Global Food Aid Programs Must Prioritize Food Sovereignty in Developing Nations
Oakland, CA – In a dramatic departure from prevailing thought about international food aid programs, The Oakland Institute’s new report, Food Aid or Food Sovereignty?, Ending World Hunger in Our Time, recommends food sovereignty as the policy tool to achieve food self-sufficiency. The report offers a new perspective on the eradication of hunger that will inform the current debate about food aid programs at the World Trade Organization, and international debate around the best method to remedy famine in Niger.
“It is shameful that foreign policy and trade motives drive current food aid programs at the expense of those in developing countries,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute. “Examples from situations of extreme hunger around the world have proven that policies that emphasize helping affected countries develop their own agricultural sectors actually help feed more people and decrease developing countries’ dependence on aid programs in the long run.” Released the week of World Food Day, Food Aid or Food Sovereignty? advocates that food aid programs shift their focus from dumping agricultural products on developing countries to helping build local agricultural infrastructure and supporting small-scale farmers.
“Despite the pledge of heads of state at the 1996 World Food Summit to reduce the number of chronically undernourished people by half by the year 2015, the fight against hunger and malnutrition has yet to show any gains,” said Frederic Mousseau, main author of the report and Oakland Institute’s Senior Fellow who has worked with Doctors without Borders and Action Against Hunger in African, Eastern European, and Asian food crisis situations. “Given what we know about fighting world hunger, food sovereignty is paramount, and must be at the heart of future policies to support and protect small-scale farmers and subsistence agriculture.”
Food Aid or Food Sovereignty? analyzes the current food aid system and reveals that other than in emergency situations, international assistance often adversely affects agriculture in developing countries. On the basis of this analysis, the report proposes specific steps to successfully lower the number of chronically hungry people in the world. Recommendations made by the report include: (1) support for small farmers through strong agricultural policies including land redistribution; (2) support for the production of staple food rather than cash crops; (3) protection of prices and markets; and (4) the management of national food stocks.
Chronic day-in and day-out hunger affects an estimated 852 million people worldwide. Each year hunger kills as many as 30 to 50 million people, more than three times the number who died annually during World War II. Its victims include the approximately 6.5 million children who die from hunger and its related causes each year—one every five seconds.
The Oakland Institute is a research and educational institute whose mission is to bring dynamic new voices into policy debates to promote public participation and fair debate on critical economic and social policy issues. Food Aid or Food Sovereignty? Ending World Hunger in Our Time is the first publication of the Oakland Institute’s Aid Watch, a research center, information clearinghouse, and early warning system for activists, educators, journalists and the general public on international aid operations.