read more

Food Assistance for Assets

The world’s most vulnerable people tend to live in degraded environments, where resources are scarce and the threat of disaster high. For years now, WFP has worked to tie humanitarian food assistance into a longer-term strategy that reduces hunger and boosts resilience. Our Food Assistance for Assets initiative offers food, vouchers or cash in exchange for building or refurbishing public utility projects – schools, roads, bridges or wells.


Volume of dams constructed


of roads or mountain trails built or repaired

Hectares of land including forests planted or rehabilitated

Wells dug

Bridges built or restored

School meals

School meals (and take-home food for schoolchildren) are a distinctive WFP contribution to reducing hunger and promoting resilience. In many cases, a school meal provided by us is the only hot meal a child will have. The meals keep the child in class – girls in particular – and relieve pressure on the family. They add value to investment in education and strengthen nations in the long term, nurturing productivity and growth. When the produce is supplied by local farmers under the “homegrown school feeding” system, the economic impact is immediately felt.


Schoolchildren who received school meals or take-home food around the world


Schoolchildren fed in Syria alone

Countries where WFP provided technical assistance to governments on school meals

Countries where school meals were at least partly sourced from local farmers

Farm to Market Alliance

Lack of cash, quality seeds or tools; post-harvest losses; and limited access to markets – all trap smallholder households in a low productivity cycle. Initiated by WFP, the Farm to Market Alliance is a consortium of farming-oriented institutions and agri-businesses: it aims to help smallholders move up the value chain, find outlets for their produce, and shift production from a subsistence to a commercial model.

Farmers participating in the Farm to Market Alliance since 2015

Increase in farmers’ income in Rwanda and Tanzania

Cash transfers

Where markets work well, cash transfers empower families to meet essential needs. Dispensed as physical banknotes, e-money or mobile credit, through vouchers or debit cards, cash takes up an ever-increasing share of WFP’s overall assistance. It gives households a measure of choice. It can stimulate local markets, and cut procurement and transport costs. Distributing cash, in other words, may save cash, offering value to both donors and people in need.


People who received cash assistance from WFP


The amount distributed in cash by WFP

Countries where WFP distributed cash

The share of cash within WFP’s assistance portfolio

The power of gender equality

The goal of food-secure societies implies a gender transformative agenda. This is central to WFP’s policy and practice. Whether we support women smallholder farmers; protect beneficiaries from gender-based violence; engage men in nutrition responsibilities; enable girls to finish their education; or increase women’s say in the way food is shared within families, the pursuit of equal and equitable access to food is a primary concern.

Proportion of women and girls among total beneficiaries

Proportion of girls among primary schoolchildren who received school meals or take-home meals

Proportion of women among people who received cash benefits

Internally too, we aim to reach gender parity among staff, in line with the United Nations System-wide Strategy endorsed by the UN Secretary General in August 2017. The current breakdown suggests there is considerable room for progress, with women particularly under-represented in the “power roles” traditionally associated with male employment.

Proportion of women WFP needs to recruit over four years to achieve overall gender parity

Data and digital innovation

If we are to stand a chance of achieving Zero Hunger, we must relentlessly adapt: the race is on for the best ways to deliver food security for the greatest number, starting with the furthest behind. At WFP, data-led technological change and digital reinvention are both matters of principle and operational necessities. Drones are becoming our analytical allies; blockchain, a preferred delivery method; and knowledge-sharing, a strategic empowerment tool. Investment in innovation is bearing fruit, much of it with the potential to serve broader development aims. SCOPE – WFP’s platform designed to manage digital identities and the assistance provided to individuals – is emerging as a solution for the wider humanitarian community. It allows other organizations to manage their own assistance, and supports governments in implementing their social protection activities.

Governments, sister UN agencies and NGOs using SCOPE at end-2017

Syrian refugees in Jordanian camps who received assistance via blockchain

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for emergency response and preparedness in 19 countries

Teams of start-up entrepreneurs working with WFP to defeat hunger

Hunger-fighting ideas crowdsourced through WFP’s Innovation Accelerator

Syrian refugees abroad skilled up for the digital economy (Tech for Food) in 2016-17


*Figure as of early 2018. Expected to rise to 500,000 by year-end.

