Food aid has been a key to global agricultural development and trade policy since the end of World War II. Food aid creates agricultural development and income growth in poor nations, and thus creates future markets for donor countries, according to Christopher Barrett. However, food aid may be inflationary because it increases demand and costs for nonfood items in the recipient countries.
The World Food Programme (WFP), the food-assistance agency of the United Nations, was established in 1963 to fight global hunger. WFP has many partners, including the Food Aid for Development (FAD) Office of the World Health Organization. The goal of this combined effort is to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious foods at all times.
Since its inception, WFP has invested $27.8 billion and more than 43 million metric tons of food to combat hunger, promote economic and social development, and provide relief assistance in emergencies to eighty-three countries. In 2000, WFP fed 83 million people. WFP has three main programs:
- Food-for-Life. Eighty percent of WFP resources are used by this program for emergency relief activities for refugees and displaced individuals.
- Food-for-Growth. Projects in this program aim to prevent nutritional problems among pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants, school children, and the elderly. Literacy and nutrition classes are also offered.
- Food-for-Work. Chronically hungry individuals are paid with food through the Food-for-Work program. Workers assist with projects to improve local infrastructure, such as building roads and ports, repairing
The Food-for-Work program offers food to hungry people in exchange for work they do to improve vital infrastructure. Here, Somalis gather around water tanks, which were built to stabilize the water supply for drinking and irrigation in the drought-afflicted country.
[© Kevin Fleming/Corbis. Reproduced by permission.]
dykes, terracing hillsides, replanting forests, and repairing irrigation systems.
Delores C. S. James
Barrett, Christopher B. (1998). "Food Aid: Is It Development Assistance, Trade Promotion, Both, or Neither?" American Journal of Agricultural Economics 80(3):566–582.
World Health Organization. "Food Aid for Development." Available from <http://www.who.int>
World Food Programme. "Fighting the Global War on Hunger from the Frontline." Available from <http://www.wfp.org>