By Paul Anthem, Simona Beltrami and Mert Er
As the world’s biggest humanitarian organization picks up a Nobel Peace Prize — working with UN sister agencies, other partners and donors — here are a few things about us you might want to know:
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency, assisting 100 million people in 88 countries.
The World Food Programme has won the Nobel Prize for Peace, it was announced today.
“Every one of the 690 million hungry people in the world today has the right to live peacefully and without hunger,” said WFP’s Executive Director David Beasley, in a statement.
“Today, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has turned the global spotlight on them and on the devastating consequences of conflict.”
He added: “Climate shocks and economic pressures have further compounded their plight. And now, a global pandemic with its brutal impact on economies and communities, is pushing millions more to the brink of starvation.”
“I refused for a long time,” says Jenny Pearce, a political scientist at the London School of Economics specialising in Latin America, when I ask if she’s ever watched the Netflix series Narcos.
One weekend at a friend’s house in Mexico, with little to do one evening but watch TV, however, and the peace scholar — an expert on ‘violences’ in the region — bit the bullet.
“I have to say, I thought it was pretty well done,” she says, “though there were some issues — the things it didn’t show”.
World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley has warned that in addition to the threat posed by COVID-19, the world faces “multiple famines of biblical proportions” that could result in 300,000 deaths per day — a “hunger pandemic”.
Speaking at an online briefing broadcast by the UN on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, Beasley highlighted the fact that there are currently 821 million food-insecure people in the world. “If we don’t prepare and act now, to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade,” he said, the result could be a “humanitarian catastrophe … in a short few months”.
The fight to protect the most vulnerable countries from the coronavirus could “stutter to a halt”, leading humanitarian agencies have warned — only a quarter of the US$2 billion demanded by the joint COVID-19 Humanitarian Response Plan last month has come through.
In an open letter published on Monday, the World Food Programme (WFP) and 14 other humanitarian organizations urged donors to supply a further US$350 million to kickstart the “rapid scale-up” of logistics in the global emergency system.
“Humanity collectively faces its most daunting challenge since the Second World War,” the letter said. With a virus that doesn’t recognise…
African and European leaders have called for the World Food Programme (WFP) to spearhead the humanitarian response to COVID-19 in Africa, inviting an immediate moratorium on debt and unprecedented health and economic aid packages — otherwise “the pandemic will hit Africa particularly hard, prolonging the crisis globally”.
Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron were among 18 signatories recommending a stimulus package of US$100bn for the continent, in a letter published in the Financial Times on Tuesday (14 April), along with Moussa Faki, chair of the African Union Commission, and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.
As Coronavirus casts a gloom that has resulted in an unprecedented use of the word ‘unprecedented’ to describe an outbreak, I thought I’d go in search of some good news, to find a glimmer of cheer.
Ebola might be an odd subject to head to — between 2014 and 2016, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 11,310 people died after contracting the virus. Yet this figure would have been much higher were it not for the World Food Programme (WFP) venturing out of its traditional areas of expertise. And that’s the good news.
‘We are not doctors but we…
Nitesh Patel is worried, about Yemen and Sudan in particular. Should coronavirus get a foothold in either of these countries, the nutrition adviser — based at the World Food Programme (WFP) Cairo Regional Bureau — says the consequences will be catastrophic. In February, WFP delivered 14,000 metric tons of food to 2.2 million of Sudan’s population of 40 million.
“Malnourished children under-5 whose immunity is compromised by infections and other medical complications are on the front line,” he says. “Their parents by default are then at high risk of contracting the coronavirus.”
“We do not live well, we do not eat well, and we cannot even move around normally because of the chaos in the country,” says Osena Previlon, who grows fruit and vegetables on her small plot of land outside Gonaives, the largest city in Haiti’s Artibonite department.
Haiti ranks high among countries identified by the World Food Programme (WFP) as being at risk of descending further into crisis without a rapid response and greater investment in 2020.
Perhaps it will come as no surprise that the World Food Programme empowers women in Afghanistan by providing them with cash and vocational training in addition to food and nutritional assistance.
A cycling race, however— isn’t that a little off-track for WFP? “Not at all,” says Fezeh Hosseini, the organization’s Programme Policy Officer for Gender Equality in the country.
Senior Writer, UN World Food Programme