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12. the UN/FAO world food programme

The World Food Programme (WFP) is a joint organ of FAO and the United Nations. It was created, on a three-year experimental basis, by concurrent resolutions of the FAO Conference (Resolution 1/61) and the UN General Assembly (Resolution 1714(XIV)), adopted respectively on 24 November and 19 December 1961. Provision for its continuation “as long as multilateral food aid is found feasible and desirable” was made in concurrent resolutions of the FAO Conference (Resolution 4/65) and the UN General Assembly (Resolution 2095(XX)), adopted respectively on 6 and 20 December 1965.

WFP has its Headquarters in FAO in Rome. It is headed by an Executive Director, appointed jointly by the Director-General of FAO and the Secretary-General of the UN, after consultation with its governing body, the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes (CFA), which is described on pages 173–174. WFP's resources, which consist of commodities, services and cash, are provided by Member Countries of FAO and the UN on a voluntary basis. A portion is reserved for use by the Director-General of FAO in meeting emergency food needs, the amount being decided for each year by CFA in accordance with changing circumstances.

As noted in Chapter 9, FAO was formed when the world was still suffering from food shortages resulting from World War II. Initially, FAO created an International Emergency Food Council to deal with the voluntary allocation of short supplies. As the situation eased, this was first transformed into an FAO International Emergency Food Committee, and then abolished. With the reestablishment of full production in war-affected areas, surpluses of certain products began to emerge in some countries.

In order to deal effectively with its overall mandate of keeping the state of food and agriculture in the world under review, the FAO Council established a Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) in 1949, and as the problem of surpluses reached substantial proportions, the CCP set up in 1954 a Sub-Committee on Surplus Disposal (CSD), later renamed Consultative Sub-Committee on Surplus Disposal. One of its early activities was the drafting of a set of Principles of Surplus Disposal.

Two events during October 1960 set the stage for important developments in the use of food surpluses. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (1496(XV)) on the provision of surpluses to food-deficient people through the United Nations system, and FAO was requested to draft procedures whereby this might be accomplished. The FAO Council in turn authorized the Director-General to undertake a study of the problem, and established a 13-member Intergovernmental Advisory Committee (working within the framework of CCP) to advise him in this study. His report, entitled Development Through FoodA Strategy for Surplus Utilization, was published in March 1961.

The Intergovernmental Advisory Committee was convened by the Director-General in April 1961 to consider the report. At that time the United States proposed the establishment of a three-year experimental programme, with a fund of $100 million, of which the United States was prepared to provide $40 million under that country's Public Law 480, which had been passed to provide a series of means whereby the country's growing agricultural surpluses might be managed. Following favourable ECOSOC reaction to the report and the proposal, the Director-General of FAO and the Secretary-General of the UN were requested to work out details of the proposed programme. A working group met in FAO Headquarters in August 1961 and produced an FAO/UN Proposal Regarding Procedures and Arrangements for Multilateral Utilization of Surplus Food.

This proposal was subsequently approved by the FAO Conference and the UN General Assembly, and provided the basis for the first two resolutions mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. The three-year experimental period authorized covered the years 1963, 1964 and 1965.

The Proposal included provision for the pledging by Member Countries of appropriate commodities, services and cash contributions during a special conference, and the first pledging conference was convened in New York in September 1962. Following the decision to continue WFP, pledging conferences have been held regularly at two-year intervals.

The WFP was supervised from the outset by a 20-nation Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) of the World Food Programme, half of whose members were elected by the FAO Council and half by ECOSOC. The number of members was raised to 24 at the end of 1963.

Following a recommendation of the World Food Conference in 1974, action was taken by the FAO Conference on 26 November 1975 (Resolution 22/75), and by the UN General Assembly on 17 December 1975 (Resolution 3404(XXX)), to convert the IGC into a Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes (CFA), which is described in detail below. The CFA provides general guidance on the policy, administration and operation of WFP, serves as a forum for intergovernmental consultations on national and international food aid programmes and policies, and exercises oversight over WFP in accordance with its established rules and regulations. It normally meets in regular session twice a year, and reports annually to the FAO Council and to ECOSOC; it also prepares periodic and special reports for the World Food Council.

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Roughly two thirds of WFP's resources are provided in the form of commodities, and one third in cash and services. More than half the commodities are such grains as wheat, maize and sorghum, while the most common form of service supplied is shipping. The levels of resources available to WFP since its establishment, by pledging periods, are indicated in Table 3.

Table 3:

Resources of the World Food Programme 1963–1982

 US$ (millions)

Apart from regular pledges, WFP also benefits from resources made available to it from two other sources: the Food Aid Convention (FAC) and the International Emergency Food Reserve (IEFR). Since the inception of the Programme, resources worth US $340 million have been channeled through WFP under the FAC, and US $300 million under the IEFR. The overall size of WFP's operations is indicated by the fact that from 1963 to 1980, more than US $3 billion in commodities and cash were committed for economic and social development, through more than 1, 000 projects in 110 countries. In addition, more than 450 emergency operations were undertaken in 100 countries, at a total cost to the Programme of $600 million.

