World Food Programme - WFP


The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the world's largest humanitarian organization.

WFP Logo

With its mission to fight hunger in the world, the WFP provides food assistance during crises, disasters and conflicts and works with people on the ground to improve their food security and strengthen their resilience.

In 2023, its work helped 160 million people in 120 countries.

Germany actively supports WFP in this task, both financially and politically. As a member of the Executive Board, Germany plays a formative role in the organization's central steering and supervisory body.

Since 2016, Germany has been WFP's second largest donor: in 2023, Germany's voluntary contribution amounted to over 1.3 billion euros.

In December 2020, WFP was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its global efforts in the fight against hunger. In the COVID-19 pandemic, the WFP was the logistical backbone of the entire UN system.

Tasks and goals

WFP was founded by the United Nations General Assembly in 1961, initially as a three-year emergency food assistance program within the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and was permanently established as a de facto independent UN program in 1965.

Since then, the WFP has pursued the goal of combating hunger in the world and improving nutrition worldwide.

The organization's Strategic Plan, which is renewed every four years, defines the organization's goals and tasks. It is based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, in particular SDG 2 on ending hunger and SDG 17 on revitalizing global partnerships to implement the SDGs.

The Strategic Plan 2022-2025 aims to support people at acute risk of hunger with emergency food aid and at the same time improve nutritional foundations through measures to develop and strengthen resilience.

It places greater emphasis on instruments such as anticipatory humanitarian assistance, in order to intervene at an early stage in the event of foreseeable natural disasters, for example, and thus prevent a humanitarian emergency.

Causes of hunger and the current food crisis

The majority of humanitarian crises worldwide are caused by conflicts, natural disasters, economic crises and climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine have further worsened the precarious global food situation.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of acutely malnourished people in the countries where WFP is active has increased dramatically - from 135 million to the current 345 million. Out of these, almost 47 million are at risk of famine, and for 130,000 people it is already a reality (these figures do not include the dramatic development of the food situation for hundreds of thousands of people due to the war in Gaza triggered by the terrorist organization Hamas).

What does WFP do in concrete terms?

The World Food Programme is active in more than 80 countries around the world with over 21,000 people working for it. Providing assistance in emergency and crisis situations and saving lives and livelihoods remain core missions of the organization.

These programmes include

  • direct supply of food, cash or vouchers to victims of crises and disasters, supplemented by
  • transitional assistance to stabilize after acute emergencies and bridge the gap between emergency relief and subsequent development cooperation.

Hunger, peace and development are closely linked. In line with its dual (humanitarian and development) mandate, the WFP is therefore also committed in the longer term to

  • supporting economic and social development,
  • adapting to climate change by contributing to sustainable food systems,
  • the creation of sustainable food security and the reduction of undernourishment and malnutrition,
  • reducing undernutrition and malnutrition, especially among young children and mothers.

Such long-term food security measures strengthen people's resilience, prevent new crises or mitigate their effects and maintain peace.

In addition to food assistance, WFP provides logistical services to other humanitarian actors in the UN system in crisis areas (e.g., air services for humanitarian workers, transport and storage facilities for relief supplies).

Institutional Structure

Since 1996, the Executive Board has been the central management and supervisory body of the WFP. It consists of 36 member states, half of which are elected by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations ECOSOC and half by the FAO Council.

The Executive Board meets three times a year and reviews the projects proposed by the WFP Executive Director, the administrative and program budgets and adopts strategies for individual countries or activities.

Germany is a founding member of the WFP and a member of the Executive Board.

The Executive Director of WFP is responsible for the leadership and management of WFP and all its programs, projects and other activities.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of FAO, after consultation with the Executive Board, jointly appoint the Executive Director of WFP for a term of five years, with the possibility of confirmation for up to a further five years.

WFP has one Deputy Executive Director and three other Associate Executive Directors.


WFP is financed exclusively through voluntary contributions. After years of growth and record donations of around USD 14.2 billion in 2022, it recorded a drastic decline in income to just under USD 8.2 billion in 2023.

These figures reflect the tight budget situation of many traditional bilateral donors. For this reason, Germany is supporting the WFP in diversifying and expanding its donor base.

WFP and Germany

  • Since 2016, Germany has been the second largest donor to WFP after the United States. In 2023, Germany's national contributions made to WFP amounted to more than 1.2 billion euros.
  • Germany also participates through the European Commission's contributions to WFP in line with its quota as an EU member state.
  • The German government supports WFP across the entire spectrum of its dual mandate for (acute) food assistance and long-term projects. By providing a high proportion of flexible grants, Germany makes an additional helpful contribution to WFP's efficiency.
  • Within the German government, the Federal Foreign Office (AA) supports projects in the field of humanitarian assistance, while the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports WFP's medium and long-term development cooperation.

As of January 2024

WFP Executive Director
Cindy McCain (United States of America), since April 2023

World Food Programme
Via Cesare Giulio Viola, 68
Parco dei Medici
00148 - Rome, Italy
Internet: https://www.wfp.org/

Top of page