Instagram Live talk: Digital technologies help World Food Programme fight food insecurity in Syria

On International Human Solidarity Day, Dec 20th 2021, we hosted our first-ever Instagram Live discussion with Deputy Permanent Representative Miia Rainne and Ville Kallonen, a Finnish expert working at the World Food Programme. They talked about tackling food insecurity and Kallonen's work as a System Support Officer at the WFP Syria Country Office.

Photo courtesy of Ville Kallonen, WFP, photographed in Chad.

Deputy Permanent Representative Miia Rainne began the Instagram Live talk by asking Kallonen to describe his work in Syria(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window).

Kallonen explained that out of the 5.7 million people receiving food assistance in October, 117,000 received it as electronic vouchers. The e-voucher solution is a payment card that allows people to buy their food from 182 local shops around Syria. Kallonen's job is to coordinate and manage different projects related to the technical solutions used to deliver the voucher assistance.


Looking at food security from his tech point of view, Kallonen pointed out that food assistance is traditionally thought of as food being handed over to people.

"Many people, when they hear food assistance or World Food Programme, they think about food, food being handed over to people, or planes and trucks, things like that. They might not know that in humanitarian assistance, even in complex emergency places like Syria, digital technology and data are critical for us to be able to do our jobs."

Kallonen, for instance, works daily with banks, software development companies, mobile operators, and cloud service providers – companies that most people are familiar with from their wallets or when they're shopping online or companies that are powering their favorite apps.

Private sector partnerships are critical for both the WFP and the UN at large, enabling industry experts like Ville Kallonen to do their jobs in the field.

At the end of the talk, Kallonen highlighted that all kinds of skills and backgrounds, including IT and technological expertise, are highly appreciated by the WFP and essential in the daily work to fight world hunger.

Watch the 18-minute long talk on our Instagram account(layout.types.url.description) (Opens New Window).

 

The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace. Finland has been a steady supporter of WFP for decades; in 2020, Finland's funding to WPF reached over $27 million.