THE ROOT CAUSES OF HUNGER AND HOW FOOD AID WORKS IN ZAMBIA

THE ROOT CAUSES OF HUNGER AND HOW FOOD AID WORKS IN ZAMBIA

A paper presented at the Conference on HUNGER, FOOD AID AND GMOs, Maputo, Mozambique, 15-16 July 2004 by:

Drinah Banda Nyirenda, B.Sc. Agricultural Sciences, M.Sc. Animal Science, PhD. Nutrition

Executive Director of Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM), an Umbrella Zambian National Non Governmental Organization mandated to develop and build capacity, maintain and coordinate a network of local NGOs and Community Based Organisations (CBO) to mitigate in disaster times and implement recovery programmes throughout the country. Currently PAM implements food security programmes through a network of over 120 community based NGOs and CBOs that provide support to vulnerable small-scale farmers throughout Zambia for improving food and nutrition security and income generation.

Address: 178 Parirenyatwa Rd, Fairview,
PO BOX 30599, Lusaka, Zambia. E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]

ABSTRACT

The root causes of hunger are varied and complex. In Zambia where over 70% of the population is poor and 58% are classified as extremely poor hunger and food insecurity have reached unprecedented levels. Hunger is intimately intertwined with poverty. The poor are vulnerable to deprivation of the most basic human rights; food, shelter, education and health. Hunger is caused by poverty, ignorance, calamity and disease. Poverty is caused by a complex of both manmade and natural calamities; poor and lack of production and marketing policies and priorities in development investments, non or poor implementation of positive and sustainable technology results, poor governance and poor or lack of political will to develop and implement pro-poor policies, gender inequalities in access to productive assets, erosion in asset base due to prolonged poverty and disease, the huge and unsustainable external debt burden and an unresponsive international community. As a consequence of hunger and food and nutrition insecurity, 48% of Zambia’s underfive children are stunted, 25% are under weight, 6% are severely malnourished. Zambia ranks 163rd of the 174 nations and is one of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) with a debt stock of U.S $7 billion despite having paid over U.S $11 billion in debt service fees over the past three decades!

In situations where food insecurity is a common phenomenon any flood or drought will drive the majority of the poor into crisis and destitution. The drought of 2001-2002 season, created a massive food deficit that threatened over 2.3 million rural agriculture dependent households. In response the government of Zambia issued an appeal to the International Community requesting for food aid. In a food crisis there are several levels of response in Zambia that include government procurements, international and local donors, family, communities and friends. In the 2002 food crisis the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) put out a Consolidated appeal to the international community for donations. Most bilateral donors preferred to put their donations through the WFP basket, some donors provided resources to their own National Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to procure, deliver and distribute the food up to community level. The Zambian Government also procured and either distributed its food aid through its political wings or the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) which sub-contracted NGOs to distribute. There is no clear government policy on food aid targeting and distribution or accountability. An attempt had been made in the food crisis of 1992 when Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM) was created to coordinate the distribution of relief food and recory programmes, PAM was created for coordinating both the targeting and distribution. However, both government and WFP preferred to coordinate the procurement and distribution themselves. The lack of policy lead to inconsistency in the food pipeline and even after the emergency situation had ended food aid continues to be distributed instead of local food redistribution.
THE ROOT CAUSES OF HUNGER AND HOW FOOD AID WORKS IN ZAMBIA

ABSTRACT

The root causes of hunger are varied and complex. In Zambia where over 70% of the population is poor and 58% are classified as extremely poor hunger and food insecurity have reached unprecedented levels. Hunger is intimately intertwined with poverty. The poor are vulnerable to deprivation of the most basic human rights; food, shelter, education and health. Hunger is caused by poverty, ignorance, calamity and disease. Poverty is caused by a complex of both manmade and natural calamities; poor and lack of production and marketing policies and priorities in development investments, non or poor implementation of positive and sustainable technology results, poor governance and poor or lack of political will to develop and implement pro-poor policies, gender inequalities in access to productive assets, erosion in asset base due to prolonged poverty and disease, the huge and unsustainable external debt burden and an unresponsive international community. As a consequence of hunger and food and nutrition insecurity, 48% of Zambia’s underfive children are stunted, 25% are under weight, 6% are severely malnourished. Zambia ranks 163rd of the 174 nations and is one of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) with a debt stock of U.S $7 billion despite having paid over U.S $11 billion in debt service fees over the past three decades!

In situations where food insecurity is a common phenomenon any flood or drought will drive the majority of the poor into crisis and destitution. The drought of 2001-2002 season, created a massive food deficit that threatened over 2.3 million rural agriculture dependent households. In response the government of Zambia issued an appeal to the International Community requesting for food aid. In a food crisis there are several levels of response in Zambia that include government procurements, international and local donors, family, communities and friends. In the 2002 food crisis the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) put out a Consolidated appeal to the international community for donations. Most bilateral donors preferred to put their donations through the WFP basket, some donors provided resources to their own National Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to procure, deliver and distribute the food up to community level. The Zambian Government also procured and either distributed its food aid through its political wings or the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) which sub-contracted NGOs to distribute. There is no clear government policy on food aid targeting and distribution or accountability. An attempt had been made in the food crisis of 1992 when Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM) was created to coordinate the distribution of relief food and recory programmes, PAM was created for coordinating both the targeting and distribution. However, both government and WFP preferred to coordinate the procurement and distribution themselves. The lack of policy lead to inconsistency in the food pipeline and even after the emergency situation had ended food aid continues to be distributed instead of local food redistribution.