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And the Award Goes to… the World Food Programme!

Published by Foreign Affairs Bulletin by IDSA on

More than a week ago, the World Food Programme…


(WFP) was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The decision sheds light on the important work of the world’s largest humanitarian organization, which tries to combat hunger and promote food security. The organization was one of the most crucial ones this year, to fight against the rising food insecurity, caused by the novel coronavirus in many countries.

The WFP is a specialized agency of the UN. It was created by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and in the UN architecture, it is currently under the General Assembly. Its first development programme was in Sudan, in the city of Wadi Halfa – close to the Egyptian border -, where it was helping in assisting 50,000 Nubians who had to resettle due to the construction of the Aswan dam, in Egypt, as waters of the Lake Nasser started to rise.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee highlighted in its announcement the agency’s role over the years to contribute to peacebuilding and improving stability in fragile and conflict affected countries. The same way the connection between poverty and conflict is a complex one, this is also true for hunger. Hunger and famine can be a cause of conflict, much like other economic deprivations, but at the same time so can fighting, as conflict may add to the rising numbers of people living in food insecurity. Often, disease and starvation caused by armed fighting can cause more death than the battles of a war itself. In 2019, 60% of people exposed to food insecurity lived in conflict affected and unstable areas. Earlier this year, the executive director of WFP said that 135 million people are experiencing at least crisis levels of hunger, and that the COVID-19 pandemic can increase this number by as many as 130 million more people close to starvation.

The World Food Program is also a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG), which among others tries to meet the goals of zero poverty and zero hunger. Given current data – such as the World Bank’s estimation that by 2030 two-thirds of all people in conflict-affected or fragile countries will migrate – it seems that in both cases we need to focus on bringing peace and stability to conflict affected places.

This is exactly the reason why the World Food Programme received the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, and just why it is worthy to receive it. The organization had an active role in 2018 in the acceptance of the Security Council’s Resolution 2417, which formally recognizes the link between conflict and hunger. Even today, the biggest of the agency’s operations are in conflict zones, such is the case in Yemen, where their staff is risking their own lives to protect vulnerable communities by providing them with lifesaving food. This award is a tribute to them and to all the local partners, governments, NGOs, and individuals, without whom this could not be possible.

— This piece was written by Aron Lovas, an International Business and Economics Major at the Budapest Business School —