My experience at WFP: the Field Visits
By Irfan Yar
Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.
As long as I can remember, I have been devoted to volunteerism and humanitarian work. I first started my volunteering experiences in the community kitchen of the refugee camp I lived in at a very young age in Pakistan. My job was to assist the team in delivering food to refugee families who were otherwise unable to gain access to regular, nutritional meals. This foundational experience has remained with me to this day, and has significantly influenced and impacted my professional goals. From this moment on I developed a deep passion for humanitarian work and have since actively strived to work with organizations that provide food and save lives.
Currently, I am interning as a Junior Professional Consultant (JPC) through the UNA-Canada's International Youth Internship Program (IYIP). I work remotely from Canada to support the work of WFP's Headquarters in Rome. To be more precise, I work in the front office of the Executive Board Secretariat (EBS)— which serves as the interface between WFP's Membership (Board Members and Observers) and the WFP Secretariat.
Each year, the WFP Executive Board (EB) organizes an EB Field Visit. The primary aims of this field visit is to (among others):
highlight WFP 's operations in the field and understand the implementation of WFP's policies;
observe the programme's approach and review the programme delivery in the country visited;
understand how and to what extent the WFP contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals;
observe how the UN Agencies support national governments to attain these objectives.
For 2021, the Executive Board Bureau decided to undertake its annual field visit to Mozambique. The trip was scheduled to take place in December 2021; however, due to Covid-19, it had to be postponed to early 2022. Mozambique is a food-deficit country where climate change and conflict in the Cabo-
Delgado province have further increased food insecurity for local residents. During the trip, the EB members will be observing WFP's programming in Mozambique, including cash-based transfers, school feeding, support to smallholder farmers, climate adaptation programming and resilience activities. Also, the visit would provide insight into how WFP is supporting government-led programmes and their implementation.
Entrance to Cabo-Delgado province in Mozambique: a region of protracted conflict which has long affected food security throughout the country.
The field visit is organized in coordination with different divisions and units. The host country office plays a critical role in organizing the trip. In my role as JPC I function as the main focal point between the country office in Mozambique and the Executive Board Secretariat for this year’s field visit. I coordinate with the country office on drafting the plan and making sure that the expected outcomes of the field visit are met. Following WFP's strategic plan, the field trips allow the board to remember to assess progress towards accomplishing the countries strategic plans (e.g. Mozambique Country Strategic Plan 2017-2022). Moreover, the board members would gain insight into the challenges faced by the Mozambique Country office in carrying out their activities.
From WFP's EBS field visit in 2019 to Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. "Displaced Rohingya receive food assistance through WFP electronic vouchers (e-vouchers), a modality that offers them choice and dignity in deciding their food needs at 11 e-voucher outlets run by local contractors" (https://executiveboard.wfp.org/executive-board-field-visit-bangladesh)
The WFP Executive Board organizes its field visits in a highly detailed manner. While working on the Mozambique field visit, I learnt that clear communication is vital for effective collaboration. Besides time management and utilizing resources, I realized that monitoring local and international situations is critical as external factors could significantly affect the trip (e.g. Covid-19, extreme weather, conflict etc.). What fascinated me the most was the comprehensive nature of the visit plan. For example, the agenda and supplementary documents provided details about the dietary needs of each traveler, thorough knowledge on local cultural norms and expectations, essential suggestions on appropriate dress codes, etc. This attention to detail renders the WFP field visits exceptionally beneficial and insightful for the Executive Board Members and allows them to run as smoothly as possible.
From my background growing up in a refugee camp, and helping my community attain greater food security as a child, I feel my journey has now come full circle in adulthood. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be involved in WFP’s lifesaving efforts to fight global hunger, as I have experienced first hand the powerful impact that enhanced food security can have on communities and individuals. I look forward to continuing my mission to save lives through combatting food insecurity and enhancing global humanitarian efforts to one day achieve the aims of SDG 2, Zero Hunger.