Food aid in emergencies: a case for wheat?
Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
fax +44 (0)131 317 3528, email J. Landman@mail.qmced.ac.uk As disasters and conflict increase, a higher proportion of total food aid is given as humanitarian aid. Most food aid is in the form of cereals, primarily wheat. The main donors are the USA and the EU, but there is an increase in the numbers of donors, including non-governmental organizations, buying food rather than using surpluses. Alongside the greater diversity and complexity of food aid, there is more controversy about policy and
... about policy and practice. If disasters are development failures, emergency food aid must be a step in the continuum from relief to rehabilitation. Comparisons of the seventeen countries that were major recipients of food aid (> 10 000 t) in 1997, show diversity in social development, dietary pattern, number of refugees, relative food inadequacy and wasting (i.e. % standard weight-for-height > 2 SD). In the absence of information of consistent quality, what influences the scale of emergency aid is unclear and susceptible to politicization, so that need and supply may not be matched. Local considerations seem to be as important as external food aid for the nutrition of the recipients. Challenges for the future include assuring the nutritional quality of rations to solve deficiency problems. The implications for the professional public health nutritionist working on emergency food provision include continuing professional development to enhance the technical expertise necessary to design appropriate feeds or rations. These public health nutritionists, more than others, require a grounding in social science theories that underpin management, ethics of professionalism and the politics of food aid. Emergency food aid: Public health nutrition Background