As noted earlier, the Programme is headed by an Executive Director, who is assisted by a Deputy Executive Director. There are three major sectors in the secretariat, in addition to the Executive Director's Office: a Project Management Division, a Resources Management Division, and a Division of External Relations and General Services. Members of the staff are located at WFP Headquarters and at posts in recipient countries, where field officers monitor the execution of WFP-assisted projects and emergency operations. A chart showing the overall structure of WFP appears on page 171.

The Executive Directors who have provided the leadership of WFP since its establishment are the following:

Executive Director, World Food ProgrammeCountryPeriod
  A.H. BoermaNetherlandsJune 1962–Dec. 1967
  Francisco AquinoEl SalvadorJuly 1968–May 1976
Executive Director ad interim, World Food Programme  
  Thomas C.M. RobinsonUnited StatesMay 1976–June 1977

Executive Director, World Food ProgrammeCountryPeriod
Thomas CM. RobinsonUnited StatesJuly 1977–Sep. 1977
 Garson N. VogelCanadaOct. 1977–Apr. 1981
Executive Director ad interim, World Food Programme  
 B. de Azevedo BritoBrazilMay 1981–

In addition, Dr. Sushil K. Dey (India) served as Acting Executive Director, April 1968–July 1968, and as Associate Executive Director, July 1968–May 1969.

The following officers have occupied the post of Deputy Executive Director of WFP:

Deputy Executive Director, World Food ProgrammeCountryPeriod
 Thomas CM. RobinsonUnited StatesMar. 1969–May 1976
 F.M. UstünTurkeySep. 1976–Dec. 1978
 B. de Azevedo BritoBrazilJan. 1979–May 1981

(Mr. Brito assumed the post of Executive Director ad interim following the death of Executive Director Garson N. Vogel on 29 April 1981.)

Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes

As can be seen from the chart on page 171, the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes (CFA) is the governing body of WFP.

The CFA is a joint committee of FAO and the UN. Half of its members are elected by the FAO Council and half by the Economic and Social Council of the UN (ECOSOC), taking into consideration a balanced representation of economically developed and developing countries, and other relevant factors such as there presentation of potential participating countries (both contributing and recipient); equitable geographical distribution; and the representation of both developed and less developed countries having commercial interests in international trade in foodstuffs, especially those highly dependent on such trade. It was first established in 1961 as the UN/FAO World Food Programme Intergovernmental Committee (IGC), through concurrent resolutions of the FAO Conference and the UN General Assembly. As its name implied, its function was to exercise supervision over the World Food Programme.

The original Committee held its First Session in 1962. The two parent bodies decided in 1965 to continue the World Food Programme and the Committee, on essentially an open-ended or permanent basis.

The World Food Conference of 1974 focused considerable attention on the problems of food aid, and one of its recommendations was that the terms of reference of the IGC should be broadened to include the more general problems of food aid and policies related thereto. Accordingly, in 1975 the FAO Conference and the UN General Assembly took action to reconstitute the IGC as a Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes (CFA). Its terms of reference are as follows:

The Committee shall help evolve and coordinate short-term and longer-term food aid policies recommended by the World Food Conference. It shall, in particular:

  1. provide general guidance on the policy, administration and operation of the World Food Programme;

  2. provide a forum for intergovernmental consultations on national and international food aid programmes and policies;

  3. review periodically general trends in food aid requirements and food aid availabilities;

  4. recommend to governments, through the World Food Council, improvements in food aid policies and programmes on such matters as programme priorities, commodity composition of food aid and other related subjects;

  5. formulate proposals for more effective coordination of multilateral, bilateral and nongovernmental food aid programmes, including emergency food aid;

  6. review periodically the implementation of the recommendations made by the World Food Conference on food aid policies.

The CFA consists of 30 members. Terms of membership are staggered so that one third of them expire each year. It has already been noted that when first established in 1961, the IGC had 20 members, the number being increased to 24 in 1963. The present number took effect when the Committee was reconstituted as CFA in 1975.

