“I read with interest your very thoughtful post seeing the Haiti earthquake through the eyes of women, but as a member of the UN World Food Programme’s communications division, I wanted to set the record straight on one particular point. You refer to WFP guidelines recommending that food aid is channelled exclusively to women. There are no such guidelines and we did not use this policy in Haiti. Years of experience of providing food assistance in emergency and development contexts has, however, shown that channelling food through women is the best way to ensure that the women, children and men of a household get to eat the food intended for them. This is why we introduced a coupon system where only women were invited to collect food rations for their families. As you rightly say, this helped establish order and ensure fairness. But we made sure vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly and the handicapped were provided for – many of them men. The general emergency distributions are now being phased out, and with them, the coupon system.
Regarding the suggestion that sexual favours are being demanded in exchange for ration cards, WFP is aware of the risk of this happening. We take very seriously any and all allegations of such activity by our own staff or by any of our cooperating partners. We follow up on all such allegations and we enforce a zero tolerance policy concerning sexual exploitation.”