European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

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Food assistance

Sharing a family meal in Northern Chad.
Sharing a family meal in Northern Chad. © EU/WFP/Chris Terry.

Why is this important?

Despite some encouraging overall progress recorded in recent years, about 108 million people worldwide in 2016 were reported to be facing crisis food insecurity or worse according to the Global Report on Food Crises 2017. This represents a drastic increase compared to 2015, when the figure was almost 80 million. Major food crises were fuelled in 2016 by conflict, record-high food prices and abnormal weather patterns caused by El Niño.

In February 2017, a localised famine was declared in South Sudan, while Somalia, northeast Nigeria and Yemen are at risk of famine.

How are we helping?

The EU Humanitarian Aid is committed to providing nutritious and safe food to victims of disasters.

Almost one third of the EU annual humanitarian aid budget is used to provide emergency food assistance, making the EU one of the world's major donors of humanitarian food assistance. Since 2010, the EU has been rolling out its humanitarian food assistance policy and supported over 100 million people lacking access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food.

EU food assistance is adapted to each specific crisis situation. For instance, in the aftermath of a natural disaster when victims have lost financial resources to buy basic good, the European Commission helps vulnerable people get access to the food they need by providing them with cash or vouchers. This is often more efficient and effective than shipping sacks of rice or flour halfway across the globe. However, if after a disaster no food is temporarily available in the local markets, the Commission provides the most vulnerable with essential food items during critical times.

High priority is placed on providing sustainable solutions and restoring self-reliance, also by building resilience and protecting the livelihoods of vulnerable food insecure rural households, including equipping family farmers with seeds and toolkits.

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