A smartphone app created by WFP in Somalia to deliver food assistance, might now be saving lives during the coronavirus pandemic

A family checks out at a shop in Dolow, a small town in Southern Somalia. Photo: WFP/Tobin Jones

Empty shelves in local supermarkets around the world were one of the visible signs of the gravity of COVID-19. While panic often drives people to hoard supplies, the wide use of online delivery apps has sheltered many from shortages.

But for communities where fear of hunger was already present before the pandemic, empty shelves can feel like a living nightmare. It is in countries such as Somalia —already hit by conflict, food insecurity and under-resourced public health systems — where people are most vulnerable to the virus and its multiple effects, including empty shelves.

A coronavirus outbreak in Somalia —…


Two World Food Programme (WFP) retailers from host and refugee communities in Kakuma, Kenya share common ground

Manalio’s shop is contracted by WFP to serve refugees with cash-based assistance. WFP cash-based assistance injects about US 3.2 million into Kenya’s economy monthly. Photo: WFP/Kelly Stablein

Manalio wakes when sunlight peeks through the tarp walls of her shelter in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. Seven children stretch and rise from one mat sprawled beneath a tin roof. The youngest daughter, just 2 days old, is bundled to her chest for the walk.

It’s not always easy for a Congolese woman like her to blend in on this side of camp which lies on the edge of the local community. …


A peek into Mahama Camp where around 60,000 people who’ve escaped neighbouring countries gain the skills to start a new life

Lunch break at school in Mahama Camp — the largest refugee camp in Rwanda. Photo: WFP/Laurent Blime

At dawn in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, when the sun has just barely returned to the sky, a stark white UN vehicle full of humanitarian workers makes its way to the border with Tanzania.

The vehicle moves in a dance with Kigali streets, as motorbikes erratically swerve in every direction. Gradually, the symphony of traffic horns drowns out in the distance as they make their way deeper into the Mars-red backdrop of rural Rwanda.

After 167 kilometres down dusty, unpaved roads, brick huts and tin roofs appear by the hundred in uniform rows. The vehicle has reached its destination.


Tracing the journey of World Food Programme (WFP) cash assistance to ensure that the market in Palestine can meet Yara’s food needs

“Be careful,” my colleague Majdi says as we drive through the rolling hills of Palestine, “The longer you stay, the harder it is to leave.” The nature of his warning is not as I expected.

“We call it Palestine syndrome,” he says chuckling to himself. A joke I’m sure rings close to heart after recently moving back to Palestine from abroad on a gut feeling. Majdi, like many Palestinians, adopts a light-hearted humor to reflect on this complex place he calls home.

On a sunny fall day in the West Bank, the market assessment begins on Yara’s street. Photo: WFP/Kelly Stablein

We drive through Majdi’s hometown, Hebron — a vibrant city often the spotlight of late night news. Passing…


How Syrian refugees and the World Food Programme created life and a healthy economy in a refugee camp in Jordan

It is 35 degrees outside, and you can feel the thick desert heat fill your pores. From inside Abu Mohamed’s air-conditioned home, drinking a cup of mint tea, it’s hard to tell that we are at a refugee camp.

Outside is grim and deserted with steel shelters peaking from the edges of a vacant nowhere. Inside, the home is colorful and filled with cushions worn from countless meals shared among family. There is life inside this home. But it wasn’t always like this.

Kelly Stablein

Writer, market coverage, @UN World Food Programme

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