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The World Food Programme’s Contribution to Improving the Prospects for Peace - Preliminary Report, June 2019

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1. Introduction Background

After decades of progress in reducing world hunger, the number of undernourished people worldwide has been increasing since 2014. The two main drivers of this change are violent conflict and climate change. Today, an estimated 2 billion people live in fragile and conflict-affected areas of the world where they are extremely vulnerable to the impact of conflicts and disasters. In addition, there are more crises that affect more people and last longer than a decade ago. While most humanitarian crises have a number of causes—extreme weather events, compounded by social inequalities and inadequate governance structures being prominent among them—violent conflict is part of the cause of an estimated 80 per cent of humanitarian needs.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the specialized food assistance organization of the United Nations. It is the largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build their resilience. It is well-used to meeting human needs in conflict-torn settings and well-equipped to that end. The WFP is dual-mandated to support social and economic development to ensure long-term food security while also addressing humanitarian crises. Even before the launch of its policy on how to work in peacebuilding settings in 2013, it had begun to explore how food assistance could complement broader efforts to prevent violent conflict and achieve peace. As the global context of humanitarian need has become more demanding over the past half-decade, there has been pressure to achieve greater efficiency. At the same time, responding to the complex character of many of these emergencies, the UN Secretary-General and member states have called for more integrated interventions that address root causes and offer better support for long-term, sustainable solutions and building resilience. These have been picked up by the current Secretary-General in an ambitious agenda for the prevention of violent conflict.

Recognizing the linkages between development, peace and the humanitarian action needed to achieve this, WFP signed up to the ‘Peace Promise’ in 2016. This promise defines the need for collective action across the humanitarian, development and peace spheres as essential for ‘ending human suffering by addressing the drivers of conflict and vulnerability and reducing subsequent humanitarian needs’. Studies such as the 2018 UN and the World Bank report Pathways for Peace demonstrate that investments in resilience can ultimately yield greater progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and less expenditure of time and resources on crisis response and recovery.