Africa: World Food Programme Adds Focus On Resilience

Washington — The United Nations' World Food Programme has expanded its humanitarian aid focus to include helping communities build resilience to shocks and reduce their vulnerability to future stresses, says the director of the agency's U.S. operations.

"The combination of development and humanitarianism ... is made possible with partnerships between governments, international organizations and the private sector," Allan Jury said December 6 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger, feeding an average of 90 million people around the world each year. In 2012, the United States contributed more than half of the agency's funding.

"Resilience is the word of the moment," Jury said, pointing to the recent announcement by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that it had begun to integrate humanitarian aid with development assistance to build communities' resilience to recurrent crises.

The WFP strategy includes purchasing food for aid near where it was produced, developing markets and providing cash or vouchers to purchase food.

Now in its fourth year, the Purchase for Progress program links WFP's demand for staple food in 21 vulnerable countries with a host of nonprofit and private sector organizations that buy food surpluses from farmers and sell them at a fair price. Since 2009, WFP has contracted for 270,000 tons of commodities from small-holder farmers worth more than $65 million, helping to turn subsistence farmers into small business operators, Jury said.

"It has so far probably been the largest targeted program to buy basic grain and commodities rather than specialized crops from small-holder farmers in the world," he said. The program's major funders are the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, he added.

The Food for Assets program helps people who chronically do not have the means to purchase food by training them to build infrastructure essential to agriculture, such as irrigation systems, terraced fields, roads, warehouses, processing plants and other facilities. The training gives them skills so they can earn money to buy and keep food for several months and withstand a potential crisis, Jury said.

Jury stressed that unlike emergency food aid distribution, resilience programs need to address the specific shock that each community has faced. The programs also need to develop small-holder farmers' associations to help farmers sell their products at fair prices.

He said that another way WFP builds resilience is through programs that provide cash or vouchers so people can purchase food from members of a local network of stores or cooperatives.

WFP also focuses on building resilience by supporting the development of nutritionally enhanced products for children. A third of all deaths in children under age 5 in developing countries are linked to undernutrition, the WFP says. Earlier in 2012, PepsiCo Inc. and USAID joined the WFP to develop nutrient-rich, ready-to-use supplementary food to combat child malnutrition.

"Whether its foundations, the private sector or NGOs, the key for these kinds of resilience programs is that the food has to be combined with the real knowledge of markets and of asset creation," Jury said.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2012 United States Department of State. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.