August 6, 2013


How should the US deliver food aid? (David Loyn, 8/06/13, BBC)

Other countries prefer to give cash or vouchers. Innovative schemes are bringing the most advanced technology to cope with the needs of hungry people.

The Care relief agency, for example, has a database of people in potential need in remote places such as the semi-arid lands of northern Kenya.

Vulnerable people have plastic cards like credit cards, which they can use at a time of need.

Ezekiel Lentorer, from Care, said this means they can remain where they are for longer at times of drought, not losing their animals or livelihoods.

He said: "I prefer cash every time, much better than food aid...With food aid, you give me maize only, at the end of the day I have no salt, no oil. And [with cash] all of the aid gets to the recipient, rather than being lost on the way."

Elsewhere in Kenya the World Food Programme (WFP) is pioneering a scheme to improve crops and the marketing skills of farmers, encouraging them to form co-operatives to give them more bargaining power.

The WFP guarantees to buy some of the produce to give to hungry people elsewhere, so the programme has a double benefit.

She said her agricultural productivity had improved and her income had increased.

But the US remains limited by law as to how much it can put into these sorts of schemes. A leading expert on food security, Chris Barrett of Cornell University, says it has lost the economic argument.

"In terms of the policy merits, this is a settled issue. The resistance turns on the political economy. In particular a coalition of large agribusinesses that benefit from present arrangements," he said.

This is not a partisan issue.

President George Bush's aid officials succeeded in a very modest reform, increasing flexibility.

Posted by at August 6, 2013 5:21 AM

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