World Food Programme

© WFP/Deepesh Shrestha

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the United Nations' frontline agency in the fight against hunger. It responds to emergencies, saving lives by getting food to the hungry fast, and it also works to help prevent hunger in the future.

Canada is a key member of WFP's Executive Board and has been instrumental in enhancing WFP's commitment to equality between women and men (and girls and boys), results-based management, nutrition and emergency assessments. During its time as president of the WFP Executive Board from February 2007 to February 2008, Canada introduced a reform agenda proposing a number of initiatives to strengthen WFP's audit and oversight mechanisms.

In April 2008, in an effort to strengthen the effectiveness of its aid, Canada opened 100 percent of its food aid budget to international procurement with a special emphasis on developing countries. Not only does untied food assistance provide WFP with increased flexibility to purchase locally, which helps to get the food to those that need it as quickly as possible, it also ensures the food is culturally appropriate and helps to develop local and regional markets.

Thematic Focus

WFP's mandate is closely aligned with Canada's international development priority themes of increasing food security and safe and secure futures for children and youth. In 2013, WFP expects to meet the needs of 90 million people in 75 countries.

Food security

WFP is the only United Nations and multilateral organization providing food assistance on a global scale. It is Canada's main partner in preventing acute hunger and reducing chronic hunger around the world. Canada’s priority theme of increasing food security recognizes the importance of food assistance and nutrition.

Children and youth

Canada’s priority theme of securing the future of children and youth focuses on reducing child mortality and increasing access to primary education, both of which can be addressed through school feeding programs. WFP is the world's largest provider of school meals. Getting meals in school helps hungry children learn, motivates children to stay in school, and can provide an incentive for girls to attend school―sometimes helping to reduce gender disparities in enrolment levels.

Strategy for Working with WFP

Canada's international development work with WFP focuses on six strategic objectives:

  1. Strengthening the effectiveness of WFP's existing food assistance programming. This includes:
    • Helping to improve WFP's operations in complex humanitarian situations and natural disasters
    • Encouraging WFP to continue to coordinate with other relevant organizations and to provide leadership by sharing guidelines, reporting on results achieved, and developing lessons learned
  2. Supporting WFP's new innovative programs that target beneficiary gaps and help ensure that food assistance is meeting the needs of vulnerable populations. This includes:
    • Pilot programs in Ghana and Afghanistan that will create and enhance markets for food commodities grown locally by low-income or small-scale farmers, the majority of whom are women, and improve long-term food security
  3. Supporting WFP's focus on integrating improved nutrition into its programming in order to maximize the benefits of food assistance and improve health outcomes in emergencies, which also fits into Canada's focus on improving maternal and child health
  4. Strengthening the effectiveness of WFP's school feeding program intended to ensure that no child goes to school hungry by 2015. This includes:
    • Contributing to the development and implementation of a new WFP policy for school feeding
    • Advocating for an independent evaluation of this policy, including results, within two years to ensure its effectiveness
  5. Supporting flexible, predictable funding for WFP to meet the needs of hungry people. This includes:
    • Helping to reform WFP's financial structure to increase its transparency and accountability to donors.
  6. Supporting the continued improvement and enhancement of WFP's management, accountability and oversight functions, its ability to report on results, and the implementation of its gender equality action plan.


In 2012, with the support of Canada and other donors, WFP:

  • Reached 97.2 million people in 80 countries with 3.5 million metric tonnes of food assistance
  • Provided school meals to 24.7 million children in 60 countries, including take-home rations for 1.3 million girls and 500,000 boys
  • Provided 9.8 million malnourished children with special nutrition support