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.
May 8, 2015

How Cell Phones are Solving Hunger

Do you ever wonder how WFP determines which communities worldwide are suffering from chronic hunger—and how best to help them?The answer is an acroynym: VAM, which stands for "Vulnerability and Mapping."

WFP's VAM unit utilizes advanced technology like geographic information systems (GIS) and mobile data-collection platforms like tablets and smartphones to help women like Agnes, a widow and mother of six who lives in a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Every month Agnes get a call on her mobile phone—contrary to popular belief cell phones are fairly widespread in Africa—from WFP. She's asked questions like:  

  • What has your family eaten today?
  • How recently has your family consumed milk or eggs?
  • Do you have enough money to buy food in the local market near your home?

Her responses are entered into an electronic system that updates in real time. This enables WFP to utilize the most recent information when planning for and providing food or vouchers to women like Agnes.

VAM data is particularly critical in emergency situations from natural disasters to conflict and civil war when movement is challenging, timing is critical and food is scarce.  

In West Africa, for example, VAM staffers have been sending out questionnaires via text message to families affected by the Ebola Virus outbreak. The information collected from these short surveys has been critical in helping WFP understand everything from local rice prices to availability of food and even average wage rates.

In countries where conflict may not be widespread but poverty is, VAM staffers are often called up to do assessments of food availability and market access to determine whether families are at risk, especially pregnant women and young children

Following the global food and economic crises in 2008, WFP created this online food price database to regularly survey about 70 countries and more than 1,000 markets. Information from the database is used in a quarterly report about staple food prices in vulnerable countries.

The market and food price data WFP collects is utilized not only by WFP but also by a multitude of NGOs, UN agencies and governments who use this information to create smart strategies for reaching those most vulnerable.

With the help of a simple cellphone, WFP is delivering hope and preventing hunger in homes across the globe. 

May 8, 2015

Hope Looks Like: Running Water at School

In the courtyard of the Musimi Primary School in Tanzania sits a 6,600-gallon water tank painted bright blue and white—the signature colors of the United Nations World Food Programme.

Nearby, a fallen log painted in the same colors bears the words: "Thank You WFP For Blessing Us With Clean And Safe Water."  

The school is home to some 996 boys and girls in 1st grade through 7th grade along with just two dozen teachers. Until 2013, boys and girls at this school began their mornings by walking nearly two miles each way to the nearest well and lugging back with them plastic jugs of water that could weigh as much as 20 pounds. 

By the time these boys and girls arrived at Musimi, most were exhausted; they usually made the trek on an empty stomach. Like the rest of their families, children in this rural area in central Tanzania used to eat one meal a day if they were lucky. 

That is, until WFP came along. In 2013, WFP helped construct this water tank and launch its school meals program, which has already boosted attendance at Musimi from 74% to 98% over the past two years. 

Since then, local parents have formed a school committee to talk about ways to improve their children's education. So far, they've built a covered dining hall so their sons and daughters can eat together in the shade and planted a garden in the courtyard that is flourishing, thanks in part to the nearby water tank, where students can walk right over and simply turn the spigot for cool, clean water. 

 

Apr 8, 2015

Life After Ebola: Why I Joined WFP

Juliana lost her mother, husband, sister and son to the Ebola virus that has ravaged Sierra Leone. As she lay in a hospital bed in the southeastern city of Kenema last July, Juliana thought she would follow them. But she survived Ebola—and the stigma that often surrounds it—and landed a job as WFP Logistics Assistant.

Today she dreams of continuing her studies and becoming a nurse like her mother. Her story reflects the courage of a nation that continues to fight the deadly virus:

"My mother was the first person to die, on 19 July at sunset. Then my son died on 31 July. The next day, my sister died at 2 p.m., sharp. And my husband died on 19 August. He was the last person in my family who died on me.

For three days, I sat in a room by myself, crying. I thought: "If I don't have my mother with me anymore, what will become of me?" 

My mother was the first one to get Ebola. She was a nurse at the government hospital. That's where she got it. She became very sick. She couldn't walk. She died a few days after being admitted for treatment. 

Then my younger son, Emmanuel, became very weak. I also felt sick. I got tested at the government hospital, and they told me I had Ebola. So I was admitted with Emmanuel. He died in my arms. He was 11 months old. 

When I entered the hospital, I wasn't confident that I would make it out alive. Later, my husband was admitted as well. They discharged me a few days before he died.

The nurses and doctors told me not to be discouraged. But when I got out, people looked at me with dark faces. They did not want to see me in the community. They mocked me. They said that because I had had Ebola, I was no longer a human being. I told them, ‘Ebola is a sickness. And I don't have Ebola any more.'

In September, I joined WFP as a Logistics Assistant. I like the work. The job helps take my mind off the trauma of my sickness and of losing my family. Laye Kourouma, who heads our Kenema office, has been like a father to me. And my colleagues have really helped me to be happy and have hope again. 

Today, I'm happy and I'm earning a living. My surviving son Alie and I can count on a daily meal, a comfortable place to sleep and clothes to wear. And I'm accepted again. People now come close to me, because they saw that I was accepted by colleagues at WFP

I'm hopeful that my country will win against Ebola. Now, people know about the disease and how to prevent it from spreading; like not touching the sick or washing dead bodies. Instead they call the emergency hotline and health workers to do the job. 

When school reopens, I will send Alie. He's six years old. I also want to go back to school this year. I want to become a nurse, like my mother, and to save people's lives."

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