Cover Image
close this bookTackling Hunger in a World Full of Food: Tasks Ahead for Food Aid (WFP)
close this folder2. The first goal of food aid: saving life
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe damage wrought by crises
View the documentFood aid in emergencies
View the documentRehabilitation and crisis prevention

Rehabilitation and crisis prevention

2.14 Food aid plays a role beyond human survival; it is also a resource for investment in long-term development. Emergency operations must be designed to facilitate a smooth and prompt transition of operations from relief towards development. Attainment of stable livelihoods after a crisis demands more than long-term feeding of vulnerable groups.

Saving lives, saving livelihoods

2.15 The human damage caused by severe hunger is only a part of the overall problem. A depletion of resources caused by large-scale hunger, or the creation of refugee camps, carries the implications of food insecurity far beyond the realm of a discrete event. Once a disaster has passed, even a natural disaster, the process of household-, and nation-rebuilding can be severely impeded by the loss of people, community integration, livestock, savings and even the government's capacity to tax and invest. Thus, once conditions have stabilized and minimal food consumption has been established among affected people, food aid must be used in varied ways to help enhance the human skills and economic assets of a food-assisted population through nutrition and other training programmes, as well as through community, infrastructure and agricultural development activities.
2.16 The first task is to prevent people whose lives have been saved from slipping back into hunger again. This may involve supplementary feeding for still-vulnerable groups combined with a carefully phased reduction in the scale and sized of more general distribution activities. The second task is to help regain or rebuild the asset base and productive capacities of people and the local economy. Roads and markets, schools and clinics often need to be rebuilt in war-torn countries such as Mozambique, Cambodia and Ethiopia. The use of local private sector capabilities for the transport of food through private traders also contributes to a re-establishment and strengthening of markets. Increasing amounts of food aid are being used to support programmes to demobilize thousands of combatants, to de-mine once productive farmland, to resettle long-term refugees, and, importantly, to rebuild through food-for-work the roads, bridges, and market-places upon which secure agricultural growth and economic recovery will depend. In other words, emergency operations can leave lasting results beyond saving life.