As 2019 drew to a close, WFP raised the alarm with world leaders. The deepening crises in hotspots like South Sudan and the Central Sahel region of Africa; more frequent natural disasters and changing weather patterns; the economic crisis in Lebanon affecting millions of Syrian refugees. The world was already facing a perfect storm.
Now the COVID-19 pandemic threatens a hunger pandemic in the poorest countries where the vast majority of WFP’s beneficiaries live. We must come together as one united global community with a coordinated plan to defeat this virus and protect the most vulnerable nations from its devastating effects.
This Year in Review illustrates how WFP is working across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus to break the deadly cycle of hunger and poverty. In every respect, 2019 was a record year: WFP assisted 97 million people – the largest number since 2012 – while operating in 88 countries. We swiftly and effectively responded to Level 3 and Level 2 emergencies in 20 countries – the highest annual total ever. Donors stepped up their commitments by providing a record-breaking US$8 billion.
In South Sudan and Zimbabwe, WFP’s ability to quickly ramp up humanitarian assistance helped to avoid famine. After the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in Yemen deteriorated early in 2019, WFP nearly doubled its support in some areas despite huge security, access and supply constraints. In the Sudan, WFP became the first United Nations agency since 2011 to be given humanitarian access to Blue Nile State.
Alongside conflict, the other major driver of global hunger is the impact of the changing climate on agricultural production. WFP’s asset-creation programmes helped protect the livelihoods of vulnerable households from extreme weather shocks and paved the way for rural transformation.
I want WFP to be the development partner of choice for donor governments, with programmes that deliver cost savings and positive returns on investments. The work we are doing on school feeding, climate resilience, community sustainability and peacebuilding are just exciting glimpses of the future – there is a whole lot more to come.
David Beasley Executive Director - World Food Programme