Those who served as Chairman of the UN/FAO World Food Programme Intergovernmental Committee during the period of its existence were —

Chairman, IGCCountrySessionsYear
 J. PonsUruguay1 and 21962
 A.M. TurnerCanada3 and 41963
 A. ShihiMoroccoS and 61964
 H.J. KristensenDenmark7 and 81965
 E.A. OkwuosaNigeria9 and 101966
 Dr. W. LambyFed. Rep. of Germany11 and 121967
 J.S. MongjaIndia13 and 141968
 J.G. McArthurNew Zealand15 and 161969
 J.M. FiguereroArgentina17 and 181970
 F. ShefrinCanada19 and 201971
 M. AksinTurkey21 and 221972
 A. MairUnited States23 and 241973
 R. Soegeng-AmatIndonesia25 and 261974
 Dr. A.S. TuinmanNetherlands27 and 281975

Those who have served as Chairman of the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes since its establishment have been —

Chairman, CFACountrySessionsYear
 A.M. Al-SudearySaudi Arabia1 and 21976
 H.R.A. GranquistSweden3 and 41977
 G. Gamo-KubaCongo5 and 61978
 P. GriffinIreland7 and 81979
 P. MasudPakistan9 and 101980
 Eugene MooreUnited States11 and 121981


Office of the Executive Director

This Office includes the Executive Director, an Assistant to the Executive Director, and the Deputy Executive Director.

The Office of the Executive Director also includes —

an Economic Adviser, who traditionally is named by and outposted from the UN Department of Technical Cooperation for Development;

a Policy Unit which, together with the Economic Adviser, assists the Executive Director in planning the activities of the Programme and preparing — in collaboration with FAO — reviews and analyses of food aid needs and availabilities;

an Evaluation Service which assesses the attainment of the objectives and the social, economic and nutritional impact of projects, both prior to additional commitments of WFP aid to them and on their completion;

a Field Inspection and Training Officer charged with maintaining and upgrading the professional competence and performance of World Food Programme field staff and their operations in assisted countries;

a Liaison Officer outposted to New York, in order particularly to facilitate WFP cooperation with UNDP, UNICEF and the World Bank.

Project Management Division

From its origin, WFP's assistance has been provided exclusively on a project basis, which involves distributing food directly to the beneficiaries of economic and social development projects designed and implemented by governments in the developing countries themselves. This is so because project food aid offers distinct advantages and safeguards: it can be directed to those who need it most; the development objectives it serves can be clearly identified; the government's investment is frequently greater than the value of the food-aid component of the project, and commitment to successful implementation is therefore greater; activities not susceptible to conventional financing can be assisted; and monitoring and safeguards aimed at preventing disincentives to local agricultural production or disruption of normal trade are facilitated.

Project food aid can also help toward the achievement of self-sufficiency in recipient countries, especially in agricultural and rural development and in improved nutritional standards. Its role in emergency situations is fundamental, and it can also serve in establishing and maintaining food reserves in developing countries.

In supporting projects for the development of human resources and the creation and extension of physical infrastructure to advance agricultural and rural development, WFP has actively sought to help in combatting unemployment, under-employment and malnutrition and in furthering health education and training programmes. WFP assistance has therefore been used as a capital input in developing human and physical resources required for increasing production and improving standards of living, especially in rural areas.

When WFP began operations in 1963, three divisions were created: a Programme Development and Appraisal Division, a Programme Operations Division, and an External Relations and General Affairs Division. The first two of these are involved in the history of the present Resources Management Division.

The Programme Development and Appraisal Division was responsible for identifying projects suitable for WFP assistance, assisting governments in preparing formal project requests, analyzing the requests and seeking technical advice from technical organizations in the UN system on the proposed projects. The Division was entrusted with processing projects up to the time of their approval, negotiating with governments the agreements for their execution, and evaluating WFP projects through its Appraisal Branch.

As soon as an agreement was signed, responsibility for ordering the necessary food shipments and for following the execution of the project was shifted to the Programme Operations Division.

In 1969, a survey of the organization of the WFP was carried out by a consultant firm specialized in organization and methods, and it was eventually decided to merge the Programme Development and Appraisal Division with the Programme Operations Division, as it was considered that the distinction between planning and operations had been detrimental to a constant feedback of operational experience into planning techniques. At the same time, the Resources Branch of the former Programme Development and Appraisal Division became independent as a new Resources Management Division, and the appraisal functions of the Programme Development and Appraisal Division were transferred away from it, the Appraisal Branch becoming an Evaluation Service responsible directly to the Executive Director, for the sake of increased objectivity.

The Division thus became the Project Management Division, responsible for project planning and operations. It is divided into five regional branches as follows:

Latin America and Caribbean Branch

North Africa and Near East Branch

Western Africa Branch

Europe and Eastern Africa Branch

Asia and Pacific Branch

In addition, the Division includes an Emergency Unit dealing only with requests for emergency assistance and with the execution of approved emergency operations. Prior to 1976, emergency operations were dealt with by the regional branch concerned.

