WFP – From Small to Giant Steps
The World Food Programme: From a Small FAO Unit to Top UN Humanitarian AgencyWhen children outgrow their parents…That is what happened to the World Food Programme that started as a small unit within FAO back in 1961 and is now one of the world’s largest humanitarian aid agency addressing hunger and ‘food security’. It was the brainchild of US Senator George Mc Govern who promoted the idea of using US grain surplus to feed “the underprivileged at home and abroad”as he put it. By 1962, his Food for Peace program, that many considered one of the greatest successes of the Kennedy administration, had fed 10 million Americans and 35 million children around the world while the World Food Programme (WFP) had already expanded to a dozen countries, ahead of its “official” start in 1963.
Now, WFP reaches out in over 80 countries to an average 90 million people, of whom two-thirds are children, with a biennial budget hovering around $10 billion – compared to FAO’s average one billion. From its headquarters in Rome, it deploys a staff across the world that is easily four times that of FAO – some 12,000 people whose daily task is to control the logistics of food delivery in areas affected by natural disasters and man-made emergencies, usually wars – the lastest one being Syria and Iraq under the threat of ISIS and Gaza.
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