Our hearts go out to the people in Ecuador and Peru impacted by a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit southern Ecuador today. Early news reports indicate that there has been loss of life and widespread damage. We are closely monitoring the unfolding situation and stand ready to support emergency relief efforts.

Ecuador is highly prone to natural disasters, resulting in loss of life, livelihoods and infrastructure. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has operated in Ecuador and Peru for years. In January 2023, the U.N. World Food Programme assisted more than 61,000 people in Ecuador with hot meals and vouchers. In Peru, it assisted more than 38,000 people with food and cash assistance.

As the world’s leading humanitarian organization, the U.N. World Food Programme is uniquely positioned to support the world’s most vulnerable when disaster strikes. From Syria and Türkiye to now Ecuador and Peru, we remain committed to the people on the ground and will do everything we can to support families in their time of need. But we can’t do it without the support of our donors. Please join us as we work to feed millions of vulnerable people around the world.


About the United Nations World Food Programme  

The U.N. World Food Programme is the world’s leading humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

About World Food Program USA 

World Food Program USA, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, DC, proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme by mobilizing American policymakers, businesses and individuals to advance the global movement to end hunger. To learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission, please visit wfpusa.org/mission-history.

Media Contact:
Toula Athas
Director, Communications

PANAMA CITY – Two thirds of the 3 million Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru who have seen their jobs disappear and their incomes plummet during the pandemic will see their food insecurity worsen in 2020, according to the United Nations World Food Programme’s COVID-19 projections.

Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to register an alarming 269 percent rise in the number of people facing severe food insecurity when compared to 2019 – the highest relative increase globally. Nearly 16 million people*, which includes 1.9 million Venezuelan migrants, will this year face  a critical situation that warrants urgent attention.

“We are worried about the millions who are suffering the impact of the pandemic in our continent,” said Miguel Barreto, U.N. World Food Programme’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Without enough work and income, hunger is what’s next for them. We must act now. We can’t leave anyone behind.”

In the case of migrants, the projection combines moderate and severe food insecurity and is based on a remote survey the U.N. World Food Programme conducted between April and May 2020 on the impact of COVID-19 on their lives. Economic indicators for Latin America and the Caribbean were also analyzed following the outbreak.

With predictions that gross domestic product (GDP) in the region will shrink by 9.1 percent** – the biggest contraction in a century, estimates suggest that poverty, extreme poverty and unemployment will affect millions more people this year.

Migrants are particularly vulnerable as they are not covered by national social protection programs which provide a safety net in times of crisis. The most recent U.N. World Food Programme survey found that 7 out of 10 migrants in these three countries were worried about feeding themselves and their families, a substantial increase compared to previous assessments. The proportion of migrants who only had one meal or did not eat the day before the interview increased 2.5 times compared to the pre-coronavirus period.

“To halt the increase in poverty and hunger for migrants and other vulnerable groups, we need lasting solutions. It is important to incorporate migrants and other groups into national social protection programs as the Government of Colombia has started doing with our support. For this we count on the support of our international partners and of financial institutions,” added Barreto.

To cope with the growing wave of hunger, the U.N. World Food Programme needs an additional $328 million in 2020 to reach 3.5 million people who have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean. To assist vulnerable Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, the U.N. World Food Programme requires $120 million of the total figure.

Additional information for journalists:

In Colombia, the U.N. World Food Programme is assisting nearly 400,000 people a month with cash-based transfers or food rations, including migrants, members of indigenous communities, victims of armed violence, children in school feeding programs, and people affected by COVID-19. The U.N. World Food Programme plans to assist an additional 550,000 people, subject to the availability of funds, to support and complement national crisis response efforts.

In Ecuador, the U.N. World Food Programme provides vouchers to a monthly average of 96,000 migrants and, due to the crisis, has extended their duration from April to June for 20,000 families. In addition, the U.N. World Food Programme assists about 250 Ecuadorian returnees a month in temporary community kitchens in Pichincha province, and plans to assist 5,000 people in shelters and community kitchens during the pandemic.

