The UN World Food Programme and the Development of Food Aid

The UN World Food Programme and the Development of Food Aid

The UN World Food Programme and the Development of Food Aid

The UN World Food Programme and the Development of Food Aid


This book is the first history of the World Food Programme, the food aid arm of the United Nations. It tells the story of the growth of WFP from modest beginings as a three-year experiment in 1963-65 to its current role as the main source of international food aid for both disaster relief and development against the background of the evolution and development of food aid.


I was in my office at the University of Khartoum in the Sudan one day in March 1963 when three people visited me. One of them spoke: ‘We are from the World Food Programme. We would like you to be a consultant for us.’ This came as a complete surprise to me. I had no idea what the ‘World Food Programme’ was, and I had no advance intimation that I would be approached to act as a consultant for that organization.

I invited them into my office and over refreshments learned about the new United Nations organization that had recently begun operations and who my visitors were. One was Sushil Dey, who had invited me to be a consultant to wfp, an Indian who was director of WFP's Programme Development and Appraisal Division and a leading light in the development of the organization. the others were Marcel Ganzin, a Frenchman who was WFP's nutrition adviser, and Dr Kool, a Dutchman and economic adviser to wfp. They were visiting Sudan to appraise a government request for wfp assistance to help in the resettlement of people whose homes and land at Wadi Halfa, close to the Sudan/Egyptian frontier, were about to be flooded as a result of the construction of the High Dam in Egypt. They were to be resettled at Khasm el Girba in eastern Sudan, where I had been undertaking research work. I accompanied the three visitors to the resettlement area, which was to become the site of the first WFP-assisted development project (Sudan 001). I was then invited to be consultant to wfp for Africa and the Middle East.

A few months later, I received another visitor. This time it was Dr Hans Singer (now Professor Sir Hans Singer), who at the time was un special adviser to the executive secretary of the recently formed United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He had already played a leading role both at the United Nations in New York and at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome in the creation of wfp. Thus began a glorious friendship that has endured to the present time.

Little did I know at the time that these two events were to be the beginning of what proved to be an involvement in food aid and an association with wfp that was to last for over three decades. I subsequently joined the staff at wfp headquarters in Rome, Italy, first as a senior evaluation officer, then as senior economist and head of the Policy Unit in the Office of the Executive Director, later as economic adviser, and, finally, as chief of WFP's Policy Affairs Service until my retirement in August 1994.

Two main reasons have motivated me to write this book, which is the first comprehensive history of wfp. First, a deep feeling of obligation to set on

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