Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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Food assistance

Bringing fresh food to the Sahara desert. © European Union/ECHO/Zaidi Rafik

Why is this important?

Despite some encouraging progress recorded in recent years, about 795 million people worldwide – or around one person in nine – are hungry (UN's The State of Food Insecurity in the World report 2015). Slower and less inclusive economic growth, political instability and the frequency and intensity of natural and man-made disasters have reduced the capacity of the most vulnerable populations to access food.

How are we helping?

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) 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, ECHO has been rolling out its new 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, when the availability of food in shops and markets is not sufficient as disaster victims have lost financial resources for buying it, 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 equipping family farmers with seeds and toolkits.

Last updated
07/10/2015