Top 5 Goals We Reached in Ethiopia With the Support of The Weeknd

Photo: WFP/Marco Frattini
World Food Program USA
Published January 7, 2022

To mark The Weeknd dropping his highly anticipated new album “Dawn FM,” we’re taking a look back at when he first joined the WFP family as a Goodwill Ambassador and the goals we have reached thanks to his support. 

The situation on the ground in northern Ethiopia is changing rapidly. Details of this story may change and we will keep you updated as developments unfold. Since October, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has not managed to deliver humanitarian cargo to the Tigray Region. 

In October 2021, World Food Program USA was proud to announce multi-platinum winning artist The Weeknd as the newest member of the U. N. World Food Programme family. Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, joined the U.N. World Food Programme as a Goodwill Ambassador with the goal of advocating for Zero Hunger and sending relief to countries affected by conflict, like his parents’ home of Ethiopia.

The Weeknd’s ambassadorship and advocacy will help shed a global spotlight on the rising tide of hunger unfolding across the world. In the Tigray Region of Ethiopia, conflict that began over a year ago continues to drive an unprecedented humanitarian and hunger crisis. Families have been forced to leave their homes and face the risk of famine if the conflict carries on.

the wknd joins wfp
Photo: Rich Fury/Getty

On Oct. 7, 2021, The Weeknd joined WFP and WFP USA in Los Angeles to spotlight our mission: Saving Lives and Changing Lives.

With support from The Weeknd and individuals like you, the U.N. World Food Programme has been able to:

1. Reach Millions of People With Lifesaving Food

Since emergency operations began in March 2021, we have reached over 2.5 million people in the Tigray Region with lifesaving assistance. From nutritionally fortified supplements to cash, we gave the people of northern Ethiopia a lifeline when the violence struck.

woman in pink headscarf smiles softly
Photo: WFP/Marco Frattini

90 percent of the Tigray Region’s population needs food assistance and 400,000 people were estimated to already be facing famine-like conditions by September 2021.

2. Deliver Monthly Food Rations to Refugees

Ethiopia is home to the second largest refugee population on the African continent. In northern Ethiopia, we have provided over 80,000 refugees with monthly food distributions.

Refugees have also had the opportunity to participate in training courses like agriculture and business. These programs provide refugees with new skills to successfully enter their local markets and become self-reliant in the long term.

little boy eating nutrition bar
Photo: WFP/Marco Frattini

In July 2021, over 260,000 schoolchildren in northern Ethiopia were reached with 720 metric tons of food.

3. Provide Schoolchildren With Safe, Nutritious Meals

In times of conflict, the most vulnerable people are often women and young children. To keep children fed and in the classroom, we have provided school meals for children in the Afar, Oromia and Somali regions of Ethiopia. The meals are also made from local products like cereals, grains, vegetable oil and salt to support farmers and economies in the region.

family sitting on ground together
Photo: WFP/Gemma Snowdon

“The U.N. World Food Programme is calling for all parties to agree to a ceasefire and guarantee an unimpeded flow of humanitarian supplies into Tigray, so that we can deliver lifesaving food and other emergency supplies safely before it’s too late,” said Michael Dunford, the U.N. World Food Programme’s Corporate Response Director for Tigray on July 22, 2021.

4. Deploy Over 250 Staff to Tigray

Since the start of the conflict in northern Ethiopia, the U.N. World Food Programme has deployed over 250 staff members to the region. As of October 2020, the U.N. World Food Programme was expanding its storage capacity to supply the Tigray and Afar regions with food. 20 mobile storage units had also been built in the northwest to house food as close to vulnerable communities as possible.

man standing on WFP truck
Photo: WFP/Claire Nevill

As of October 2021, food and fuel stocks in the Tigray Region were running perilously low and jeopardizing operations.

5. Lead Food Security, Logistics and Telecommunications Efforts

In Tigray, we’re leading the humanitarian response. Between September 5 and 29, nearly 200 trucks entered the Tigray Region carrying 6,150 metric tons of food and nutrition supplies – enough to feed more than 360,000 people for one month. As of September 30, 90 trucks exited Tigray and were available for the movement of lifesaving humanitarian aid into the Region.

We’re so excited that The Weeknd stepped up as a champion for Zero Hunger, first by donating 2 million meals to people facing hunger in Ethiopia and becoming a U.N. World Food Programme Goodwill Ambassador. We were proud to welcome an artist who had already exhibited such passion for and commitment to the fight against global hunger.

See all the news and photos from The Weeknd’s announcement here.