Report Challenges Thinking on Food Assistance to Hungry

Food distribution need to be partnered with specific programs to aid world hunger.

Brussels, BELGIUM (October 16, 2014) — A new report to be presented on World Food Day challenges conventional thinking on food assistance — it’s not just about distributing food packages — and gives new ideas to feed the hundreds of millions of children who go to bed hungry each night.

The report, Telling Our Stories: Leveraging food assistance for a hunger-free world (PDF), published by the humanitarian organization World Vision, suggests that while food assistance plays a critical life-saving role in emergencies, it’s not a long-term solution to achieving a hunger-free world.

“To achieve a long-term solution, food distributions need to be coupled with programs that ensure the hungry are equipped to meet their own food needs long-term,” says Thabani Maphosa, World Vision’s chief of food assistance programs. “For example, at World Vision, 30 percent of our food assistance programs incorporate resilience-building elements, to address the root causes of hunger.”

Presented at a World Food Day event at the European Parliament in Brussels, the report documents examples in food-insecure countries such as Uganda, Niger and Myanmar, of hungry people receiving food or cash to meet their immediate needs and in return working on community projects that could end their reliance on food assistance in the future.

World Vision is one of the world’s largest deliverers of food assistance and its projects include the planting of drought-resistant trees to improve soil quality and improve water retention, the construction of water-harvesting structures, the rehabilitation of degraded land, the creation of water channels for irrigation, and building structures to support advanced gardening techniques.

Among beneficiaries featured in the Telling our Stories report is Masemakaleng Kabane, 59, a HIV-positive grandmother from Lesotho responsible for the care of seven children. While receiving food assistance to take care of her family’s immediate needs, she was supported to construct a “keyhole” garden—where vegetables are grown on a raised bed made of recycled materials. The technology allows labor-constrained households to grow nutritious food even with poor soil and moisture conditions. Today, Masemakaleng produces vegetables all year round, sells surpluses to neighbors, and teaches them how to manage their own gardens.

 

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