The response of the World Food Programme
Food aid is a key instrument that can help remove the poverty
traps that hunger causes. The World Food Programme (WFP), the food aid arm of
the United Nations system, focuses on hungry poor households for whom food aid
is an effective means of assuring both relief from their present hunger and help
in their efforts to move out of poverty.
WFP helps build assets and promotes self-reliance of poor people.
- In poor rural areas,
food aid is used in food-for-work projects, especially during periods when
hunger is most prevalent -- the agricultural lean season. Food-for-work during
the lean season not only creates rural assets but also equips the poor
nutritionally to work in normal agricultural production activities.
Food-for-work projects assure short-term food security to the poor in
ways that also create community assets that support self-reliant growth. These
projects build rural roads and irrigation facilities, protect land from soil
erosion and floods, develop markets, build public amenities, and enhance forest
resources. An improved productive base gives the poor a better chance of
escaping from poverty. Improved nutrition gives them a chance to use the
WFP also supports human resource development.
- Its food aid projects help poor
people obtain literacy and education. School feeding projects improve the
nutrition and health of children and increase their physical energy and
alertness. They also help increase enrolment and reduce drop-out rates. In some
countries, food aid is used especially to encourage girls'enrolment and
continued school attendance.
- Where hunger constrains the poor from developing special
skills and receiving training for self-reliance, WFP intervenes with food aid to
remove this constraint. With food assistance, vulnerable groups in rural
communities, especially poor women, can afford the time required to make use of
literacy and skills training programmes to enhance their lives.
WFP works to prevent the transfer of poverty to future
Intercepting hunger before it passes to a new generation is a unique
function of WFP's food assistance -- unique because there is no such thing as
"retroactive feeding". WFP's supplementary feeding programmes target
pregnant and lactating mothers, infants, and children. Often, they complement
other programmes for nutritional monitoring, nutritional education,
immunization, and promotion of proper health and nutrition practices.
- WFP is
actively engaged in responding to the problem of micronutrient deficiencies,
which can lead to serious consequences, including learning disabilities,
impaired work capacity, illness and death. Inclusion of specific health and
micronutrient components in food assistance projects and support to women's
health and nutrition programmes at the policy level are the major components of
The poor deserve a developmental chance; the first step is to
relieve them of their hunger