The World Food programme (WFP) gets the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.
Announcing the award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said the World Food Programme played a key role in multilateral cooperation on making food security an instrument of peace, and has made a strong contribution towards mobilising UN Member States to combat the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict. “The organisation contributed daily to advancing the fraternity of nations referred to in Alfred Nobel’s will. As the UN’s largest specialised agency, the World Food Programme is a modern version of the peace congresses that the Nobel Peace Prize is intended to promote,” the committee said in the announcement.
The UN Body has taken the lead in combining humanitarian work with peace efforts through pioneering projects in South America, Africa and Asia. It emphasised that providing assistance to increase food security not only prevents hunger, but can also help to improve prospects for stability and peace.
Noting that the link between hunger and armed conflict was a vicious circle, the Nobel committee said that war and conflict can cause food insecurity and hunger, just as hunger and food insecurity can cause latent conflicts to flare up and trigger the use of violence. “We will never achieve the goal of zero hunger unless we also put an end to war and armed conflict,” the committee noted in the announcement.
The committee also announced that the work of the World Food Programme to the benefit of humankind is an endeavour that all the nations of the world should be able to endorse and support.
Making a strong appeal to the countries, the Nobel committee said that the world is in danger of experiencing a hunger crisis of inconceivable proportions if the World Food Programme and other food assistance organisations do not receive the financial support they have requested. Moreover the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a strong upsurge in the number of victims of hunger in the world. “In countries such as Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Burkina Faso, the combination of violent conflict and the pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of people living on the brink of starvation,” the committee said. The WFP has demonstrated an impressive ability to intensify its efforts in the face of the pandemic, the committee noted. “Until the day we have a medical vaccine, food is the best vaccine against chaos,” the committee added.
The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation addressing hunger and promoting food security. In 2019, the WFP provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who are victims of acute food insecurity and hunger. In 2015, eradicating hunger was adopted as one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The WFP is the UN’s primary instrument for realising this goal. In recent years, the situation has taken a negative turn. In 2019, 135 million people suffered from acute hunger, the highest number in many years. Most of the increase was caused by war and armed conflict.
On any given day, The WFP has 5,600 trucks, 30 ships and nearly 100 planes on the move, delivering food and other assistance to those in most need. Every year, they distribute more than 15 billion rations and they focus on emergency assistance, relief and rehabilitation, development aid and special operations. Two-thirds of the work of WFO is in conflict-affected countries where people are three times more likely to be undernourished than those living in countries without conflict.
WFP development projects focus on nutrition, especially for mothers and children, addressing malnutrition from the earliest stages through programmes targeting the first 1,000 days from conception to a child’s second birthday, and later through school meals, . It also implements school feeding programmes worldwide and has been doing so for over 50 years. In 2019, WFP provided school meals to more than 17.3 million children in 50 countries, often in the hardest-to-reach areas.