Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

Dublin Conference: Food Assistance Key

During the conference I’m attending in Malahide, Dublin, I’ve had a chance to talk with many participants about ways to tackle the global hunger crisis.

Yesterday I attended a small working group that was focused on the topic of food assistance. Our discussion included these top principles:

  • The right food must be a component of food assistance, especially for vulnerable populations—such as women and children up to age 2.
  • Food assistance must take into account cultural relevance and the role of the recipient community.
  • We must implement evidence-based models.
  • The role of the private sector must be considered.
  • How can we implement monitoring and evaluation into decision-making?
  • How can we become timelier in our response and not wait for a plea for help? Our discussion here focused on Niger.
  • The right to food is critical, but there must be political space at the national level to be open to it.
  • How do we hold donors and recipient countries accountable for food assistance, whether they are in-kind donations or cash?
  • How do we account for the interconnectedness of food assistance with all other issues being discussed?
  • We must have a flexible toolbox of options to get farmers back on their feet.

 

The discussions were incredibly thought-provoking. Imagine, for instance, if the United States had a law whereby food aid had to have a nutrition requirement? This completely turns our current food aid system on its head.

Can we begin to produce a competitor to Plumpy’nut? Should we? What does this mean for in-kind contributions? If we give priority to cash donations to local small-holder farmers, can their needs be met? How can we build in local farmers and their crops?

At the end of the day, the biggest theme that emerged from every working group was nutrition and how that issue can be amplified. Wonderful!

Now it's time for a Guinness.

Monica Mills is director of government relations for Bread for the World.

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