Meet the hidden heroes of humanitarian aid
Flexible and reliable funds are among WFP’s most valued assets
Last year the world faced an unprecedented crisis of ‘four looming famines’ — two of which were in East Africa. In February 2017, famine was declared in parts of South Sudan as 100,000 people faced starvation and a further 1 million were at risk. After three consecutive failed rains resulted in a devastating drought, the threat of another famine declaration in Somalia was very real. The continuing conflict in South Sudan also put huge pressure on its neighbours — with an estimated 2.4 million South Sudanese refugees in the region.
While these emergencies got global attention, there were other ‘silent crises’ across the region too, including drought in Ethiopia and Kenya and rising needs in Burundi. In 2017, the World Food Programme (WFP) assisted over 20 million vulnerable and hungry people across East and Central Africa.
As a voluntarily funded organization, WFP constantly aims to maximize the money it receives and to assist as many people in need as it can, all the while ensuring value for money to its partners and supporters.
Flexible and reliable funds are among WFP’s most valued assets. WFP is reliant on flexible support to ensure uninterrupted protection and assistance to people in crises.
Enabling a quick response
As the gap between needs and funds continues to widen, flexible funding — where the donor empowers WFP with the decision of where funding is most needed — is indispensable in giving WFP the ability to respond effectively to emergencies and the agility to best manage programmes.
By directing flexible resources to projects with the most pressing needs, WFP can ensure a degree of continuity in its activities, avoiding destructive breaks in the supply of food to the people it helps. It can also be used as a catalyst for new initiatives and bridging important projects, while longer-term directed commitments are being finalized.
Allowing WFP to allocate donations according to prevailing priorities reflects multilateral donors’ trust in WFP’s ability to plan, prioritize and deliver.
WFP East and Central Africa sincerely thanks all multilateral donors for this vote of confidence that enabled us throughout the year to use their funding when and where it was needed most.
“The strength of the humanitarian community lies in its ability to respond quickly and efficiently to crises, and perhaps most importantly, the capacity to remain agile,” explains Ronald Sibanda, acting Regional Director for WFP East and Central Africa. “We are grateful for all funds from our donors that allow us the flexibility to move fast to help the people who rely on us. Our region has witnessed first-hand the need to respond quickly multiple times just in the last year.”
WFP’s Top 10 Multilateral Donors: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
For a list of all our multilateral donors please click here
Below are a few examples of how flexible funding has helped us save and change lives of the most vulnerable people in the region.
Sustaining the School Meals Programme in Djibouti
In partnership with the Government of Djibouti, WFP supports a school meals programme, which enables all school-aged children in rural areas and semi-urban areas of Djibouti city to have access to basic education. School meals help to increase enrolment and attendance at schools. Many children in Djibouti rely on WFP’s school feeding programmes as their only guaranteed food every day, which protects them against hunger and malnutrition.
Salsabila, 11 years old, from Dickhil in Djibouti was a winner of the 2017 global WFP Children’s Design Competition and is one of the children benefiting from these programmes. Salsabila and 17,000 children receive a morning snack and a hot lunch. WFP also provides take-home rations of vegetable oil to girls like Salsabila in grades three to five to encourage parents to send their daughters to school.
Following the 2015–16 El Niño event, donor attention shifted to responding to the impact of the drought and funding for the school meals programme faced critical shortfalls in March 2017. WFP was able to bridge this funding crisis with flexible funding from multilateral donors, ensuring the kids continued to receive hot meals every day at school.
Scaling up support in Somalia
In early 2017 over 3 million Somalis faced critical levels of hunger due to persistent drought in the region. With the food and nutrition situation rapidly deteriorating, WFP together with other humanitarian partners had to act quickly to avert a possible famine. Being able to use flexible funds allowed WFP to deploy and act fast, providing emergency relief while also maintaining basic physical assets to hinder further deterioration. The immediate and targeted response helped mitigate the impact of the disaster on the most vulnerable groups and protect the development investments that were made in areas such as health, education and infrastructure.
Thanks to use of both multilateral and direct funds WFP succeeded in scaling up its food and cash assistance by over four times in only three months, managing to reach 2.3 million people by April 2017.
Read more on WFP’s work in Somalia to avert famine
Avoiding ration cuts in Rwanda
Two years ago, Beatrice Hagenimana and her family arrived in Mahama refugee camp in the Eastern Province of Rwanda.
“I had to leave Burundi. People wanted to kill us, we had no other choice. I really want to go back, but it is not possible. The situation is still very insecure,’’ she says.
Since 2015, more than 80,000 Burundian refugees have crossed the border into Rwanda, fleeing violence and insecurity. Also, on the other border with DR Congo, violence had pushed over 73,000 Congolese to Rwanda. With limited access to livelihood activities, around 130,000 camp-based refugees continue to depend on humanitarian assistance. The needs are vast but funding is running low as global crises overwhelm donor countries’ capacity to give.
“Life in the camp is not easy. We get food from WFP every month, but it is barely enough. And since we get even less food now, things are getting worse. It is very hard to find food for my family,’’ Beatrice explains.
The international community has been very generous, but the funding gap remained vast and ration cuts to the refugees were imminent. With timely access to contributions from multilateral donors in late 2017, WFP managed to keep the ration reduction to 10 percent in November and December 2017 (although further cuts of 25 percent were unavoidable for the first months of 2018). The contribution was also instrumental in maintaining full rations for nutrition support to vulnerable refugees including children under five years of age, pregnant and nursing mothers as well as people living with HIV and tuberculosis patients.
Given that the refugee camp population in Rwanda is highly dependent on humanitarian food assistance to meet their basic food needs, WFP is hopeful that international contributions will allow return to full rations for the refugees soon.