WFP Innovation Awards 2022

Recognizing the World Food Programme’s top 5 innovative solutions for disrupting hunger.

WFP Innovation Accelerator
7 min readJun 9, 2022

By Heath Morrell

WFP Executive Director, David Beasley, congratulates one of the award winners. Photo: WFP/Rein Skullerud.

The World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Awards were instituted to celebrate and honor outstanding innovations from over 120 countries and territories in which WFP works.

Submissions for the Awards were reviewed by the WFP Innovation Advisory Group, with the five winners for 2022 announced today at WFP’s annual Global Management Meeting (GMM) in Munich, home of WFP’s Innovation Accelerator.

Through the Innovation Accelerator, WFP is leveraging unprecedented advances in digital innovation — such as mobile technology, artificial intelligence, big data, and blockchain — as well as new business models to transform the way WFP serves communities facing hunger across the world.

The Innovation Awards recognize the most innovative solutions, as well as those that are contributing strongly to WFP’s overall goal of achieving Zero Hunger by 2030.

Watch and learn more about the winners of the 2022 WFP Innovation Awards.

And the winners are…


Supply Chain, Technology and Nutrition Divisions. WFP’s Country Offices in Syria, Iraq, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

Zebiba Ayenew, Nutrition Programme Analyst, running Optimus scenarios in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: WFP/Suhera Bedri.

One of WFP’s key challenges globally is identifying efficient and effective ways to serve people that require assistance. Optimus is an innovative optimization tool that puts advanced analytics at the center of WFP’s decision-making processes. Via this online decision support system, WFP staff on the ground can quickly explore and compare different operational plans, allowing them to rapidly identify the most cost-effective ways to assist people in need.

Incorporating a wide variety of data, including beneficiary numbers, sourcing options, transport routes, and nutritional values, WFP staff can use Optimus to create their own scenarios or ask it to find optimal plans that take into account operational restrictions and preferences, including lead times, funding, nutritional value targets, and local procurement targets. The user-friendly interface allows users from any functional area to explore and compare various scenarios. Datasets are analyzed using mathematical models, providing key insights into food basket design, sourcing strategies, and delivery networks for any WFP operation.

Optimus has been used in over 20 country offices (across 44 operations, and all Level 3 emergencies), including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Ukraine, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, resulting in USD 50 million of savings to date. In 2022, the number of country offices using the tool is expected to double as WFP operational requirements are reevaluated amidst the considerable disruption to major commodity markets resulting from the war in Ukraine. As the gap between WFP’s funds and the level of food assistance required rises every day, optimizing WFP’s response will be critical in ensuring no one is left behind. Learn more.


WFP’s Pakistan Country Office.

A WFP business support assistant conducts a daily field monitoring visit to a Chakki location in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Photo: WFP/Saqib Adnan.

Chakki’s novel approach includes improving access to, and the consumption of fortified wheat flour for up to 70 percent of Pakistan’s population.

To enable this, small-scale millers (known as chakkis) are provided with skills, education, funding mechanisms, and innovative technology to both fortify flour, and in turn, educate their clients. By simultaneously adding nutrients to the flour people consume, as well as teaching them more about general nutrition, the aim is to tackle the issue of malnutrition in Pakistan holistically. This is especially important for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and adolescents.

Another key element of the Chakki project lies in its ability to strike a balance between demand and supply, by generating both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) linkages in the market, while also contributing to commercially sustainable flour fortification.

To date, over 1 million people have been reached via this solution. In 50 small-scale mills implementing the Chakki approach, the amount of fortified wheat flour milled and sold increased from 20 percent to 89 percent.

Learn more about flour fortification at chakkis in Pakistan.

Self-registration enabling rapid and remote cash assistance

Cash-Based Transfers, Technology, Finance, Programme — Humanitarian and Development Divisions. WFP’s Country Offices in Ukraine and Moldova.

In a suburb of Moldova’s capital, Chisinau, Moldovan citizens register with WFP to receive cash assistance. Photo: WFP/Edward Johnson.

