initiatives help rural senegalese farmers
For rural Senegalese farmers, waiting for the rains to nourish their crops in the oppressive heat of May and June is a nervous time. With climate change comes unpredictable harvests, and without reserves, one failed harvest means that families go without food, children drop out of school, and communities fall further into poverty.

Since many rural Senegalese farmers are recovering from the food crisis in 2011 and 2012, it is a particularly difficult time. By the time they have planted their seeds, they have had to spend the majority of their money and savings, and face months of hunger until they can harvest their crops. Even then, it is a gamble; it only takes a few weeks of dry weather, or an insect infestation, and everything can be lost.

Oxfam, along with the World Food Programme, La Lumière, has just started a program to aid the farmers by reducing and spreading out their farming risk. The program, Rural Resilience Initiative, has already been launched in several other African countries, but has only just reached communities in Senegal. It is based on the fact that it costs less to manage risks then it does to provide relief in a crisis; by planning ahead, these farmers can be prepared for whatever the weather brings. With the initiative, rural families have the opportunity to manage their own risks from harvest to harvest. There are four components: risk taking (credit), risk transfer (insurance), risk reserves (savings), and risk reduction.

The program encourages farmers to save, providing them with access to loans and insurance so that if they are faced with a poor crop yield, they are eligible for a settlement (either cash or food vouchers). Farmers pay for their insurance by working on local projects that improve agriculture conditions in their communities. They build irrigation systems, make compost to fertilize fields, and plant trees to better their surrounding environment. In the small villages of Senegal, farmers are helping to build erosion control barriers out of volcanic stones, which help cut down on flash floods in heavy rain, and improve the quality of the sandy soil. As June passes, the rains should now be starting in Senegal, and fortunately, the hope of a good yield is now accompanied with the knowledge that, should the rains fail, these farmers now have something to fall back on.

– Chloe Isacke

Sources: Oxfam Blog, Oxfam America
Photo: Guardian

Food insecurity in Africa is one of the biggest obstacles to global development and poverty reduction. Countries that are food insecure are vulnerable to famine and malnutrition, which can then lead many other problems, including diseases, less economic growth, and displacement. These problems explain why USAID spends $1.06 billion a year to combat chronic food insecurity.

Lack of food security is linked to violent conflict. Though food insecurity is rarely the only cause of a violent conflict, it can create a setting where conflict is much more prone to break out. The World Food Programme’s “Occasional Paper 24 – Food Insecurity and Violent Conflict: Causes, Consequences, and Addressing the Challenges” states that, “Food insecurity, especially when caused by higher food prices, heightens the risk of democratic breakdown, civil conflict, protest, rioting, and communal conflict.”

Lack of food security can occur in countries regardless of climate and landscape. Food insecurity is a major issue in Liberia, for example, a country with vast natural resources and a lush landscape that favors agriculture. Global climate change contributes to food insecurity. The warming climate has increased aridity in many African nations and contributed to recent droughts which have halted food production and made many countries food insecure.

Infectious diseases are a significant contributor to food insecurity in Africa. HIV/AIDS in particular limits the workforce that can be put towards agricultural production. Additionally, diseases put further financial burdens on households, limiting their ability to buy agricultural products.

Production of commercial agricultural products can make countries less food secure. Many African countries devote large parts of their agricultural sector to the production of cash crops like tobacco or coffee. This practice makes these countries more food insecure as they do not produce enough food within the country to feed the population and must rely on importing food to meet needs.

The resources exist in the developed world to end world hunger. By U.N. estimates, the cost to end world hunger would be $30 billion dollars annually. The world’s poor are the largest untapped market on earth, and lifting them out of poverty will only contribute to global economic prosperity. To see a bigger effort to combat food insecurity and thereby stimulate the global economy, it is as simple as contacting legislators and explaining to them the importance of food security and poverty focused aid.

– Martin Drake

Source: Harvest Help, World Food Programme, Real Clear World, Food Security Portal
Photo: UNDP


Federal budget constraints are beginning to take a toll on development and food aid efforts for the world’s poor.

After 14 years of meeting annually to discuss global development and food aid, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed this week there will be no International Food Aid and Development Conference (IFADC) in 2013 because of the current federal government budget constraints.

According to Food Business News, the agencies said, because of “U.S. government agencies facing a difficult budget environment and being urged to minimize conference events in light of these budget constraints.”

Previous IFADCs pulled together 700 or more participants from around the world, representing major food assistance program stakeholders. Meetings included representatives from U.N. agencies including the World Food Programme, officials from recipient countries, private charitable organizations, and USDA and USAID staff for the meetings in Kansas City every year.

Instead of multiple days of conference meetings as in previous years, USDA and USAID will replace the Kansas City conference with a one-day public meeting in Washington in November 2013. The meeting will be held as an add-on to the Food Aid Consultative Group meeting.

