The United Nations Food Program distributes food.
Photo: WFP - Hussam Al Saleh

"Hopefully this year's Nobel Peace Prize can help to draw attention to acute famine"


This year's Nobel Peace Prize goes to the United Nations Food Programme, the world’s leading humanitarian organisation working to eradicate hunger.
"The choice of Nobel Peace Prize recipient recognises the organization's previous work and highlights how important it is in the future," says Swati Parashar, Associate Professor in Peace and Development research.

The United Nations Food Programme (WFP) distributes food to nearly 100 million people in around 80 countries every year.

"The WFP does an important job in distributing food rations to areas affected by war, conflict, and other disasters," says Swati Parashar.

Parashar, together with her colleague Camilla Orjuela, is researching hunger and examines how the aftermath of famine disasters are handled. Accessing how victims are either remembered or forgotten and whether those causing the famine are held to account, can influence the ability to combat hunger in the future.

"The media and decision-makers often focus on the spectacular violence that affects people, while innocent people suffer and die of hunger and starvation. These are conditions which can also be seen as violence," says Camilla Orjuela, Professor in Peace and Development research.

Hunger due to war and conflict

Famine and hunger can be caused by natural disasters, but often human factors contribute to famine situations. Therefore two-thirds of the WFP's work takes place in conflict-affected countries, where the probability of malnutrition is three times higher than in countries without conflict.

"War and conflict contribute to the creation of famine disasters and in such cases, it should actually be possible to distinguish who is responsible for the situation," says Camilla Orjuela.

Famine in the wake of the Corona pandemic

The Corona pandemic has had devastating socio-economic effects, pushing millions more people from low and middle income countries into a situation where food insecurity is increasingly experienced.

"Because of the pandemic, more and more people are vulnerable, which makes WFP’s work even more important," says Swati Parashar.

Camilla Orjuela agrees.

"WFP relies on donations from countries and individuals and hopefully this year's Nobel Peace Prize can help to draw attention to acute famine and encourage the long-term work to combat hunger”, she says.

Text: Evelina Assarsson