Hindsight is 2020

Look back on what the WFP Innovation Accelerator accomplished in 2019 👓

WFP Innovation Accelerator
5 min readDec 19, 2019


Dear friends,

The World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator was launched four years ago, building on WFP’s strong history of embracing innovation and technology to achieve Zero Hunger.

From deploying email over radio, to using parachute airdrops to deliver food in conflict zones, to pioneering the use of cash-based transfers, WFP has always innovated to find new ways to reach and serve vulnerable people around the world.

And today, the WFP Innovation Accelerator is sourcing, supporting, and scaling innovations to help WFP fulfill our ambitious mission more effectively and efficiently.

Here is some of what we accomplished together in 2019.

This year, the WFP Innovation Accelerator sourced and supported 13 new innovations to disrupt hunger, growing our portfolio to more than 60 projects, spanning 33 countries.

New projects included PLUS, a user-friendly planning tool to optimize school feeding menus; NINAYO, a digital e-commerce platform empowering smallholder farmers in East Africa; and the Sanku Dosifier, a machine that enables millers to fortify flour with a precise dose of micro nutrients, named one of TIME’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019.

Eight projects are scaling up to achieve significant impact with the support of our new Scale Up Enablement Programme. For example, H2Grow, WFP’s hydroponics project, scaled up this year to seven countries, helping more than 10,000 people to grow their own food and fodder with no soil and 90 percent less water than traditional agriculture.

Through H2Grow, Nihaya Hussein, a widow and mother of three living in the remote and dry town of Azraq, Jordan, learned how to use hydroponics to grow fresh and healthy fodder, while earning an income to support her family.

“From this small hydroponic unit, I am able to support and feed my livestock. My dream is to expand my project to help myself and my family even more.”

WFP’s 83 country offices are our innovation labs, identifying challenges, testing solutions, and implementing innovations to end hunger.

In 2019, more and more WFP country offices formally integrated innovation into their multi-year strategic plans. The WFP Innovation Accelerator team went on 17 field missions to 15 countries, supporting our colleagues in Congo, Jordan, Niger and Sierra Leone to better position innovation within their operations.

The Tanzania country office hosts WFP’s first field innovation hub, leveraging and supporting the local innovation ecosystem. This year, in collaboration with the WFP Innovation Accelerator, the innovation hub delivered the first-ever WFP innovation bootcamp in Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, providing innovators with new types of mentorship and support.

WFP has long provided services to the wider humanitarian community, supporting partners with logistics, engineering, digital identity management, cash-based transfers and emergency telecommunications.

In 2019, the WFP Innovation Accelerator built on that history to provide innovation services to external partners for the first time, driving progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We worked with partners like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on vaccine delivery, UNFPA on family planning, and Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge on humanitarian innovation in conflict zones.

We also partnered with the UN Innovation Network to host the first-ever inter-agency innovation bootcamp, bringing together innovators from 11 different UN entities to develop and refine their ideas on how to achieve the SDGs. At the bootcamp, the WFP Innovation Accelerator and UNICEF Innovation began developing The Atrium — an inter-agency collaboration platform to test out ideas for blockchain-based applications that deliver impact for the people we serve.

Thank you to our funders and partners.

Thank you to our core donors, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the German Federal Foreign Office, and the State of Bavaria for your dedicated leadership and support. Thank you to our partners from USAID, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Australia for your trust in us and your boldness for investing in innovation.

Finally, thank you to our incredible Innovation Accelerator team, to my colleagues within WFP, and to our global network of innovators and supporters. Together, we can accelerate innovation to achieve Zero Hunger!

Best wishes,

Bernhard Kowatsch
Head of the Innovation Accelerator
United Nations World Food Programme


The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies and non-governmental organizations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support and WFP operations.

Find out more about us: http://innovation.wfp.org

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WFP Innovation Accelerator

Sourcing, supporting and scaling high-impact innovations to disrupt hunger.