World Food Program USA's Response to The Ebola Crisis

Operational Summary: 

The Ebola virus has now killed more than 11,000 individuals and nearly 27,000 cases across West Africa have been reported.

In response, WFP is working with the affected countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide food assistance to individuals and communities affected by the Ebola outbreak, supporting their efforts to ensure people affected by the disease do not go hungry.

Since April 2014, WFP has reached 2.8 million people with life-saving food assistance. This food has reduced the risks of Ebola spreading. Surveys after food distributions have shown that during periods of high Ebola transmission, food provided by WFP allows communities to significantly reduce their movements.

WFP is refining its regional response operation in order to continue providing food under the phases of care, contain and transition, alongside the continued health response. ‘Care’ encompasses the provision of nutritious meals for patients (and caretakers) in treatment and the continued nutrition support to survivors (or the survivor and their household) upon discharge. ‘Contain’ covers the food rations to traced contact households and to communities with widespread and intense transmission. 'Transition' support includes providing an initial kick-start of economic and livelihood assistance in affected areas once they are declared ebola-free by health authorities. For example, WFP also supports local markets and economies by purchasing food from local famers and traders when possible. In addition, WFP is providing highly nutritious foods to orphans: in April, over 2,000 ebola-orphaned children received assistance. Orphans staying with foster families received a ration to support the whole household.

The June to September lean season - when food needs are at their highest - promises to be even tougher than usual. During the lean season, WFP aims to provide food assistance to more than 800,000 families.

WFP is also coordinating with governments, UNICEF and partners to safely and gradually resume school meal programs for students in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.


In April, WFP scaled up its assistance under the transition phase in Guinea providing food and/or cash to former affected communities that have been declared ebola- free . WFP has reached almost 320,000 people with food rations and is exploring ways to transition to a mixed food/cash model.

In addition, WFP reached more than 150 survivors and their households during the month of April with enhanced nutrition support.

Schools reopened in January and WFP gradually resumed school meals to more than 110,000 students in 840 schools, coordinating closely with UNICEF, so it supports the same schools. WFP is also planning to expand the program to an additional 812 schools in areas hardest hit by the outbreak.


In April, more than 70,000 people under the transition phase have received a mix of food and cash assistance to support families while stimulating the local economy. WFP has also completed the first round of mobile cash transfers to over 1,200 survivors and their households and more than 500 survivors have received the second round.

WFP also resumed its school feeding programme in April, providing food for more than 100,000 school children with plans to reach 127,000 children from 720 schools across 10 counties with a nutritious meal each day. WFP also plans to provide take home food rations to 5,000 school girls.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is the worst Ebola-affected country, having recorded over 12,000 probable, suspected and confirmed cases. WFP has provided food assistance to nearly 1.4 million people including patients in treatment and holding centers, quarantined families as well as discharged Ebola patients since April 2014. 

Recent assesments in Sierra Leone show that food insecurity has returned to pre-crisis levels (over 40% of surveyed households are food insecure and among them 8% extremely food insecure). However, current negative coping strategies - eating less and cheaper food, for example - show that the situation could worsen during the lean season and affected families need support. In addition, income opportunities – already a challenge before the Ebola outbreak – have been further limited due to the outbreak making families more vulnerable. For example, families who relied on hunting and trading of bush meat have lost their livelihoods.

In Sierra Leone schools began reopening on in mid-April. WFP is preparing to resume its program, aiming to reach about 300,000 children. WFP, through its Food for Work Program (FFW), helped ensure that schools that had been used as centers for Ebola patients were cleaned and decontaminated, and safe for the opening. Working with the ministries of education and health, WFP ensured that 8,000 schools were cleaned up. Participants in the FFW program started receiving food rations in exchange for their work in May.

Funding needs

As WFP continues to help fight the most severe public health emergency in modern times, it requires $150 million to provide food and common humanitarian services until December 2015.

Response Type: 
Food and Nutrition