In Peru, the U.N. World Food Programme is providing logistical support to the government to deliver nearly 240,000 food kits to vulnerable households in Lima and Callao, and food baskets to 20,000 families quarantining at home in 23 regions of the country. The U.N. World Food Programme also plans cash transfers for 98,000 vulnerable people, including migrants, who do not benefit from national social protection programs.

*The regional projection has been calculated for 11 countries where the U.N. World Food Programme has a presence and for small developing states in the Caribbean. The figure includes 1.9 million Venezuelan migrants in moderate and severe food insecurity in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

**As per the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

Remote survey report on the impact of COVID-19 on market access, food security and livelihoods


The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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Where Disaster Looms

Ecuador is developing – but it’s highly prone to natural disasters, resulting in loss of life, livelihoods and infrastructure. WFP is on the ground, working with the government and communities to boost capacity to take on devastating climate shocks – and more.


population of Ecuador


of the rural population lives below the poverty line


of children under 1 suffer from anaemia

woman standing in muddy boots in front of boat

Growth in the face of climate shocks

In recent years Ecuador has seen a growth in its GDP, resulting in declining poverty levels and increased investments in social policies, infrastructure, health and education.  However, the current economic slowdown, driven by declining oil prices and other factors, may undermine this positive trend. 

Ecuador is also highly prone to natural disasters that can devastate communities, livelihoods and infrastructure. In April 2016, a devastating earthquake struck the northern coast, and reconstruction costs were estimated at nearly 3 percent of the GDP.

Vulnerability to natural disasters, soil erosion, environmental degradation and climate change threaten the sustainability of food systems. For these reasons, strengthening preparedness and response mechanisms, as well as enhancing the resilience of communities and individuals to adverse events, is an area of growing interest for the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government.I i


Since we first started our work in Ecuador in 1964, our role has changed considerably: from the delivery of programs like school meals to an increasingly advisory role, providing the Government of Ecuador with technical and policy support.

Food Assistance & Nutrition

We’re providing emergency food assistance to more than 280,000 refugees, displaced people, migrants, returnees and other vulnerable Ecuadorians to purchase fresh and nutritious products. And as part of the COVID-19 crisis response, WFP has been supporting the Government’s social protection program through cash-based transfers (CBT) which focuses in Ecuadorian families severely affected by the pandemic, prioritizing households with pregnant and lactating women and children under five years old.


We connect smallholder farmers to national and local markets and procurement systems linked to social protection schemes, so that they can provide fresh, nutritious food for WFP’s programs such as the school meals initiative. Farmers’ organizations receive technical assistance and capacity building. As women farmers, especially indigenous ones, face particular challenges, WFP prioritizes organizations with a majority of women members, and with women in leadership positions.

Sustainable Food Systems

We’re working with the Government to develop and strengthen systems for early warning, emergency preparedness and response. WFP also works with the Government to enhance the capacities of national and local institutions, vulnerable communities and individuals, to respond and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Adaptation activities are accompanied by nutritional and technical trainings.

Capacity Strengthening

WFP provides advice and support to national and local institutions, including to social protection systems, in order to reduce food insecurity and malnutrition by 2021. This includes promoting and disseminating studies, research and assessments to improve the implementation of programs linked to food security and nutrition, and to encourage the sharing of experiences and best practices through South-South cooperation.

Emergency Preparedness

And we provide technical assistance and logistic service provision to the humanitarian partners and public entities in order to improve emergency logistics coordination and supply chain management. Additionally, WPF as the leader of logistics in the Country Humanitarian Team establishes coordination for emergency preparedness with partners. WFP´s aim is to ensure that affected populations benefit from logistics support that is offered to national disaster management cells, and other humanitarian partners, in order to receive timely life-saving assistance. In 2021, WFP transported medical supplies and equipment as part of the COVID-19 response.

Help Save Lives by Sending Food

You can help deliver food to vulnerable populations in Ecuador and other countries by donating to WFP.

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