“We know that this is not a complete substitute for the IFADC and that we will have to be creative and thoughtful in how we organize this event. USDA and USAID will reach out to stakeholders during the planning of the one-day meeting,” conference organizers said.

– Liza Casabona

Source: Food Business News
Photo: Guardian

The History of the World Food Programme

During international crises, the media often publishes striking images of planes unloading bags and bags of food to distribute to those in need, or air-dropping supplies. Often, these are from the World Food Programme, a branch of the United Nations that focuses entirely on providing food and easing malnutrition in at-risk and needy communities worldwide.

Formed in 1963, the WFP was initially started as a three-year experiment after the director of the U.S. Food for Peace Program spoke of the need for a larger, multilateral food assistance organization. Its success was such that after two years, it was expanded into the branch it is today. In 1994, it adopted a mission statement, a first for any U.N. organization, which established its focus as the following:

  • Use food aid to support economic and social development
  • Meet refugee and other emergency food needs, and the associated logistics support
  • Promote world food security in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations and FAO.

The WFP’s programs are not limited to the direct distribution of food. It has expanded to provide food vouchers, implement food for work programs for the poorest members of society, buying food directly from developing countries to support local farmers, and providing food specifically to sufferers of HIV and TB (for whom proper nutrition is especially important.)

Like UNICEF, WFP has attracted significant attention, also in the celebrity sphere. Actress Drew Barrymore, an ambassador for the program, donated $1 million towards its efforts. Football stars Ronaldinho and Kaka, alongside names like Penelope Cruz, Rachel Weisz, and Sean Connery have also supported the WFP’s efforts.

The WFP’s impact is indisputable: in 2011, it provided close to 4 million tons of food to nearly 99 million people, alongside their other growing programs. They have one of the best track records for aid agencies in terms of cost-effectiveness, with their administration costs reported to be only around 7%. And they are funded entirely by donors and governments who provided an impressive 3.73 billion dollars in 2011.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Source: World Food Programme
Photo: Wikipedia:World Food Programme


A fast food retail chain in the UAE, Just Falafel, has joined forces with the World Food Programme (WFP) to raise $1 million over the next three years. The money will go to fight hunger worldwide.  Over the next three years, $500 will be donated to the WFP for every new Just Falafel franchise opening worldwide. Franchisees will be encouraged to match the $500 donation, doubling the impact and allowing the WFP to feed twice as many people.

Business predictions estimate over 1,000 franchises will open before the end of 2016. With the matching donation program from both Just Falafel and the franchisees, the goal of raising $1 million is very much in reach.  Nearly 900 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat to lead active, healthy lives.  This makes hunger and malnutrition the number one health risk worldwide and gives organizations like Just Falafel a reason to contribute to fighting hunger.

As estimates report 1 in 8 people in the world are malnourished and many of these in the Middle East and Asia, Just Falafel has a personal connection to the cause.  Giving back to their communities is deeply rooted in the values and mission of Just Falafel. The partnership with the WFP takes that connection one step further and formalizes their commitment to fighting hunger.

WFP’s regional head of private partnerships and business development, Ashraf Hamouda, commended Just Falafel for their initiative and act of generosity to help fight hunger.  The WFP is working hard to end hunger, but they can’t do it alone and partnerships like this allow them to continue to fight.  Social Media will be a major player in Just Falafel’s strategy to raise awareness as well as promote new franchisees.

– Amanda Kloeppel 

Source: Trade Arabia

The Universities Fighting World Hunger organization seeks to “create an academic hunger model that is suitable for replication or adaptation by universities around the world.” It is partnered with the UN World Food Programme and hopes to involve universities and to take action against world hunger through hunger awareness and education, fundraising, advocacy and academic initiatives.

In April, students at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) and members of Universities Fighting World Hunger sought to educate participants about the harsh realities that refugees face every day while living in a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya. The event was held on campus and was open and free to the public.

The annual event reenacted life in a refugee camp that harbors nearly 400,000 refugees mostly from neighboring Somalia. By using the bare bones of a camp, tents and a grill, and retelling true stories about refugee’s lives and daily activities, members of the organization hoped to spark interest and action. Participants were exposed to the extreme living conditions in a refugee camp including chronic food insufficiency. Members created fliers and pamphlets that outlined how individuals could get involved, answering many of the participants questions of “What can we do to help?”

– Kira Maixner

Source: Student Media at University of Alabama in Birmingham
Photo: Guardian

What the Wealthiest Could Do

If the bank account of every billionaire on Earth were put into one big pile, that pile would total $5.4 trillion dollars. Sounds like a lot, but that figure is dwarfed by the sum total of each American household combined which totaled $40.2 trillion. Tackling the problems of impoverished nations seems like a task too huge to comprehend, but when you look at the total capital of citizens in the United States and top earners around the world, the problem seems within reach.

