Tuesday, March 20, 2012

WFP beefs up war on hunger

(This is a report written for our paper today)
'With each five dirhams donated to WFP, a hungry schoolchild can be fed for a whole week'
R. Ramesh
The UAE has taken up a primary role in the world’s fight against hunger by hosting the biggest UN emergency response hub of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Dubai.
The WFP manages the response hub with a United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) and procurement services in Dubai and a United Nations Humanitarian Aviation Service unit (UNHAS) in 
Sharjah.Recently relocated to the Dubai Industrial City, the UNHRD Dubai’s 22,500-sq m covered warehouse facilities position it as the biggest depot within the UNHRD network.
These include temperature-controlled areas between 18-25˚C, chiller rooms with temperatures of 2-8˚C, and a large freezer room with a temperature of -18˚C.
In addition to this, there are several outdoor shaded storage areas for bulk items.
A billion hungry people 
It is estimated that one billion people suffer from hunger in the world today. Each year, undernutrition contributes to the death of five million children in developing countries.
“But what most people forget is that it takes so little to make a big difference. With each five dirhams donated to WFP, a hungry schoolchild can be fed for a whole week,” reveals Elise Bijon, WFP Partnership & Business Development Manager for the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
“Our history in the Emirates is closely interlinked to the vision set by the Government of Dubai to establish a global logistical hub tailor-made to the requirements of the humanitarian community,” adds Mohammed Diab, WFP Country Director in the UAE and Director of Donor Relations in the Middle East.
“We are grateful to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and IHC’s Chairperson Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein for their continuous support over the last ten years. Their understanding of our operational needs enabled us to set up what became today the world’s biggest UN emergency response hub,” he added.
Since its establishment in 2001, the WFP Dubai Office has become one of the world’s premier emergency preparedness and fast intervention bases.
“Through our various units, we play a direct role in emergency operations taking place in countries hit by conflicts and natural disasters across the Middle East and all around the world. At the moment, our teams are particularly busy deploying aid to South Sudan, Somalia and Syria,” elaborates Diab.
Set up as part of a network of five central depots located in strategic locations around the world (the UAE, Italy, Ghana, Panama and Malaysia), the UNHRD Dubai serves as a stockpiling platform for WFP and other UN agencies, governmental and non-governmental organisations, which chose to establish a logistical base in Dubai for its central location and world-class air and sea port facilities.
Offering shipping, warehousing and stock management services to aid organisations, the depot holds stock reserves of emergency relief goods such as high energy biscuits, ready-to-use supplementary food, ready-to-use therapeutic food for children suffering from acute malnutrition, ready-to-eat meals, medicines, tents, blankets, IT equipment, water purification units and vehicles. 
‘Everyone’s fight’
According to WFP officials, the UNHRD provided outbound shipping services to approximately 60 humanitarian organisations in more than 90 destination countries in 2011 from its Dubai hub. 
The total number of outgoing shipments from Dubai in 2011 was 650 (combination of sea, air and land) out of which 13 dedicated (charter flights) airlifts were sent to respond to major emergencies in Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Libya, Turkey, Ethiopia, Nairobi and Somalia.
“Hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem, but the WFP can’t do it alone,” says Elise Bijon.
“One in seven people still suffers from hunger. There is no way for a child to grow and learn on an empty stomach. No way for communities that are victims of conflicts or natural disasters, who are too busy looking for food, to plan and improve their future. Building a better world necessarily passes through the fight against hunger, which should be everyone’s fight,” she points out. 
According to Elise, solutions exist, but they need funds to be implemented. 
“The WFP’s programmes aimed at preventing hunger are successfully run around the world, but they also need money to be sustained until supported communities become sufficiently autonomous and food secure,” she points out. 
“Cash donations are preferred as they enable WFP to plan its procurement and logistics operations in a cost-effective way and deliver the appropriate food aid faster and better, at low cost.”
She says that companies eager to support the fight against hunger as part of their CSR strategy can contact the WFP team to explore possible partnership opportunities in line with their focus areas of interest — they can choose the programme and the country/region that they wish to support.

Innovative partnerships
“In the UAE, we have created innovative and flexible partnerships with the private sector — i.e. companies, individual donors, artists, students, etc. — to give a voice to the hungry, support humanitarian work and save lives,” noted Elise. 
The WFP’s Global Vehicle Fleet is also centrally managed in Dubai, with purchase, maintenance and training services available to WFP Country Offices and the entire humanitarian community. 
Chances are that the UN white 4x4 cars you may see on television are actually coming from Dubai.
The WFP Dubai Office also serves as a base for the Fast IT Intervention Team (FITTEST), which takes the lead in setting up IT and telecoms infrastructure during emergencies as part of WFP’s role as the lead agency of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster. 
Most WFP activities in the UAE are also actively supported and partnered by the Red Crescent Authority (RCA). The WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries. 
In emergencies, WFP gets food to people who need it the most, saving the lives of mothers and children and of victims of conflict and natural disasters. 
How your money can help
Dh1 = one school meal
Dhs5 = one schoolchild in need fed for a whole week
Dhs200 = one schoolchild fed for an entire year + monthly take-home rations of food for the family. 



  1. Great reminder... thanks for sharing :)

  2. hmm great work..,,thanks for sharing..

  3. Need to read more about WFP. Thanks for bringing it to my notice. :)

  4. A worthwhile programme, thanks for publicising the work of the WFP.

  5. Wish there are so many more organizations in the world for fund raising and doners donating, so that no child ever goes hugry.

  6. Good write up Ramesh. Wish such programmes are undertaken here too.

  7. Yes, I am supporting Mid Day Meal Program by Akshay Patra here in Bangalore. We seriously need to feed the hungry! Thank you for sharing this report.

  8. Good article, Ramesh. Hope more people/organisations take up work like this.