Photo: WFP/Michael Huggins


1.4 billion

people live in China


people are malnourished


of people live in poverty

The Situation

Rapid and substantial economic transformations over the past 35 years in the Peoples’ Republic of China have translated into remarkable progress in poverty reduction and social development. By lifting millions out of hunger, the country met its Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of hungry people by 2015 and reduced the global hunger rate by two thirds.

However, large pockets of poverty still exist – especially in remote, mountainous areas – and there are large income disparities and gaps in nutritional status between rural and urban areas. Almost 150.8 million people are malnourished.

The rural landscape is dominated by more than 200 million smallholder farmers, who produce the majority of the food consumed nationally and manage 95% of the cultivated land. For those living in the most remote locations, with poor infrastructure and limited access to financial services and markets, it is difficult to participate in the national economy.

China is also one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. More than 186 million people are affected by droughts and floods, which reduce the country’s potential grain output by an estimated 20 million tons per year.  This vulnerability is exacerbated by the expansion of farming into disaster-prone areas and by poor maintenance of water conservation systems.

WFP's Work

Based on a memorandum of understanding signed in March 2016, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) works with the Chinese government to reduce poverty in targeted counties, enhance the livelihoods and resilience of small-scale farmers, and improve the capacity of communities in areas vulnerable to disasters to withstand and respond to climate shocks.

  • Nutrition: WFP supports the Government in its efforts to meet its target of bringing stunting rates among children under 5 to less than 7%. WFP provides technical advice and expertise to improve the delivery of nutrition programs in selected “poverty counties,” with a special focus on hard-to-reach areas.
  • Resilience Work: WFP supports efforts to help vulnerable small-scale farmers in areas such as Gansu, Hainan, Hunan, Anhui and Guangxi provinces to enhance their capacity of generating income and becoming integrated into national food supply chains, including access to markets and to financial services.
  • Disaster Preparedness: WFP supports efforts to build the resilience of targeted rural communities in arid and semi-arid regions (in Gansu, Anhui and Guangxi provinces and other disaster-prone regions) where climate-related shocks and stressors can easily wipe out any small gain in production.
  • South-South Cooperation: WFP’s Centre of Excellence in China helps share China’s rich experience in food security, nutrition improvement and poverty alleviation with other developing countries, with the goal of supporting them in the achievement of their Sustainable Development targets by 2030.