Politics of Food Aid

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POLITICS OF FOOD AID Food aid is about providing food and related assistance to tackle hunger, either in emergency situations, or to help with deeper, longer term hunger alleviation and achieve food security (where people do not have to live in hunger or in fear of starvation). Food aid constituted over 20% of global aid flows in the 1960s, but is now less than 5%. Yet, it is still important because of the prevalence of world hunger and the increase in food emergencies in the past decade. Food aid started off in the 1950s and the US together with Canada accounted for over 90% of global food aid until the 1970s when the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) became a major player. International food aid is largely driven by donors and international institutions (typically influenced by the interests of the donors). In 1967, the Food Aid Convention (FAC) provided a set of policies for the donor countries, and is monitored by the Consultative Sub-Committee on Surplus Disposal (CSSD). The CSSD’s primary purpose is to ensure that food aid does not affect commercial imports and local production in recipient countries. In effect, the CSSD ensures that food aid does not displace trade. And so it is criticized for serving the interests of donors, because when accepting food aid, “recipients commit to pay for imports of commercial food along with food aid The CSSD is based in Washington D.C. rather than at the FAO Headquarters in Rome. Its location, its name and its focus on surplus disposal clearly reflect the concerns of competing food exporting countries around the use of food aid in an open economy rather than on hunger in recipient countries. Its main function is to avoid the displacement of commercial imports by food aid and it does not constitute an instrument favoring an adequate use of food aid to fight hunger. FAC’s commercial interests are exemplified by
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