In advocating for food security, WFP also sees it as its mission to promote new perspectives. In 2017, we launched an index that seeks to quantify how affordable basic food is – or not – in various developing countries, at purchasing power parity with developed nations. The results are, in some cases, extreme: they shine a stark light on global inequalities in access to food.

Cost of a basic, home-made, nutritious plate of food in New York, USA

Cost of a basic plate of food in South Sudan, at income parity with New York


Counting the Beans: The True Price of a Plate of Food Around the World, 2017 | Read more

Harnessing partnerships

Sustainable development is more than the sum of separate development agendas. At WFP, partnership, as mandated by SDG 17, has long been a core operational concept. Without partnerships, we could not deliver a variety of food-related services in more than 80 countries; synchronize our food assistance with other life-saving and development initiatives; build capacity, internally and among the governments that host us; or pursue our “whole of society” vision which, in every nation, seeks to enlist civil society groups in achieving Zero Hunger.

Government officials trained

Commercial partners engaged in cash distribution

NGOs that worked with WFP in 2017

Corporations and foundations partnering with WFP

Funding – an enduring challenge

Humanitarian needs are growing much faster than available funding – in WFP’s case, despite a peak in donor contributions in 2017, we would have required more than half as much again to avoid painful choices. We have striven to make the money go further. Even so, some beneficiaries saw their rations halved; some families were prioritized over their neighbours; and some projects were discontinued altogether. The donor base remains highly concentrated, with the lion’s share made up by large developed nations and the European Union. Great efforts are being made to diversify funding sources and expand private sector, as well as individual, contributions. Flexible or “unearmarked” funding – which permits WFP to allocate the money where it is most needed – was proportionally at a 20-year low in 2017.


Contribution revenue needed to fully address beneficiary needs


Actual contribution revenue in 2017


Flexible funding in 2017


Donations through the individual giving app ShareTheMeal

Private sector funding as a proportion of the total


Overall funding gap

Zero Hunger
remains our destination.

Help us defeat the odds.

Help us get there.

Afghanistan    Algeria    Armenia    Bangladesh    Benin    Bhutan    Bolivia    Burkina Faso    Burundi    Cambodia    Cameroon    Central African Republic    Chad    Colombia    Côte d'Ivoire    Cuba    Democratic Republic of Korea    Democratic Republic of the Congo    Djibouti    Ecuador    Egypt    El Salvador    Eswatini    Ethiopia    Fiji    Gambia    Ghana    Guatemala    Guinea    Guinea-Bissau    Haiti    Honduras    Iran    Iraq    Jordan    Kenya    Kyrgyzstan    Laos    Lebanon    Lesotho   Liberia   Libya   Madagascar   Malawi   Mali   Mauritania   Mozambique   Myanmar   Nepal   Nicaragua   Niger   Nigeria   Pakistan   Panama   Papua New Guinea   Paraguay   Philippines   Republic of Congo   Rwanda   Senegal   Sierra Leone   Somalia   South Sudan   Sri Lanka   State of Palestine   Sudan   Syria   Tajikistan   Timor-Leste   Turkey   Uganda   Ukraine   United Republic of Tanzania   Yemen   Zambia   Zimbabwe
For more information about our work, please visit www.wfp.org | To download the full 2017 WFP Annual Performance Report please click here
Join us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Join our online community

Photo credits Cover: WFP/Marco Frattini. First section: WFP/Karel Prinsloo; WFP/Kabir Dhanji. Second section: WFP/Saikat Mojumder; WFP/Marco Frattini; WFP/Adedeji Ademigbuji; WFP/Peter Loius; WFP/Laure Chadraoui; WFP/Abdurahman Hussein; WFP/Laven Shangula. Third section: WFP/Badre Bahaji; WFP/Simon Pierre_Diouf; WFP/Giulio dAdamo; WFP/Frantz Jean; WFP/Rein Skullerud; WFP/Miguel Vargas; WFP/Issa Al Awamleh; WFP/Andre Vornic.