tons of food are on the move onboard a fleet of trucks that navigate more than 126,000 kilometres of road in the country of 105 million people.

To move great quantities of food fast, a seamlessly functioning network of drivers and corridors is needed. …


Weather index-based insurance is allowing rural families to look after themselves while keeping their livestock healthy

Ibrahim earns extra cash transporting firewood into town. Photo: WFP/Edward Johnson

The braying donkeys staring into the distance, crisscrossing cart tracks and shuffling shoats (hybrid sheep-goats), are clues that the inhabitants of the sandy Shambal village really depend on their livestock.

Shambal is 15 kilometres — or half a day’s walk— from Dollo Ado town on the Ethiopia’s border with Somalia. The 170 families living there have few employment opportunities. They rely on incomes from subsistence farming, transporting goods on carts and collecting firewood to sell or barter with.

But while the land is so important, the community has been unable to use it to its full potential after two bad…


The Bekaa Valley is the agricultural heartland of Lebanon where many people own cows. But, as one man explains, not everyone knows how to make the most of their bovine family.

Ali’s cash cow, Sabah. Photo: WFP/Edward Johnson

Ali has lived in the Bekaa all his life. He met his wife there and raised five children there. They live in a small functional house he built using pallets and remnants from nearby construction sites. There are also a couple of ramshackle dwellings behind where a handful of chickens and a cow named Sabah — Arabic for morning — live.

As his wife was occupied raising the children and Ali’s sight and hearing deteriorated over recent years, employment opportunities have dwindled. …


With German funding, WFP-supported sewing classes are stitching skills and ambition together in Lebanon

There are 18 women in a classroom, surrounded by a colourful sea of fabric, needles, spools of thread and scissors. They are participants in a sewing class run by Lebanese non-governmental organisation Multi Aid Programs (MAPS).

Lebanese and Syrian participants sit side by side in the classroom. Photo: WFP/Edward Johnson

For three days a week over two months, the women attend the blended theoretical and practical haberdashery classes in MAPS’ training centre in the Bekaa Valley. Beside the main road from Beirut to Damascus, the school is home to a swathe of livelihoods classes like this one, all funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). …


A World Food Programme (WFP) construction project brings hope to smallholder farmers and boosts small agribusinesses in Lebanon’s Chouf.

Behind a table stacked with crates of fruit and vegetables, sits 63-year-old farmer Ghazi. He talks about his dream of a bigger table, that groans under the weight of jars of his homemade jams. He has had the dream of mass-selling his produce for years, but hadn’t able to access his fields without a huge trek. With age, that trek has become more troublesome, and combined with unreliable irrigation, he’s had to put a dampener on his artisinal ambitions and make do with the few crops he can harvest.

That all is history now after the completion of a WFP’s…


A family having to flee conflict and ending up in Lebanon is not unheard of. What is uncommon though is discovering that the conflict was not the one next door in Syria.

Ibrahim at home with his son and daughter. Photo: WFP/Edward Johnson

Thirteen years ago, Ibrahim and his wife had a difficult choice to make; stay in Sudan and risk death amid violent clashes or flee.

After a brutal journey and a multitude of administrative hurdles, the couple arrived in Lebanon. Now they live in a compact but comfy three-room apartment overlooking Beirut and have two children Morsi and Nadia.

“My kids know they’re not Lebanese, but they’re not really Sudanese either.”

In Lebanon, the World Food Programme (WFP) primarily provides food assistance for vulnerable Lebanese and Syrians in the form of cash. …


One hundred families live in Industrial City; that’s the moniker refugees have given to a ramshackle metropolis of plastic sheeting, timber frames and damp clothing flapping in the dusty wind. In the shadows of cement factories, each family has a different story to tell, none of which are easy to hear.

Fatima and five of her children. Photo: WFP/Ziad Rizkallah

Fatima sits on a grubby mat beneath a whirring electric fan. There’s nothing else in the room since she sold most of belongings to buy food and pay rent. There’s just one other room — a dark and damp kitchen-cum bathroom. This is where Fatima lives with her six children.

Back in 2013, newly married mother of one, Fatima, lived in rural Aleppo. She spent her evenings listening to crickets and sipping tea with her husband. They’d talk about growing old together, and the songs they’d teach their grandchildren.

One night, Fatima’s bucolic safe space was destroyed and life turned…


Shopkeepers in Lebanon do. (The answer is at the end)

The World Food Programme (WFP) knows that in many contexts around the world, populations can be served better through markets than with in-kind food. In Lebanon, WFP’s supply chain unit works with 450 shops to remove market inefficiencies, improve access to shops, lower prices and improve shopping experiences. Those changes — made for all shoppers, not just recipients of WFP’s assistance — are the core of WFP’s retail engagement strategy.

By giving shops a mandatory price range, introducing them to preferred wholesalers where retailers aggregate demand to leverage negotiation power, and through a smartphone app — Dalili — which provides…


In Lebanon, there’s plenty of milk produced. The dairy industry is huge. And, thanks to the World Food Programme (WFP), it’s a staple on shelves in homes, schools and shops across the country supporting the sustainability of the dairy sector, economic development, livelihoods and nutrition.

Lebanese milk in one of WFP’s 450 contracted shops in Lebanon. Photo: WFP/Edward Johnson

WFP’s expansive food assistance programme in Lebanon is largely cash-based; this means that the people we serve receive credit on e-cards they use to buy food in contracted shops. They have freedom and choice to buy what they need whenever they need it and this includes giving them access to fresh produce and dairy products.

Edward Johnson

Communications guy at @wfp #Ethiopia. Into all things food. My views. #ZeroHunger

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