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
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:
- WFP should concentrate its operations and work on emergency and relief logistics. This would require a redefined role with appropriate resources and professional capacity to become the UN's humanitarian and rehabilitation logistics and food support agency.
- The UK and other EC member states might be released from obligations to provide bilateral food aid as part of the EU's contribution under the Food Aid Convention but would instead accept responsibilities under a Code of Conduct for participating in responses to humanitarian crises and supporting WFP in its redefined role.
For further information
contact: ODI Publications, Portland
House, Stag Place, London SW1E
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Reference this page
The Future of Food Aid. Field Exchange 5, October 1998. p13. www.ennonline.net/fex/5/future