KIGALI – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) received today $5.3 million from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) to provide humanitarian food assistance in the form of cash transfers to over 104,000 Congolese and Burundian refugees in camps across Rwanda.

The U.N. World Food Programme’s refugee operation has faced severe resourcing constraints in 2021 and the U.N. World Food Programme was forced to reduce general food assistance rations to 40 percent of a full ration in March and April 2021. Nutrition assistance to protect against malnutrition and school feeding continued without any cuts.

In May, the U.N. World Food Programme with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, began needs-based targeting of food assistance for refugees who now receive different ration sizes based on vulnerability. Backed by the United States, the step was taken in collaboration with the Ministry of Emergency Management with technical support from a UNHCR-U.N. World Food Programme Excellence and Targeting Hub.

“We are grateful for this generous contribution from the American people,” said Edith Heines, U.N. World Food Programme Rwanda Representative and Country Director. “This along with contributions from other donors allows the U.N. World Food Programme to increase rations from 80 percent of a full ration in May to 92 percent in June for the most vulnerable refugees and from 40 to 46 percent for moderately vulnerable refugees.”

Food assistance for refugees in Rwanda is provided in the form of cash-based transfers to allow refugees to purchase the food of their choice from the local markets in and around refugee camps.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest 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.

Follow us on Twitter: @WFPUSA, @wfp_africa and @EdithHeinesWFP

Rome – Hunger and famine will persist and there will be unequal recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic unless more women in rural and urban areas hold leadership positions with increased decision-making power, say the heads of the three United Nations’ food agencies ahead of their joint International Women’s Day event on March 8.

The event, co-organized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), will focus global attention on the vital role that empowered female farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders need to play so that women can contribute on equal terms to the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and in creating an environment to eliminate poverty, enhance productivity and improve food security and nutrition.

“The world is home to more than 1.1 billion girls under the age of 18, who have the potential of becoming the largest generation of female leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers ever seen for the better future. Yet, women and girls continue to face persistent structural constraints that prevent them from fully developing their potential and hinder their efforts of improving their lives as well as their households and communities,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. “Women and girls can play a crucial role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in particular in transforming our agri-food systems. We all need to work together to spark the necessary changes to empower women and girls, particularly those in rural areas,” he added.

“It is essential that women are not only in more leadership positions, but that they are consulted and listened to, and integrated in all spheres and stages of pandemic response and recovery,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. “Investing in rural women’s leadership and involving them more in creating our post-COVID-19 future is critical to ensure their perspectives and needs are adequately considered, so that we can build back better food systems where there is equal access to nutritious food and decent livelihoods.”

“Women and girls make up half of our global community and it’s time this was reflected in leadership positions at every level,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme. “We know from our work around the world that when women and girls have better access to information, resources and economic opportunities, and are free to make their own decisions, hunger rates fall and nutrition improves not only for themselves but also their families, communities and countries.”

Women’s leadership is particularly important in rural areas of developing countries, where the voices of the 1.7 billion women and girls who live there are often overlooked. 60 percent of women in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa work in agriculture – yet they have less access to resources and services than men, including land, finance, training, inputs and equipment. In addition to their agricultural work, women are overburdened with domestic chores and caring for their families – roles that have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, women are more negatively affected by the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including losing livelihoods and experiencing decreases in their personal incomes.

Ensuring that women have a greater voice is not only a matter of gender equality. Women leaders can advocate for women to have better access to and control over assets and productive inputs, thus boosting their productivity and incomes, leading to food security and increasing their employment opportunities and real wages.

Research shows that if women farmers had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields by 20 to 30 percent and total agricultural output by 2.5 to 4 percent, lifting 100 to 150 million people out of hunger.

FAO works to strengthen rural women’s engagement and leadership in agri-food systems. FAO also engages with farmers’ organizations to ensure that rural women’s voices are heard and promotes gender-transformative approaches to challenge unfair socio-cultural norms in rural communities. Moreover, FAO supports governments to adopt policies and strategies addressing the needs and aspirations of rural women and girls, enabling them to participate in decision-making and assume leadership positions. This also implies enhancing women’s leadership skills and self-confidence and raising gender awareness within national and local institutions. Within the Organization, FAO has established a Women’s Committee providing an inclusive, safe space that reflects the diverse and energetic nature of FAO’s female workforce. The Organization also created incentives for career prospects for female staff and for achieving gender parity at all levels and across all job categories.

Since 2009, IFAD has implemented a ‘household methodologies’ approach to reinforce the equal role and decision-making capacity of women within households, groups and communities. Evidence from Uganda, Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan and other countries has shown that women who take part in the program take up leadership roles in their organizations and communities, and have a greater voice in decision-making in their households. This has led to greater agricultural productivity.

