Top 12 Things You Didn’t Know About the World Food Programme
As we ring in the New Year, we’re looking back at some of the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) greatest accomplishments in 2020, including picking up a 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 world’s largest humanitarian agency, assisting 100 million people in 88 countries.
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.
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.
4.) The U.N. World Food Programme provides school meals to 17.3 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.
5.) Contributions to the U.N. World Food Programme have increased in recent years, and in 2019 reached a record level of $8 billion — but there is still a $4.1 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.
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 2019 we bought $37.2 million dollars’ worth of food from them.
7.) More than 500 square miles of land was developed and 30 square miles of forests were planted in 2019 under our Food Assistance for Assets initiative, which improves people’s long-term food security and resilience to climate change.
8.) The U.N. World Food Programme delivered 4.2 million metric tons of food in 2019, the equivalent weight of 840,000 Asian elephants – the equivalent of 24 billion meals.
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.
10.) We are the largest cash provider in the humanitarian community. More than $2 billion dollars of assistance was provided this way in 64 countries in 2019. Cash increases consumer choice and strengthens local markets.
11.) The U.N. World Food Programme is helping 15 countries 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.
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.
We will undoubtedly face enormous challenges next year as the number of severely hungry people is expected to double and we face our biggest scale-up in history. The accomplishments of 2020 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 here.
This post was written by Paul Anthem, Simona Beltrami and Mert Er and originally appeared on wfp.org/stories.