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Press Release: A New Report on Food Aid Programs: Famine in Niger Reinforces the Need for Drastic Changes in Food Aid

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Press Release

For Immediate Release: October 26, 2005

Contacts: Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, (510) 469-5228; [email protected]

Megan Garcia, Communications Director, (617) 501-2888; [email protected]


Famine in Niger Reinforces the Need for Drastic Changes in Food Aid

Oakland, CA October 26, 2005 — In light of the current famine in Niger, the Oakland Institute’s new report, Food Aid or Food Sovereignty? Ending World Hunger in Our Time, calls for drastic changes in the international food aid system to make it more effective at preventing large-scale hunger emergencies and recommends food sovereignty as the policy tool to achieve food self-sufficiency.

In a dramatic departure from prevailing thought about international food aid programs, the report advocates that such programs shift their focus from dumping products on developing countries to helping build local agricultural infrastructure and supporting small-scale farmers. “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 famine situations around the world show that policies that emphasize helping countries develop their own agriculture actually feed more people and decrease developing countries’ dependence on aid programs in the long run.”

“World hunger is not caused by a shortage of food production in the developing world," says Frederic Mousseau, Oakland Institute’s Senior Fellow. “Most countries that experience the type of famine that we now see in Niger export a large portion of their agricultural produce. This phenomenon in Niger has compounded the food deficit, causing high inflation and widespread hunger. Famine in Niger is a result of poverty among certain sections of the population who are unable to cope with price increases brought on by market deregulation and speculation.” Today food aid is being distributed to those who are too poor to buy food in the open market in Niger.

Food Aid or Food Sovereignty? evaluates current food aid programs, their response to food crisis situations, and the role that international relief agencies play in the fight against hunger. On the basis of this analysis, the report proposes specific steps to drastically change the current food aid system to combat world hunger more effectively. These 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

4) Better management of national food stocks

Chronic hunger affects an estimated 852 million people worldwide, killing as many as 30 to 50 million people each year. The victims of starvation 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 policy think tank whose mission is to promote fair debate and increase public participation by bringing dynamic new voices into policy debates on critical economic and social 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, policy makers, journalists and the public on international aid operations.


To obtain a copy of the report, click here

To purchase a printed copy of the report, click here

To read a column on food aid distributed internationally by the IPS click here

Read the U.S. proposal on disciplining food aid in the WTO

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