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The Future of Food Aid

Development food aid in the 1990s has proven relatively ineffective as a way of combating poverty and increasing food consumption according to a new study. Authors of the ODI report 'The Future of Food Aid - a Policy Review' argue that financial aid is in most cases more efficient than food aid as an instrument for funding food assistance activities like school meals or food for work or in providing balance of payment or budgetary support for general development. Programme food aid which is provided to governments for sale has been found to be a particularly ineffective and blunt instrument for these purposes. At the same time the study recognises that food aid can sometimes be useful in a very limited way as targeted assistance to poor, highly food insecure people in situations of poorly functioning fragile markets and serious institutional weakness.
Speaking in London in June, co-author Edward Clay, defended the use of food aid in real emergencies like the current crisis in Southern Sudan. But he also pointed out that while relief food aid plays a clear and crucial role in saving lives and limiting nutritional stress in crisis caused by conflict and natural disaster, there is a lot of scope for better practice and improved performance in emergency feeding interventions.

The following are among the study recommendations:

For further information contact: ODI Publications, Portland House, Stag Place, London SW1E 5DP
e-mail: e.fowke@odi.org.uk
Internet: http://www.oneworld.org/odi/

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The Future of Food Aid. Field Exchange 5, October 1998. p13. www.ennonline.net/fex/5/future

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