World Vision is an international Christian relief, development and advocacy organization working to promote the well being of all people — especially children. In 2004, World Vision partnered with 100 million people in 96 countries.
World Vision’s overarching policy position on food aid
Given the structural impediments to the promotion of food security (inadequate national policies, environmental degradation, unfair trade, unpayable debt, and insufficient investment), we believe that food aid in all its various forms (in-kind commodities, local purchase, cash, and monetization; see Frequently Asked Questions below) is an important tool to realize the fundamental right to freedom from hunger.
Specific World Vision policy positions relative to the doha trade talks
World Vision opposes a reduction in in-kind food aid by the international community unless accompanied by immediate and substantial additional resources in Overseas Development Assistance, debt cancellation and equitable trade practices. While the international community strives to address the root causes of poverty, food aid continues to be an important resource in all its various forms (local purchase, cash, commodities and monetization) to address chronic hunger. We call on Northern governments to:
- Reduce agricultural subsidies and allow free access for goods from the Least Developed Countries to Northern markets.
- Help build the capacity of developing countries to take advantage of this increased market access.
- Within the context of the Doha Development Round, give developing countries the flexibility they need to achieve their national food security strategies.
- Redirect a significant portion of the savings from the reduction in agricultural subsidies towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
World Vision calls on Southern governments to establish and implement national food security strategies and to address domestic structural impediments to their own food security.
World Vision calls for parties to the Food Aid Convention to meet or exceed existing obligations.
World Vision calls on donors to increase resources for assessment and impact evaluation in order to determine the contextually appropriate combination of the various forms of food aid.
World Vision calls for and is committed to increased investment in research to determine the impact of food aid on local communities, and on national and global economies.
World Vision’s global view of specific food aid issuesEnding hunger is inextricably linked to ending poverty:
Chronic poverty is a root cause of hunger, therefore it is necessary to aggressively implement policies to eliminate poverty completely; meanwhile, food aid in all its forms (including local purchase, cash, commodities and monetization) remains a key tool in addressing chronic hunger and food insecurity, which threatens 850 million people globally.
Without immediate action by both Northern and Southern governments, the first MDG — "eradicate extreme poverty and hunger" — has little chance of being achieved by 2015. The success of this goal depends on the reduction of Northern agricultural subsidies, design of pro-poor agricultural policies and national food security strategies, and promotion of sustainable, pro-poor economic growth. While nations find and implement these long-term solutions to poverty, our experience shows that although - in the long term - continuing to provide any specific community with food is not viable without a parallel commitment to transformational development, in the short term, food aid can be a vital tool in the progress of transformation when coupled with prudent programming to alleviate hunger and poverty. Food aid has a role in many development programs:
Food aid works in tandem with other programs to help eliminate poverty and lessen the impact of allied development targets.
Food aid is not restricted solely to reducing poverty but is one of many development tools used to achieve other development targets. For example, some food aid programs supply food to vulnerable groups living with HIV/AIDS and to children in school feeding programs supporting children and their families. To sustain these types of programs, a variety of options for providing food aid are needed to include in-kind commodities for targeted distribution as well as monetization and availability of cash for local purchase and program support.The World Trade Organization (WTO) is not the place to overhaul food aid:
Food aid, which is not a commercial program, is beyond the interest, scope and expertise of the WTO; the Doha negotiators should not attempt to define or to limit food aid.
Food aid is not a commercial program, rather, it is intended to assist developing countries that depend on agricultural imports, and to alleviate suffering resulting from emergencies or chronic hunger. Unfortunately, since food aid is part of the international flow of commodities, it has been included in the Doha agriculture trade negotiations. Consequently, as negotiators make trade-offs to derive a final agreement, they risk limiting food aid and its availability to help the hungry. Specifically, governments must not ratify certain misguided proposals set forth in the recent Doha negotiation sessions which would eliminate:
|>||bilateral agreements between donors and NGOs or recipient countries|
|>||“non-emergency” food aid (such as food-for-work, food for agricultural programs, mother-child health care, and food for education)|
|>||nearly all in-kind food aid|
Food aid transactions should be governed by a newly mandated Subcommittee on Surplus Disposal (CSSD) in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) whose mandate covers issues relating to food production and forecasting that are important in determining the appropriateness of in-kind food aid in food insecure contexts. The Food Aid Convention, which commits donor countries to making minimum annual contributions to the provision of food aid, is effectively positioned to oversee food aid transactions. Unlike the WTO, it is a body that understands food requirements and assessment of need.Food aid does not significantly distort trade:
While some proposals to limit food aid are extreme, the reality is that the ability of food aid to distort trade is minimal.
Significantly, food aid comprises just 2 percent of international agriculture trade, 78 percent of which constitutes food aid for emergencies. Moreover, nearly all food aid is provided to the least developed countries or to low-income food deficient countries. Thus, while commercial displacement by food aid is realistically very limited, there has been an unfortunate degree of focus on this issue rather than on meeting the legitimate needs of developing countries. This narrow focus is influenced by the WTO’s legitimate organizational focus on commercial trade and not on food aid and other forms of assistance, but more importantly by some countries’ pronouncement that they will eliminate export subsidies if there is “full parallelism” in other areas, including the elimination of so-called “trade-distorting” food aid. Significant support exists in the developing world:
The most deprived developing countries support continued bilateral food aid for emergency and chronic needs while being mindful of the danger of commodities being dumped on their fragile markets.
Developing countries among the 49 Least Developed Countries (most of which are net importers of all agriculture products), such as Bangladesh and Uganda, as well as the Net Food Importing Developing Countries, such as Honduras and Guatemala, support continued bilateral food aid for both emergency and chronic needs. They express the concern that too much emphasis is being placed in the WTO on potential negative impacts, and support this statement: “Food aid provided by members to meet emergency situations, and humanitarian and development objectives, and to address the chronic food deficit situation in LDCs shall be allowed.” Program management is essential:
Prudent programming can eliminate the negative effects of commodities introduced to the local economy.
World Vision programmers avoid using food resources that depress demand for appropriate local food products or that discourage local agricultural production. They avoid this problem primarily by using food grown in deficit regions and by distributing food in low-income areas where people have limited ability to produce or buy affordable food.