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 food insecurity, 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.

How are we helping?

The Commission's European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department is fully committed to providing humanitarian food assistance to victims of food crises around the world and is investing massively in the response to the countries facing risk of famine (Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen) in an integrated approach.

Overall, 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 in this sector. 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, when the availability of food in shops and markets is not sufficient and the victims of disasters have lost their financial resources to purchase food, the European Commission helps vulnerable people get access to the food they need by providing them with cash-based assistance. 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 food insecure rural households, including equipping vulnerable family farmers with seeds and toolkits.

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