World Food Program USA

World Food Program USA (WFP USA) is a nonprofit organization that builds support in the United States to end global hunger. WFP USA engages individuals and organizations, shapes public policy and generates resources for the United Nations World Food Program.
Jan 15, 2015

WFP Responds to the Ebola Crisis

Martin Penner is a Public Information Officer for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) based in Rome. In October, the former journalist traveled to Liberia to assist WFP's emergency operation delivering medical supplies, food, equipment and aid workers to address the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Martin shared his experiences with supporters and colleagues at the WFP USA headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

On the general state of mind for people living through this outbreak:  

I was seeing a traumatized nation, to be honest. Obviously, when you get down to a granular level, you can see different degrees of trauma, but it’s affecting everybody in some way. I remember when I was at a food distribution site out in a rural area, some of the women in the village were queuing up. As we do, we try to encourage people not to touch each other and to wear long sleeves and obey a no-touch policy. There was a woman who was standing in the queue and there was a guy nearby who accidentally bumped into her and she yelled at him quite aggressively, saying “Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!” And this was quite a small village where everybody knows everybody else. In a situation like that, you can see how in Liberian culture—which is a very physical, tactile culture where people hug each other and shake hands— Ebola has really driven an axe right into the heart of human interaction, making people behave in what for them is a very unnatural way.

How Ebola survivors are coping:

I remember when I went to another distribution site, I was talking to a woman who had had Ebola, as had the rest of her family. Her husband had died of it and four of her children had died of it. The only two left was this woman and her 10-year-old son. I had wanted to write a story about her, but I realized when I was talking to her that this woman was still traumatized. She hadn’t even had time to digest the situation she had found herself in. I asked her a few questions and her answers were all monosyllabic, understandably, and there was this empty look in her eyes. In the end, I decided it was morally questionable to be disturbing her grief so I left. But it struck me quite deeply. That situation that I witnessed has been replicated hundreds and thousands of times across the region. So all across the region you’ve got survivors who are still reeling psychologically from the effects. Apart from the psychological effects, they're still struggling with how they’re going to carry on, how they’re going to make a living, where they’re going to find a livelihood in the coming weeks, months and years.

Explaining the kind of foods WFP is delivering:

In many cases, we’re delivering flour, pulses like split peas, cooking oil, rice, salt. Those are the basics that are probably the most common. Alongside that, we’re also giving out a product called Super Cereal, a very nutritious fortified flour that can be made into a porridge, which is easy to prepare and extremely nutritious. It helps in situations where we see a danger of malnutrition, especially for young mothers and very small children.

How WFP is collaborating with other NGO’s and partners on the ground:

In  many ways, the local staff are doing more than anybody else by putting themselves out there at risk for this humanitarian ideal. They are the people who are going into these villages and they’re standing there and handing out food. They’re doing this day after day after day. They wear rubber gloves and faces masks, but there’s always a risk. I’ve spoken to some of the people who are doing this and there’s a level of dedication that really humbles me. I came back from my short mission to Liberia and some people were treating me like some sort of humanitarian hero. But absolutely not. My experience was nothing compared to those people who are doing this every day. They go back to their families and there’s all sorts of anxiety connected with that. Before you go back, you have a bath in chlorinated water so you can have a relaxing evening with your family. But your family is worried and you’re worried yourself and you don’t feel quite right about hugging your children because who knows what’s going to happen 21 days down the line. There are so many people doing this work day after day. It’s humbling. WFP could not do what it’s doing in West Africa without our local partners.

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Jan 6, 2015

Food can be a tool of peace

CBS recently aired special segment on “60 Minutes” examining the devastating crisis in Syria. What really touched me was the impact of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in saving millions of lives each day thanks to supporters like you.

Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, more than a third of the country’s population have fled their homes. More than half of these refugees are children.

The conflict in Syria is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis and WFP's largest and most complex emergency worldwide. Starvation has become a weapon of war against entire communities. One refugee summed up the hunger crisis in one line: Hunger doesn’t just destroy your body. It destroys your soul, your mind and your faith in the world.

Funding woes have become a constant concern for WFP as the violence in Syria continues to escalate and WFP had recently been forced to cut its food voucher assistance to 1.7 million Syrian refugees due to a lack of funding. But, thanks to donations and the unprecedented support of the American people, WFP has reinstated the voucher program to Syrians who have fled their homeland.

WFP has succeeded, despite fighting and problems of access, in meeting the food needs of 4 million of displaced people inside Syria and up to 1.8 million refugees in neighboring countries. None of this is possible without your support. Thank you.

If hunger is a weapon of war, food is a tool of peace. Thanks to your support, we are making a difference and feeding the dreams of a peaceful future in Syria. Please visit wfpusa.org/hungerhotspots to learn more.

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Oct 7, 2014

WFP in Syria is facing a funding shortfall

The Syrian crisis is now in its fourth year. Having fled their homes to escape the conflict, millions of Syrians are now without jobs, money or reliable access to food. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is running out of funds to provide food for almost 6 million Syrians receiving its life-saving assistance. In Syria, the size of next month’s food ration will be reduced and in neighboring countries the number of refugees receiving food or vouchers will be cut.

WFP has reached a record number of people whose lives have been turned upside down due to this crisis. It is a cruel irony that recently, WFP has had better access inside Syria enabling them us to reach a record number of people in August, including those in hard-to-reach areas. But just as WFP has the potential to scale up, the cupboard is bare, and unless we receive new contributions we will be unable to provide people with desperately needed food.

“We have reached a critical point in our humanitarian response in Syria and in neighboring countries and unless we manage to secure significant funding in the next few days, I am afraid we will have no choice but to scale back our operation,” said Muhannad Hadi, WFP’s Regional Emergency Coordinator for the Syrian crisis.

WFP is funded entirely by contributions from governments, the private sector, other organizations and individuals. Hadi acknowledged that other emergencies were competing for donors’ attention and that aid budgets were stretched. But he said that in Syria, needs were still high and that the international community had made progress in recent weeks in gaining access to many people in hard-to-reach areas.

Muhannad Hadi adds: “The world has come together with huge generosity to provide food and other assistance over the last three years, and it is heart-breaking to think that we can no longer build on that investment that has given some stability to the shattered lives of so many people.”

Help WFP continue to reach as many people as possible in Syria by making a donation today.

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