Influenced by the ongoing war in Ukraine, teams across WFP — specifically those in Ukraine and Moldova — developed an innovative self-registration tool to put people at the heart of cash programming.

This rapidly scalable self-registration solution is a powerful tool that allows people to be identified and registered in a safe and reliable way. It accurately logs the number of people in need of assistance and their eligibility, while maintaining the integrity of data in the system.

The safe and secure tool has a back-end system that incorporates multiple corporate data, payment, and communication systems. Its interoperability means that people in challenging locations can receive their cash within 48 hours, compared to the usual four weeks.

So far, over 800,000 people in Ukraine and Moldova have self-registered via their smartphones and received cash in their hands. In total, USD 58 million has been transferred since the tool was launched on 1 April 2022.

Learn more about WFP’s response in Ukraine.

GrainATM — ‘Annapurti’

WFP’s India Country Office.

Left: GrainATM users in Haryana, India where an ‘Annapurti’ has been installed. Photo: WFP/Shyamalima Kalita. Right: A woman receives her grain entitlement from the GrainATM. Photo: WFP/Ankit Sood.

The GrainATM, also known as ‘Annapurti’ (Hindi for “fulfiller of food”) appears simple in conception, however this clever innovation provides people with fast and hygienic access to accurate portions of a range of commodities, such as rice, wheat and grains.

As an automated commodity dispensing machine, GrainATM incorporates biometric authentication to verify users before dispensing their chosen commodity. This ensures 24/7 accessibility as well as making sure people receive 100 percent of their allocated entitlements.

An adaptable, modular, and robust solution, ‘Annapurti’ has the potential to be used for food grain distribution during emergencies, increasing access to markets for smallholder farmers and food-based safety nets. For example, it can facilitate easy access to monthly subsidized grains available via India’s Public Distribution System (the world’s largest food-based safety net covering over 800 million people).

The aim for GrainATM is to reach over 300,000 people by the end of 2022. Learn more.


Finance, Cash-Based Transfers and Technology Divisions. WFP’s Country Offices in Zambia and Haiti.

Refugees receiving cash payments at Mantapala Refugee Settlement, Zambia. Photo: WFP/Paul Mboshya Jr.

As cash-based transfers (CBTs) now account for around 40 percent of WFP’s assistance portfolio, there is a growing demand for new and innovative digital solutions that improve the ways in which CBTs are delivered. One major challenge faced by CBT operations is the long lead time experienced when WFP country offices establish contracts with Financial Service Providers (FSP) they partner with (9 months on average). Therefore, it is common for low numbers of FSPs to be selected, preventing many people from choosing the provider from which they wish to receive their WFP assistance.

plugPAY is a digital payment solution that allows people to rapidly receive WFP’s cash assistance. By using a human-centered approach, plugPAY incorporates direct transfers from WFP accounts so people can receive payments via their instrument of choice, directly into their own accounts.

The ‘one-stop-shop’ approach employed by plugPAY uses standardized terms, procedures, and protocols, while also supporting governments in their transition towards interoperable and inclusive financial services ecosystems.

So far, 17,000 people have been reached with plugPAY. Financial Service Provider costs have been reduced to 0.12 percent, while onboarding time for users was reduced by 90 percent.

Going forward, plugPAY is upgrading its platform, aiming to scale up to at least two new WFP country offices, while reaching 100,000 people by the end of 2022. Learn more.

We would like to congratulate all the winners of the 2022 WFP Innovation Awards, and we look forward to reporting on the progress of these projects in the coming year. The ideas and solutions displayed by the winners clearly illustrate both the many ways in which technology and innovation can impact people’s lives and how they are incorporated by WFP in its work towards Zero Hunger.

To learn more about the WFP Innovation Awards and to keep in touch with news from the WFP Innovation Accelerator, please follow @WFPInnovation or any of our social channels noted below. If you have your own idea to help disrupt hunger, please visit our website for more information and to submit an application.

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.

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WFP Innovation Accelerator

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