Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

Top 12 Things You Didn’t Know About the World Food Programme

World Food Programme
October 8, 2021

As the leaves start to fall and we enter the last months of 2021, we’re looking back at some of the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) greatest accomplishments in 2020, including picking up the Nobel Peace Prize. We’re the world’s largest humanitarian organization — working with U.N. sister agencies, other partners and donors — to deliver lifesaving food to the planet’s most vulnerable people. If you didn’t know us before, here are a few facts about the U.N. World Food Programme that might surprise you:

1.) The U.N. World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the world’s largest humanitarian agency, assisting over 100 million people in 84 countries.

UN WFP is the world's largest humanitarian organization
Photo: WFP/Antoine Vallas

Haiti: Admin officer Chiara Camassa at a U.N. World Food Programme’s warehouse in Port-au-Prince.

2.) Each day The U.N. World Food Programme has up to 5,600 trucks, 30 ships and 100 planes on the move, delivering food and other assistance in some of the most remote and challenging parts of the world.

WFP utilizes plains, ships, and trucks to deliver food all over the world.
Photo: WFP/Jean Pierre Kitungwa

Democratic Republic of Congo: The U.N. World Food Programme provides essential air transportation and other logistical support to the humanitarian community.


WFP planes and helicopters help deliver food relief to remote places.
Photo: WFP/John Wessels

Democratic Republic of Congo: The U.N. World Food Programme facilitates United Nations Humanitarian Air Service flights.

3.) The U.N. World Food Programme is the frontline agency responding to emergencies caused by conflict, climate shocks, pandemics and other disasters. We’re tackling ongoing emergencies in 20 countries or regions, the majority fueled by conflict.

World Food Programme provides cash for food, giving people purchasing power during emergencies and disasters
Photo: WFP/Sayed Asif Mahmud

Bangladesh: Cash grants allotted before floods hit allow families to prepare.

4.) The U.N. World Food Programme provides school meals to 15 million children, improving both their nutrition and their access to a potentially life-changing education. Since 1990, we’ve built the capacity of national governments, with more than 40 taking over school meal programs.

Children have access to nutrition and education through WFP's school meals program
Photo: WFP/Daniil Usmanov

Kyrgyzstan: Free meals inspire parents to make sure their children attend schools such as this one in the village Dyikan.

5.) Contributions to the U.N. World Food Programme have increased in recent years, and in 2020 reached a record level of $8.4 billion — but there is still a $5 billion funding gap. Rising needs due to the high cost of assisting people amidst drawn-out conflicts, climate-related disasters and the coronavirus pandemic mean that we need increased financial support now more than ever.

Hunger in places like the Congo are intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic
Photo: WFP/Alice Rahmoun

People’s Republic of Congo: A woman in Brazzaville waits her turn to buy groceries with U.N. World Food Programme urban cash transfers.

6.) The U.N. World Food Programme connects small-scale farmers to markets in more than 40 countries. Small-scale farmers produce most of the world’s food, and in 2020 we bought $49 million dollars’ worth of food from them.

WFP helps small scale farmers like these in Laos
Photo: WFP/Vilakhone Sipaseuth

Laos: Members of the Akha community at a U.N. World Food Programme food distribution site in Luang Namtha region.

7.)  Nearly 400,000 acres of land was rehabilitated and 4,450 acres of trees was planted under our Food Assistance for Assets initiative in 2020, which improves people’s long-term food security and resilience to climate change.

Climate change causes hunger by affecting crops, such as this flood in South Sudan
Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

South Sudan: A boy washes a saucepan in the flood waters of Aweil.

8.) The U.N. World Food Programme delivered 4.2 million metric tons of food in 2020, the equivalent weight of 840,000 Asian elephants.

UN World Food Programme delivers millions of tons of food, feeding billions of people each year
Photo: WFP/Kabir Dhanji

Kenya: Porters load part of the 4,500 tons of cargo being sent to Somalia.

9.) More than three quarters of the food we buy comes from developing countries, saving time and money on transport costs and helping sustain and grow local economies.

WFP provides food assistance to conflict zones such as Syria
Photo: WFP/Jessica Lawson

Syria: Mothers in rural Deir Ez-Zor wait to collect food from a U.N. World Food Programme assistance point.

10.) We are the largest cash provider in the humanitarian community. $1.9 billion dollars of assistance was provided this way in 59 countries in 2020. Cash increases consumer choice and strengthens local markets.

WFP partners with other relief agencies to deliver food during the COVID-19 pandemic
Photo: WFP/Mathias Roed

Colombia: The U.N. World Food Programme and World Vision provide 5,000 food baskets to Colombians and migrants in Soacha, near Bogotá.

11.) The U.N. World Food Programme helped 6 million people in 2020 forecast extreme climate events and trigger preventive action before vulnerable families are hit by disasters. Cash transfers ahead of floods, droughts and storms allow people in harm’s way to evacuate assets and livestock, reinforce homesteads, and buy food, seeds and emergency items so they are better prepared to deal with a food crisis.

WFP provides cash transfers to communities ahead of extreme weather events
Photo: WFP/Mehedi Rahman

Bangladesh: Women line up at a market to take out cash from their mobile wallets.

12.) More than 50% of the people we serve are women and girls. In 2019, 60% of the participants in our Rural Resilience Initiative were women. This enabled 56,102 women across seven countries to better manage their climate risks with insurance policies that protect them from a range of risks to their livelihoods.

World Food Programme help women farmers with food assistance when crops fail
Photo: WFP/Claire Nevill

Zimbabwe: Farmer Rebecca received U.N. World Food Programme assistance after her corn crop failed earlier this year.

We will undoubtedly face enormous challenges next year as the number of severely hungry people continues to climb and we carry out the biggest scale-up in history. The accomplishments of 2021 will be a vital foundation as we work to bring lifesaving meals to millions more of the most vulnerable people on the planet. You can support our efforts by donating.

This post was written by Paul Anthem, Simona Beltrami and Mert Er and originally appeared on