World Vision estimates that it would cost roughly $50 million to provide clean water to each needy household in the entire world for a year. Seems like a lot of money until you compare it to the combined earning power of each billionaire in the world. It would cost a single percent of that total wealth. This would take much less than one percent of the total annual earnings of US citizens and would save 1.6 million lives annually.

Clean water is one problem, but food is another. The World Food Program estimates that it would cost $3.2 billion to ensure that children stay alive and nourished until they are grown. This would cost 1/600th of the total earnings of the wealthiest in the world and would save 4.2 million lives annually.

Contributions that already exist from governments and nongovernmental organizations are indeed helping to solve the problem. Extreme poverty is predicted to be solved by 2030, but some help from individuals could be the most powerful force in the fight against poverty.

– Pete Grapentien

Source Huffington Post
Photo Source MSN Now

Eva Longoria Impressed by World Food ProgramActress Eva Longoria, best known for her role in Desperate Housewives, visited rural Honduras this March with philanthropist Howard G. Buffett (the eldest son of Warren Buffet). The actress wanted to see first-hand the work of the World Food Program (WFP) and its Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative – to which the Howard G. Buffett Foundation is a major donor. Eva Longoria impressed by World Food Program, especially sighted the P4P ability to tailor development practices and policies for each community differently, as “there’s not a template for the world” for achieving success.

As the world’s largest humanitarian agency, WFP is also a major food buyer. In 2012, WFP bought over $1 billion worth of food – more than 75 percent in developing countries. The P4P program is a logical agenda for the WFP – its mission is to increase the WFP procurement of food through local/small scale farmers, thereby increasing rural development with the WFP’s buying power.

Through the initial pilot program in 20 countries, P4P will provide greater incentive to small farmers to invest in their production, as they will have the stability of a reliable buyer and receive a fair price for their crops with WFP’s promise to buy their crops. It is envisioned that with the WFP stabilizing and developing small-businesses, then local governments and other private companies will also start to buy on a smaller level, further increasing demand and development. Farmers are learning how to increase crop quantities and quality, how to negotiate markets, pricing and contracts, and improve their businesses. P4P also invests in capacity building in areas such as post-harvest handling and storage, which in turn yields sustainability through boosting national food security reserves.

The five years pilot P4P, 2009 – 2013, rests on three pillars:

1. Demand: Through P4P, WFP tests innovative ways to buy staple food and promote marketing opportunities for smallholder farmers.

2. Supply: P4P links WFP’s demand with the expertise and resources of partners who support farmers to achieve better yields, reduce their losses after the harvest and improve the quality of their staple crops.

3. Learning and Sharing: P4P will gather and share lessons on effective approaches to connect smallholder farmers to markets in a sustainable way and share them widely with stakeholders.

A wide range of partners regionally, nationally, and globally supports the P4P program, with the US being a key donor.

 – Mary Purcell

Source: FLickr, WFP

Take a Quiz - Feed a Family in SyriaBy taking this short quiz, participants can literally feed a family in Syria. Sponsored and facilitated by the UN World Food Program (WFP), the five questions survey will help you learn more about the crisis in Syria and how the WFP is responding.

The questions range from the cost of living expenses to refugee status. One question asks, “Of all the refugees now living in Jordan how many are women & children?” Answer: of this particular Jordanian population of 60,000 refugees – 75% are women & children. The WFP provides nutritious ready-to-eat meals for anyone in need.

The UN has just counted the one-millionth refugee coming out of Syria. More than 70,000 people have died and two million have been internally displaced since the conflict began almost two years ago. Starting as demonstrations against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the protests quickly turned violent as opponents of Mr. Assad took up arms against the brutal crackdown coming from the authorities. There is still no resolution in sight.

Find out more – and feed a family in Syria for a day.

– Mary Purcell

Source: WFP, BBC
Photo: unostamps

Upon winning an Oscar for her leading role in the film “Silver Linings Playbook”, Jennifer Lawrence fell as she ascended the stairs. While potentially embarrassing for anyone, Lawrence continued without a pause. Her charming demeanor and genuine personality were shining, so no one made any fuss about the incident. The actress’s charm is obviously authentic as Jennifer Lawrence has a proven history of charitable involvement for good causes.

While she was part of the cast in “The Hunger Games”, she and other co-stars partnered with the UN World Food Program (WFP) to raise money and awareness around the issues of global poverty and hunger. The movie itself deals with food scarcity and its subsequent social effects so the tie-in was natural.

“This partnership will help us spread the word that hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem,” said Nancy Roman, Director of Communications of WFP. WFP is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.

Jennifer Lawrence also supports Feeding America and The Thirst Project, both non-profit organizations helping people overcome issues of poverty and food/water access.

Unlike Hunger Games, or global food shortages, the US does have enough food to feed everyone, it is just a matter of getting it to the millions of low-income people who need it. This is the concern of Feeding America.

– Mary Purcell

Video: Youtube