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Supporting the World Food Programme to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse

Itad is evaluating the World Food Programme’s work to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse throughout the organisation and its operations.


The World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity, for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change. It is the lead UN agency that responds to food emergencies and has programmes to combat hunger worldwide.

Protection from sexual exploitation and abuse (PSEA) is a priority for WFP. It has been a UN-wide focus for many years, notably highlighted as a UN priority in 2003, through the publication of the Secretary-General’s Bulletin (2003). Since 2006, the Secretary-General has been explicit about its zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. However, in 2018 the issue garnered widespread public attention when allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse occurring within the aid sector made headlines worldwide. Most pertinently, slow or inadequate responses from humanitarian organisations were uncovered. This catalysed many organisations in the international development and humanitarian sectors to step up their focus on addressing inadequacies in their current strategies and mechanisms to protect people from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Historically, WFP has been engaged in preventing sexual exploitation and abuse. Building on this, PSEA is mentioned as an explicit priority in the WFP Strategic Plan (2022-25) which commits to integrating PSEA measures “into WFP operations and programming in order to safeguard beneficiaries and ensure that they can safely access WFP’s programmes without being subject to sexual exploitation or sexual abuse by WFP employees or partners”.

Our evaluation comes at an opportune moment to assess the progress that WFP has made to date through recent policy, guidance, and practice, and to inform the strategic direction of WFP in PSEA going forward.

Our role

The overall scope of our evaluation will be to assess the relevance, effectiveness and coherence of WFP’s work towards PSEA in terms of:

  • safe and accessible reporting
  • quality assistance for survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse
  • enhanced accountability

We will assess the organisational enabling environment that supports and constrains PSEA across WFP’s operations.

Our methods & approaches

Our evaluation is grounded in a set of complementary approaches, interrelated modules, mixed data collection methods and sources which emphasize a learning agenda throughout, to identify whether WFP is ‘doing the right things’ to support PSEA.

Recognising WFP’s prevention and response efforts as a system, we are using a systems-based approach analysis to adequately acknowledge the interconnectedness and complexity of the systems in which programs or interventions operate. This view requires a recognition that that systems are complex and nonlinear, with emergent properties and unpredictable dynamics.

Three core principles underpin our evaluation:

  • maintaining a ‘do no harm’ approach
  • mainstreaming a gender and equity-responsive lens throughout our methodology and engagements
  • ensuring broad and meaningful participation that underpins utilization-focused findings and recommendations.

Outcomes & impact

The evaluation will identify opportunities for learning and knowledge sharing throughout the evaluation process to help strengthen WFP and its partners’ policies and procedures in relation to PSEA.