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Food aid and food assistance in emergency and transitional contexts - A review of current thinking

Research reports

Written by Paul Harvey, Ed Clay

Research reports

Global food insecurity has worsened in recent years as a result of the food price spike followed by the financial and economic crisis. Patterns of food insecurity are changing too because of more extreme natural disasters, the persistence of conflict in some countries and annual large scale emergencies.  Many countries are suffering protracted food emergencies.  At the same time the nature of the international response has changed. Most donors have shifted from providing in-kind food aid to funding local and regional procurement, and cash transfers have increased too as part of a broad shift from food aid to “food assistance”. Beyond a grand commitment to doing more about food security, the Aquila Declaration, there is no agreement on specifics – such as a definition of what food assistance is, or the nature of a new food security architecture, and what should replace the Food Aid Convention due to expire in 2011.

This report presents the findings of a review of changes in food aid and food assistance policies and strategies within the international aid system. It was carried out between January and May 2010 for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The study provides an overview of key current issues in donor government and aid agency policies and programming practices regarding food assistance.

Paul Harvey, Karen Proudlock, Edward Clay, Barry Riley and Susanne Jaspars