Part I: Introduction
In 2021, the continued effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), compounded by increased conflict and climate shocks and worldwide rises in the cost of living, resulted in unprecedented increases in hunger and malnutrition. Acute malnutrition in 80 countries where WFP had an operational presence almost doubled compared with pre-pandemic levels, while a record 45 million people were at grave risk of famine. Significant increases in food and fuel prices and supply chain disruptions severely affected people’s access to food and pushed WFP’s food procurement costs up by 36 percent over 2019.
Progress was made in implementing the United Nations development system reform aimed at enabling governments to regain momentum in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. More than 70 percent of country offices developed business operations strategies outlining their contributions to achieving cost efficiency. Central elements of the latest quadrennial comprehensive policy review were mainstreamed into the new WFP strategic plan for 2022–2025 and the associated corporate results framework.
Part II: Programme performance
A record 128.2 million people were assisted by WFP and its partners in 2021, an increase of 11 percent compared with 2020 and slightly higher than the 9 percent average annual growth in the number of beneficiaries assisted during the five years of the WFP strategic plan for 2017–2021. Distributing 4.4 million mt of food and USD 2.3 billion in cash-based transfers,
WFP reached 8 percent more beneficiaries through food assistance and 9 percent more through cash-based transfers and commodity vouchers than in 2020, with expenditures of USD 8.6 billion.
The increase in the number of beneficiaries assisted outpaced the increase in food and cash-based transfer distributions. WFP therefore had to prioritize assistance by reducing the size of rations or the duration of assistance in many operations because of resource constraints and food and fuel price inflation.
WFP surpassed the 2021 needs-based targets established in the management plan for 2021–2023 for the number of beneficiaries reached overall and the number reached through nutrition-specific interventions, but owing to COVID-19-related school closures it fell short of meeting the targets for the number of schoolchildren reached. In 2021 the resource-based targets for in-kind food distributions were exceeded, but the needs-based targets were not met; nor were either the resource- or needs-based targets for cash-based transfers met. The following paragraphs summarize WFP’s achievements in making progress towards its strategic objectives, using improved performance measurement metrics introduced in 2021. The results reflect the challenges of meeting rising needs without a matching increase in the food and cash-based transfers distributed.
Strategic Objective 1 – End hunger by protecting access to food: Most of WFP’s operations – representing 78 percent of total expenditures – contributed to Strategic Objective 1, which accounted for 95 percent of the food and 93 percent of the cash-based transfers distributed.
WFP implemented eight Level 3 and 11 Level 2 emergency operations in 2021, providing timely life-saving assistance, particularly in Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, where people in some areas faced famine-like conditions. Cash-based transfers increased particularly in Bangladesh, Somalia and Yemen. Outcome level results in WFP’s ability to maintain or enhance people’s access to adequate food were mixed because of funding and operational constraints.
Strategic Objective 2 – Improve nutrition: WFP’s nutrition activities accounted for 5 percent of total expenditures in 2021. Programmes for the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition delivered strong results in improving the nutrition status of the people reached, in part because WFP prioritized the distribution of scarce specialized nutritious foods to the people most at risk.
However, programmes fell short of their targets for the proportion of the eligible population participating.
Strategic Objective 3 – Achieve food security and Strategic Objective 4 – Support Sustainable Development Goal implementation: Results under these two objectives were mixed. Success in strengthening food systems was partially demonstrated by the high proportion of the assisted population reporting increased benefits from the livelihood assets created or rehabilitated through WFP’s activities. However, a large proportion of assisted households were unable to consume a diversified daily food basket or avoid adopting negative coping strategies. As a result of WFP’s capacity strengthening and South-South and triangular cooperation activities, strong performance was recorded in enhancing national nutrition and other policies and programmes and the capacity of national governments to implement the related Sustainable Development Goals. Only moderate progress was made in strengthening national partners’ ownership of emergency preparedness activities.
Strategic Objective 5 – Partner for Sustainable Development Goal results: WFP was successful in supporting national governments and other partners in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, meeting the targets for partners’ satisfaction with WFP coordination and logistics support for the health and humanitarian community. A 93 percent reduction in the use of cash-based transfers compared with 2020 was due primarily to the handover of the large-scale emergency social safety net programme to local partners in Turkey.