Food security and gender inequality are closely linked with disadvantages beginning at a young age. In many countries boys and girls have very different childhoods. Boys eat first, are given more food than their sisters, do less housework and marry later. For girls, marriage and not school work can dominate their childhoods. The U.N. World Food Programme’s work in achieving gender equality begins at school where support or implementation of School Feeding programs in more than 70 countries contributes to increased school attendance of girls. This provides them greater access to education, reduces the risk of child marriage and other forms of gender-based violence, and increases future livelihood and leadership opportunities for girls.

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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Our goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide. We believe that everyone can play a part in ending hunger.

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided $23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 518 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub.

The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest 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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

WASHINGTON – As classrooms around the developing world begin to re-open, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is receiving $119 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide school meals in five countries in Asia and Africa.

“Yet again, the USDA demonstrates real leadership in reaching school-age children in the developing world with proper nutrition. In many countries, school meals are the only food some children receive each day, so we are enormously grateful for USDA’s support,” says Jon Brause, the director of WFP’s Washington office.

The United States provides school meals funding through a competitive award process managed annually by USDA’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program.

The latest awards, which take effect this month, see WFP’s programs in Cote d’Ivoire, Laos, Nepal and Rwanda receiving $25 million each, while WFP’s program in Bangladesh will receive $19 million.

The awards, in cash and in kind, enable WFP to feed about 841,000 children under agreements of three to five years. This amounts to an important bridge for these five governments, giving them temporary support until they can establish their own sustainable, national school feeding programs.

The McGovern-Dole program has provided meals to classrooms in the developing world since 2003, contributing significantly to students’ learning, health and nutrition. It has long been one of WFP’s largest funding sources for school feeding activities, including take-home rations when schools have closed due to Covid-19. Nearly 370 million children missed out on school meals so far this year, including 13 million receiving WFP ones.

“This support is yet another testament to the strength of WFP’s school feeding activities worldwide – and it comes at a critical time,” says Carmen Burbano, WFP’s Rome-based director of School Feeding.

WFP’s school feeding programs span 61 countries and are a key social safety net for poor and vulnerable households. In 2019, WFP provided school meals to 17.3 million schoolchildren, and helped governments reach an additional 39 million children.

Photos available here

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest 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. | Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

  • Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mobile +1 202 770 5993
  • Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mobile + 1 929 289 9867

NAIROBI – The dire socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic may more than double the number of hungry people in East Africa and the Horn over the next three months, a report from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has found.

The most vulnerable and at risk are poor urban communities living hand-to-mouth in informal settlements, and millions of refugees located in densely populated camps across the region.

An estimated 20 million people already faced acute food insecurity in nine countries before COVID-19 arrived in East Africa and the Horn, with numerous food crises, a massive outbreak of desert locusts and extensive flooding threatening millions across the region, which includes Ethiopia, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Djibouti and Eritrea.

WFP projects that the number of acutely food insecure people is likely to increase to between 34 and 43 million from May through July due to the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. If the number of hungry reaches 43 million, it would have more than doubled. Among the hungry may be 3.3 million refugees spread across the nine countries.

“A shortage of funding already means most refugees in the region are not receiving all the food they need, and they could face further cuts as scarce resources become even more over-stretched,” said UNHCR Regional Director Clementine Nkweta Salami.

“High levels of malnutrition in densely populated camps and settlements make refugees particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 outbreak,” she added. “Some refugees also live in urban areas, often in the poorest informal settlements, representing a significant proportion of the urban poor in many countries in the region.”

“COVID-19 is unprecedented as it affects not just one country or region, but the whole world. It is not just a supply side problem, such as drought, or a demand side issue such as a recession – it is both at the same time and on a global scale,” said WFP Deputy Regional Director Brenda Behan.

“More people are expected to die from the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself,” she said. “And refugees and the urban poor across the region are at greatest risk.”

Some half of the urban population in the region lives in informal urban settlements or slums, with 25 million people living hand-to-mouth each day. Millions have already lost their jobs as economies falter amid lockdowns and curfews to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Governments and humanitarian organizations are scrambling to address the loss of food security for many families in urban areas, or risk the destabilizing effects of urban unrest.

WFP has a funding shortfall of $103 million to provide full food rations or full cash transfers to more than 3 million refugees in the nine countries in the region through September.

With governments in the region imposing restrictions delaying cross-border trade because of fears that truck drivers are spreading COVID-19, WFP calls for cooperation to keep both commercial and humanitarian goods flowing so people receive the right food at the right time.

COVID-19 is spreading across the region at the same time as fears are increasing that new swarms of desert locusts, particularly in Ethiopia, Kenya and near Somalia may eat newly planted crops ahead of the main harvest from July to September. Floods during the current long rains are another additional threat to people and food supplies in much of the region.

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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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFP_Africa @WFPUSA

A link to the WFP report is here: https://docs.wfp.org/api/documents/WFP-0000115462/download/

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Peter Smerdon, WFP/Nairobi Tel. + 254 20 7622179, Mob. +254 707 722104

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