Lessons in Resilience: A Letter From Our President Barron Segar

Photo: WFP/Josh Estey/2022
Barron Segar
Published September 27, 2023

I was reminded of a universal truth in 2022: Every human being is inherently resilient. Regardless of our unique circumstances, we all face adversity. Our resilience is what enables us to endure, to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, and to adapt to challenges beyond our control.

In 2022, humanity’s resilience was tested by multiple overlapping crises. A singular event – the war in Ukraine – revealed in new ways the interdependence of our food systems and gave rise to a global hunger crisis. With exports blocked from Russia and Ukraine, the cost of food, fuel and fertilizer spiked. The resulting global inflation touched all our lives and pushed millions of people deeper into extreme hunger. By the end of the year, more than 349 million people around the world experienced severe hunger. Of them, nearly 1 million children, women and men faced famine-like conditions.

Meanwhile, the climate crisis continued to unfold. In places like Pakistan, floods and glacial melting put more than 30% of the country under water. Across the Horn of Africa, scorching drought turned agricultural land to dust.

Man sits at WFP distribution site in Kenya
Photo: WFP/Kabir Dhanji/2023

The Horn of Africa experienced the worst drought in 40 years.

At the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and World Food Program USA, we believe in a world where food enables every human being to reach their full potential. For the people WFP supports, this journey most often begins with immediate food and cash assistance following an emergency such as an extreme weather event or outbreak of violent conflict. This lifesaving humanitarian assistance lays the groundwork for people to lead long, resilient lives. Through sustainable development programs like homegrown school meals and skills training, WFP helps boost communities’ ability to respond to and manage unexpected shocks. In this way, resilience is at the heart of all WFP programs.

Sisters run through field in Sri Lanka
Photo: WFP/Josh Estey/2022

In 2022, WFP reached 160 million people – including 90 million children.

We know we cannot reach Zero Hunger without fostering the conditions people need to withstand financial, environmental, and political shocks, and we understand that equitable access to food, economic opportunities, and education are the building blocks of healthy, stable and peaceful communities.

Woman holds lily bulbs in South Sudan
Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua/2022

Equitable access to food, economic opportunities, and education are the building blocks of healthy, peaceful communities.

Our donors and partners – from individuals to corporations to institutional funders – helped World Food Program USA mobilize a record $123 million dollars in support of WFP last year, and I am humbled by their unwavering support. Those critical funds helped WFP reach 160 million people who showed us every day what it means to be resilient. You can find some of their inspiring stories in our 2022 Annual Report, and we hope you’ll share them with others as a testament to the difference one person can make in someone else’s life.

Read World Food Program USA’s 2022 Annual Report.