Food Security, Consumption and Demand Policies

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Food security is defined as access to sufficient food to meet the energy and nutrient requirements for a healthy and productive life. The majority of food-insecure people live in rural areas of developing countries. Their food security is heavily influenced by poverty, access to resources, and fluctuations in weather patterns and markets. Household and individual food security is also influenced by household behavior in general and intrahousehold allocations in particular, which in turn, are influenced by knowledge, promotion, and advertising. The cases in this section explain how government policies can reduce food insecurity caused by rural poverty and fluctuations in weather patterns and markets to which the rural poor are exposed, as well as change household allocative behavior and regulate external influences such as food advertising by retailers and wholesalers.

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    Cuba's Food-Rationing System and Alternatives
    Carter, Andrea (CUL Initiatives in Publishing (CIP), 2013)
    The global financial crisis of recent years has prompted a review of Cuba's economy—one of the most enduring aspects of Cuban society. Led by reform-minded President Raúl Castro, Cuba is embarking on some of the most sweeping social and economic transformations enacted since the Revolution began in 1959. Since the announced layoff of 500,000 state workers in 2010, the government has taken a number of steps to reduce local subsidies and introduce new taxes in order to diminish the fiscal deficit. Though the economy will continue to be based on central planning, the country is privatizing and liberalizing key economic sectors. These reforms are being implemented slowly and cautiously, but they are expected to significantly affect the social, economic, and political landscape of the Caribbean nation (Perales 2011). The economic future of the island took center stage at the last congressional meeting of the Cuban Communist Party held in April 2011 (Perales 2011). Among the proposed reforms was the discontinuation of the
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    Niger's Famine and the Role of Food Aid
    Lewin, Alexandra C. (CUL Initiatives in Publishing (CIP), 2007)
    Since the mid-1970s Niger has suffered from political instability and corruption. Following a 1996 coup, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) worked with Niger to implement various structural adjustment programs, but nearly 10 years later, in 2004–2005, the country faced a food crisis. One-third of Niger's population suffered from high levels of food insecurity and vulnerability. Yet the food crisis gained little media coverage; the government of Niger denied the country was even faced with a food crisis and continued to claim that food shortages were normal for this country. As the crisis progressed, Niger did receive aid, yet efforts to improve the situation did not help. Many blamed the situation in Niger on donor countries—their delay in sending assistance and their lack of overall assistance. Others blamed the structural adjustment programs of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and most found at least some fault with the Nigerien government. The food crisis in Niger evolved into one of the largest food crisis “blame games.” Numerous challenges arise as policymakers try to craft a common solution appropriate for all stakeholders. In an analysis of what happened in Niger and why food aid was so ineffective, many central themes emerge. Corrupt governance was one issue, as was the timeliness of food aid. Food aid arrived too late; it then became available at the time of Niger's harvest, depressing market prices of Niger's staple foods. The United Nations, then, must examine how to most effectively target the neediest populations and how to best access assistance for these emergencies. In addition, one cannot separate the food crisis from the chronic poverty that exists in the country. Poor infrastructure, Niger's geographic position as a landlocked country, and low agricultural productivity remain a challenge to the overall health of the region. Many policy options exist for the donor countries, international institutions, and the government of Niger. Such options include improving the United Nations' Central Emergency Revolving Fund, establishing a Global Food Aid Compact, and reforming the Nigerien government (including implementing the country's poverty reduction strategy). Such steps can help prevent future crises and help alleviate the suffering of the people of Niger. Your assignment is to develop a set of policies that will satisfy the main stakeholder groups.
