The COVID-19 pandemic risks reversing a decade of hard-won gains in global efforts to provide nutritious food to the world’s most vulnerable children through a free daily meal in school. One in two schoolchildren, or 388 million children worldwide, were receiving school meals when the pandemic struck, the highest number in history, according to the State of School Feeding Worldwide report. By April 2020, 199 countries had closed their schools and 370 million children were suddenly deprived of what for many was their only nutritious meal of the day.
Climate change is intensifying extreme weather events hitting the country, leaving almost half the population of 15 million unsure of where they’ll find their next meal. At the peak of this hunger season, 3.4 million people, more than a third of the entire rural population, are expected to face emergency or crisis levels of hunger. Over the past two decades, droughts have proved an insurmountable challenge for the smallholder farmers who produce most of the country’s food. Floods and cyclones strike, too, and things are only expected to get worse. Climate scientists anticipate severe droughts in Zimbabwe to increase by 21 percent over the next few decades which could lead to enormous losses.
El Salvador: Growing ‘green gold’ in Central America’s Dry Corridor
Four years ago, the village of Duduwa, in the district of Banke in the south of Nepal, was hit by heavy monsoon rains. Crops were destroyed. Food insecurity in one of the world’s poorest countries got worse. Last July, WFP distributed cash to 2,700 people in the flood-prone Banke and Bardiya districts, targeting families headed by disabled people, older people, and women. In this article, they share their stories of loss and devastation. The Sunars lost cherished family photographs in the floods. WFP-distributed cash support provides vulnerable communities with the means to secure essential items in anticipation of floods.
Spurred by the pandemic, inequality between students threatens to grow deeper and wider in 2021. The lack of technology at home and limited connection to the internet, together with economic instability, puts girls, rural students and socio-economically disadvantaged children at risk of being left behind. Thanks to school meals and remote learning resources, students like Fatema can continue to learn and grow at home while schools remain closed in Bangladesh. “I have been studying on my own at home [during the pandemic] and my sister helps me with my studies,” says Fatema. “I like studying on my own because nobody disturbs me, but I will feel very good when the schools reopen.”
Nosiba Khatun sits amongst the ashes of what used to be her home, her only possession now is the food assistance she just received from WFP. 500 shelters were destroyed in the fire. Within just hours of fire breaking out, WFP sprung into action. It has provided around 3,500 people from the camps, and the wider community, with more than 21,000 hot meals. Nosiba is one of 22,500 Rohingya refugees who live in the Nayapara Registered Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, which is run by UNHCR. She and her family have been living here since the 1990s when one of the first groups of Rohingya fled violence in Myanmar and sought safety in neighbouring Bangladesh.
WFP reports that the coronavirus pandemic is undermining efforts to improve diets and nutrition for nearly 2 billion people in Asia and the Pacific, according to an FAO report published today. The Asia and the Pacific Overview of Food Security and Nutrition states that 1.9 billion people were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2019—the year that is the focus of the study—while estimates suggest the disruption caused to livelihoods and economies by COVID-19 only worsened problems in 2020, hitting women and children aged under 5 hardest, in spite of economic growth.
In the year the coronavirus pandemic deepened the global hunger crisis—the World Food Programme (WFP) was at hand, providing life-saving assistance, working to save and change lives, against all odds. Below is a selection of stories from our staff around the world. From building fragile nations’ resilience and helping them graduate out of food insecurity to providing cash assistance that empowers the stigmatized LGBT+ community, WFP saves and changes lives around the world. Pictured is a community resilience project that helps people in Central Sahel fight against the impacts of conflict and hunger through rehabilitation of barren land.
WFP’s fundraising app, ShareTheMeal, was recognized by both Google and Apple as one of the best apps of 2020.
Fierce rivals by tradition, football clubs Roma and Lazio, of Italy's top-tier Seria A league, have found common cause: supporting the World Food Programme's Stop The Waste campaign. The drive, now in its third year, aims to raise awareness around how food waste plays into the hands of global hunger. As part of the collaboration, players are being encouraged to advocate for healthy diets in public engagements and on social media, while pressing home the importance of reducing food waste.
Madagascar: Drought and COVID-19 push 1.5 million people to the brink
"People dig into the sand to find water but they rarely find any," WFP's Aina Andrianalizaha, who is visiting affected areas, wrote. "They can no longer plant and have, as a result, come to offer to exchange their scarce cooking utensils for a piece of cassava." According to the latest Integrated Food Phase Security Classification figures, 100,000 children aged under 5 are in danger of acute malnutrition — 19,000 appear to be in a ‘severe' situation. The World Food Programme (WFP) is calling for nearly US$35 million to avert catastrophe in the country of 25.5 million people in coming months.
The Training and Reincorporation Centre may sound forbidding but it’s a place where former combatants in Colombia’s conflicts can learn poultry and fish farming with the support of the World Food Programme (WFP). Edgar, a FARC ex-combatant, is one of 187 former combatants and their families who take part in agricultural projects as part of a process to bring them all back into mainstream society. The aim is to train people to diversify both the production and consumption of food; while providing access to local markets.
WFP responds as refugees from Ethiopia seek sanctuary in Sudan
Having taken up his current position as WFP Country Director in Chad after experiences in war-torn countries — most recently, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) — Claude Jibidar has witnessed first-hand how conflict and hunger feed each other. “While conflict is widely acknowledged as one of the main drivers of hunger, there are also many examples where hunger is at the roots of conflict… We must come together to seek pathways to peace and stability and avert the loss of a generation of children to hunger and malnutrition induced by conflict,” says Jibidar.
In this latest episode of Awake at Night, host Melissa Fleming speaks with Richard Ragan, the Country Director of the World Food Programme in Bangladesh. “I don't want one person that I'm responsible for to be hungry. And you know, that, that keeps me up at night, for sure. But the thing that scares me, probably more than anything, and, you know, there's no vaccination for it is, is climate change. You know, I think COVID is a wake-up call for all of us, it does not discriminate. It's like the waves or the mountains, it doesn't care.”