Meet Ume Kalsoom, WFP’s Food Safety and Quality Officer in the Capital of South Sudan

Photo: WFP/Johnson Abraham/2021
World Food Programme
Published April 6, 2022

Ume Kalsoom is the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) food safety and quality officer in Juba, South Sudan. Ume oversees the entire South Sudan operation, from food inspections to management of any issues with the products and packaging. Read on to learn about Ume’s background, her career with the U.N. World Food Programme and where in the world she hopes to live one day. 

Who Has Inspired You Most in Your Life?

There are a lot of senior people at the U.N. World Food Programme who I respect, and I aspire to be like…so I would say Ashraf, my supervisor in my first job back in Pakistan in the bread and cake-making industry. He was a very senior person with extensive knowledge and skills in food sciences, and I learned small things about life from him – how to forgive, how to work with a full heart, and that attitude really matters in a job.

woman in purple shirt driving truck
Photo: WFP/Johnson Abraham/2021

Ume oversees food inspections across South Sudan.

What Is the Best Decision You Have Ever Made?

Joining the U.N. World Food Programme – although it was only a short-term contract. Moving to South Sudan was also a great decision. I was very confused at that time because I had two options: to go on temporary deployment in Somalia or take a job in South Sudan. I thought it was time to push my limits, so Juba won.

woman in blue vest driving truck
Photo: WFP/Johnson Abraham/2021

“I thought it was time to push my limits,” Ume said of her decision to take the job in Juba.

Which Words or Phrases Do You Most Overuse?

It’s an Urdu saying, شکر خورے کو شکر ہی ملتی ہے, which in English means: “One gets what one desires” or “He that loves a good meal shall have a good meal.” Also, one of my friends told me I excessively use “has to” in conversation.

woman standing in front of WFP ATV
Photo: WFP/Johnson Abraham/2021

South Sudan is bracing for its worst hunger crisis this year. WFP staff like Ume are working tirelessly to meet the needs.

Where in the World Would You Most Like to Live?

Florence. I’ve been mesmerized by the city every time I visited. My top two places to live are Islamabad and Florence.

Why Do You Do the Work You Do?

It keeps me motivated and energized, and I feel like I’m making a positive impact on communities. I feel like I’m adding value. The U.N. World Food Programme’s South Sudan operation offers you new challenges and gets the best out of you. Everything starts as a challenge and ends as an achievement.

This story originally appeared on WFP’s Stories on March 30, 2022. To learn more about our operations in South Sudan, click here