Innovation should be used to find a solution to world hunger

The Private Sector Partnerships and Innovation Accelerator Lead at World Food Programme Hila Cohen

As surprisingly as it might sound, in 2017 one in every nine people is deprived from access to a nutritious meal on a daily basis.

There are different reasons behind this phenomenon. Natural disasters caused by climate change affect the most vulnerable people around the globe. One major consequence of conflict is hunger. The big conflict in the Middle East affects not only Syria, but also its neighbouring countries – Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

In reality, 20 million people worldwide are on the break of famine. During Webit.Festival Europe 2017 the Private Sector Partnerships and Innovation Accelerator Lead at World Food Programme Hila Cohen talked about how innovation can be used to reach the sustainable development goal of zero hunger.

The World Food Programme is a United Nations agency which delivers food to people who need it the most. Trucks, ships and aircraft supply food to 80 million people a year in the most remote locations in the world. The World Food Programme needs partners like NGOs, governments and the private sector in order to find a solution to world hunger.

“Stopping world hunger is not something we can do on our own.”, Hila Cohen said.

When the location of the delivery is very hard to reach, the food is dropped from the aircraft. In the case of an existing food market, a cash-based transfer is applied. People receive credit cards, a SMS system or paper vouchers which enable them to go to the market and select and buy their own food.

The World Food Programme contributes to the education system’s development by introducing the school feeding concept. The idea behind it is to give food to children in schools, which would mean parents will not have to decide between sending their child to school or to work.

“Even though the world population is growing, the number of hungry people is diminishing.”, Cohen said.

Regardless of this positive trend, if actions are not taken by 2030 the hungry people worldwide are estimated to be around half a billion. By opening the World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator, the agency is counting on technological innovation to help make these numbers go down.

Startups related to food can receive funding and access to the field from the Innovation Accelerator. The variety of countries in which the World Food Programme operates, gives startups a great opportunity to get acquainted with a different ecosystem.


The Private Sector Partnerships and Innovation Accelerator Lead at World Food Programme Hila Cohen

The agency has developed an app called ShareTheMeal, which takes advantage of the fact that there are more people with mobile phones than hungry people on the planet. With the app, you can donate 50 cents at a time and feed a child for a day. Up to today thanks to 50 cents donations, more than 12 million people have been fed.

Food for Tech is another project which aims to empower refugees by giving them tech skills. The idea is that these skills can be used at the current location of the refugees but also at other places they go as they migrate. The World Food Programme is looking into self-driving trucks which will be able to cope with the challenges of places where there is no real roads or a secure Internet connection.

“That’s how we are dreaming. We dream big.”, Cohen said.

Hydroponics is another area of interest for the agency. It enables people to grow food without soil by using water, minerals and a manageable ecosystem. The World Food Programme is testing to use the Blockchain technology to transfer money from the organisation to the people in need.

You can watch her full lecture here:


If you want to keep up with the latest trends in the world of digital economy and technology, then Webit.Festival is the right place for you. Visit our website and book 2 in 1 of our Super Earlybird tickets for Webit.Festival Europe 2018.

Feel the Webit vibe with some of the best photos from this year’s event!


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