Leadership in the Project Management Division and its predecessor Programme Development and Appraisal Division has been provided by —

Director, Programme Development and Appraisal DivisionCountryPeriod
 Dr. Sushi] K. DeyIndiaAug. 1962–Apr. 1968
Director, Project Management Division  
 Otto MatzkeFed. Rep. of GermanyMar. 1969–Jan. 1974
 G. HuttonCanadaFeb. 1974–Apr. 1976
 K. KrishanIndiaAug. 1976–Mar. 1977
 R.M. CashinUnited StatesJune 1978–

During the period April 1968–March 1969, Mr. O. Matzke (Fed. Rep. of Germany) served as Acting Director, Programme Development and Appraisal Division, and during the period April 1977–May 1978, Mr. E.E. Lühe (Fed. Rep. of Germany) served as Acting Director.

Resources Management Division

The origins of this Division can be traced back to the inception of WFP, when two posts, respectively for an Inventory Officer and a Shipping Officer, were established in what was then the Programme Operations Division to handle commodity pledges and transportation matters. When the Programme became fully operational in 1963, these functions were merged into a Commodity and Shipping Branch, the staff of which was strengthened as required to meet the rapidly growing workload in this area of WFP activity.

With the reorganization of the Programme in 1969, the Commodity and Shipping Branch was upgraded to full division status under the present title of Resources Management Division, with the following main functions:

The Resources Management Division is organized as follows:

Resources and Purchases Branch
Commodity Programming and Purchasing Section
Project Budgets and Commodity Accounts Section

Transport Branch
Shipping Section
Insurance and Cargo Claims Section

Since 1979 the Programme's computerized information system has been attached to the Director's Office as a special unit.

Those who have provided leadership in the Resources Management Division and its precursors have been —

Director, Programme Operations DivisionCountryPeriod
 T.C.M. RobinsonUnited StatesSep. 1962–Mar. 1969
Chief, Commodity and Shipping Branch  
 J.B. SinclairUnited KingdomFeb. 1963–Feb. 1969
Director, Resources Management Division  
 F.M. UstünTurkeyMar. 1969–Aug. 1976
 Munzer El MidaniSyriaMay 1978–

During the period September 1976–April 1978, Mr. W.K. Davis (United States) served as Acting Director of the Division.

Division of External Relations and General Services

This Division was created at the time the Programme became operational in . 1963, and one of its officers served as Secretary of the IGC. In 1969, it was decided to assign responsibility for budget and administrative matters to the Division, which has three main functions:

The Division has two branches, as described below.

The External Relations and General Affairs Branch is responsible for liaison between WFP and the legislative and deliberative organs of FAO and the UN on all matters except those relating to projects and administration. It also follows all matters of interest to WFP that are dealt with by ACC and its subcommittees. It handles liaison between WFP and other bodies and organizations in the UN system, as well as other governmental and non-governmental organizations, with particular regard to meetings with UN, FAO, ILO, WHO and Unesco staff concerned with the technical scrutiny, appraisal and evaluation of WFP-assisted projects. In addition, a special unit within the Branch is responsible for coordinating the procurement and delivery of nonfood inputs financed or otherwise made available by other bodies and organizations in the UN system, or by bilateral donors and voluntary groups, to ensure better implementation of WFP-assisted projects.

The Chief of the Branch acts ex officio as the Secretary of CFA, and all the preparatory activities for its semi-annual sessions are carried out in this Branch. It is here that all session documents are edited, and arrangements made for their translation, publication and distribution by FAO's Publications Division. A Public Relations Unit in the Branch prepares and carries out, through the technical services of FAO's Information Division, an information programme to publicize the activities of WFP in both donor and recipient countries. Various media are used: films, slide shows, photographs, press releases and feature stories, journalists' briefings and missions, television interviews, public speeches, brochures, leaflets, etc. The Unit publishes a quarterly bulletin, WFP News, and a newsletter to field staff.

The External Relations and General Affairs Branch is also the official channel for information, often in the form of reports, on the Programme's activities. These may be requested by other bodies or organizations in the UN system, in the fields of their particular competence, or called for by a resolution of the FAO Conference or the UN General Assembly. Reports are also prepared for use in connection with the UN Economic Commissions, or other meetings of a regional character (e.g., Council of Europe).

The Budget and Administration Branch deals primarily with matters related to the administration of the Programme's Headquarters in Rome and of some hundred field offices throughout the world. It is responsible for the preparation and control of budgets related to operational costs at Headquarters and in the field offices. It carries out all administrative actions concerning recruitment, transfer, separation and servicing of WFP staff and administers the procurement, maintenance and disposal of equipment and vehicles at Headquarters and in the field.

Those who have provided leadership in the Division of External Affairs and General Services have been —

Director, Division of External Affairs and General ServicesCountryPeriod
 Albert DollingerFranceMid-1962–Mid-1963
 Paul G. CoidanFranceJune 1963–Sep.1965
 Georges PeisselFranceSep. 1965–Aug.1971
 Joseph S. AnaanGhanaOct. 1971–Mar. 1977
 J.S. MongiaIndiaMar. 1977–Oct. 1980
 E.E. LüheFed. Rep. of GermanyNov. 1980

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