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Improving the Efficiency of Food Aid

Summary of report

Prepared with financial support from DANIDA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark.

DANIDA recently financed a study to analyse the impact of an earlier desk study carried out in 1991 on the management and cost-effectiveness of Denmark's contribution to WFP. One of the findings of the 1991 desk-review was that a change in the composition of the Danish food basket provided to WFP would greatly improve the impact of the contribution on the poor and their food security. The Danish food basket in the 1980s and early 1990s contained canned meat, processed cheese and peas. The earlier study showed that a food basket of basic commodities such as peas, maize and soy flour would be able to feed many more people. Following consultation with WFP the Danish government supported a gradual change in the food basket from animal commodities towards more basic, cost-effective commodities. However, the contribution was to continue to comprise of two thirds commodities procured in Denmark and one-third cash.

The 1991 study recommendations to change the food basket and the resulting new food aid policy were met with strong opposition between 1992-5 from the Agricultural Council of Denmark, the Federation of Meat Producers and Slaughterhouses and the Danish Dairy Council. Among their arguments was the idea that WFP need protein-rich animal products for the food basket and that Danish commercial interests should also be taken into account in food aid policy. However, the Danish government held steadfast in its new policy direction.

The recent DANIDA study has shown that six times more people were fed with Danish food aid in 1997 than in 1990 largely as a result of this policy change and that three times more protein was provided at unchanged total cost.

One concern voiced by opponents of the change was the expected negative effect on income earning and employment in Danish agriculture. However, the 1998 study asserts that since Danish agriculture continues to be the sole source of food for Danish food aid, the sector did not lose revenue - although some sub-sectors have lost while others have gained. The main conclusion of the study is that the Danish government has achieved a six-fold increase in the impact of Danish food aid to WFP from 1990-1997 even though the real value of the regular contribution has decreased slightly over the period. The information that contributed to bringing about this dramatic improvement came from a desk study which cost the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs $16,000.

Ref:A Six-Fold Increase in the Impact of Food Aid: Denmark's Contribution to the World Food Programme: Bjorg Colding and Per- Pinstrup Andersen (April 1998). p.pinstrup-andersen@cgnet.com

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Reference this page

Improving the Efficiency of Food Aid. Field Exchange 6, February 1999. p7. www.ennonline.net/fex/6/improving