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close this bookThe Hunger Trap (WFP)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentUnderstanding hunger
View the documentHunger sets poverty traps
View the documentNo skills, no future
View the documentHunger makes poverty intergenerational
View the documentThe response of the World Food Programme

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 opportunities provided.

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 generations.

  • 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 this effort.

The poor deserve a developmental chance; the first step is to relieve them of their hunger .