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    Intrahousehold Allocation, Gender Relations, and Food Security in Developing Countries
    Quisumbing, Agnes R.; Smith, Lisa C. (CUL Initiatives in Publishing (CIP), 2007)
    Many important decisions that affect development outcomes are made by households and families. What factors affect the way resources are allocated within the household? Why does the division of rights, resources, and responsibilities within the household matter for food security? This case study focuses on one dimension of the intrahousehold allocation of resources: gender. It begins with a definition of the household and discusses the factors that affect the distribution of resources within the household (including, but not limited to, gender). It then presents empirical evidence from two studies by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The first examines the link between women's status and child nutrition, using data from nearly 40 developing countries, and the second investigates how the resources that husbands and wives bring to marriage affect household expenditures and child schooling outcomes in four developing countries. This case study then identifies various stakeholders, including men, women, and especially children within families; community leaders, civil society organizations, and development practitioners at the local level; and national-level policy makers and members of the donor community who are interested in eradicating poverty, reducing malnutrition, and improving gender equity. Finally, it suggests two broad policy options to achieve gender equity: (1) eradicating discrimination and (2) promoting active catch-up of women's status, providing examples of successful programs in Bangladesh, Guatemala, and Mexico. Your assignment is to recommend to the government of a country of your choice how gender aspects should be incorporated in government policy to improve household food security and the nutritional status of women and children.
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    Zambia and Genetically Modified Food Aid
    Lewin, Alexandra C. (CUL Initiatives in Publishing (CIP), 2007)
    In 2002 the Zambian government rejected 35,000 tons of food aid because of the possibility that it could be genetically modified (GM). During this time roughly 3 million people in Zambia faced severe food shortages and extreme hunger. As the government turned away this food aid, a debate over GM food aid arose globally. The government of Zambia remains firmly against both milled and nonmilled GM food imports. Other governments throughout southern Africa have placed similar restrictions, although most will accept milled GM food aid. Much of southern Africa remains skeptical of GM food for a number of reasons. Some of the major concerns include potential health effects, environmental effects, cross-contamination between GM seeds (from nonmilled GM food imports) and GMfree crops in Africa, and increased labeling and certification costs for exporting goods to the European Union. On the other hand, many pro-GM groups throughout Zambia and the rest of southern Africa advocate for the acceptance of GM food aid. These groups commonly believe that the governments of southern Africa are making the wrong decision in denying food assistance to starving individuals. They point to the benefits of GM technology, which may include improved nutrition, decreased pesticide use, increased production and higher yields, and lower production costs. Zambians remain extremely poor and malnourished. Poor government policies and widespread corruption, as well as a lack of natural resources, a high rate of HIV/AIDS, rapid population growth, and low agricultural productivity, all contribute to Zambia's chronic food insecurity. Zambians' need for food assistance remains great, yet the government continues to turn away GM food aid. An examination of the stakeholders involved in the administration of food aid can help to illustrate the inadequacies within the food aid system. Stakeholders include international institutions (namely the World Food Programme), U.S. agribusinesses and shippers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and recipient countries' producers, consumers, and importers. The administration of U.S. food aid has come to be known as the iron triangle, referring to the power of three stakeholders—agribusinesses, shippers, and NGOs—over global food aid and their practices fostering the current structure of food aid programs Many international and development experts have faulted the United States for using the food aid system to benefit a small number of U.S. agribusinesses and shippers. NGOs, the third component of the iron triangle, have also been faulted for their dependence on food aid. The United States has increasingly advocated for widespread GM food acceptance, both within southern Africa and the European Union. Your assignment is to design a policy (or a set of policies) that attempts to ensure the effective use of food aid, while being acceptable to stakeholders within Zambia, other countries in southern Africa, and donor countries. Policies must address the imbalances seen within the iron triangle and, most important, tackle the root causes of poverty in an effort to alleviate the need for food aid.
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    Surviving Shocks in Ethiopia: The Role of Social Protection for Food Security
    Hiensch, Annick (CUL Initiatives in Publishing (CIP), 2007)
    Ethiopia has suffered from frequent disasters such as droughts, famines, epidemics, floods, landslides, earthquakes, civil wars, and mass displacement, as well as rapid declines in major export commodity prices. The government and the international aid community can help reduce the negative effects of these shocks on food security for vulnerable populations with a social protection strategy, which can include prevention of shocks, ex ante social insurance, and ex post social assistance. Social protection helps vulnerable populations manage their risks better and helps to create the link between relief and development. Policy options for social assistance programs that increase food security include targeted or general cash, in-kind, or voucher transfers; cash or in-kind conditional transfers (school feeding, employment guarantee scheme, food for training); price subsidies; and programs for the vulnerable. Social insurance options include cash or in-kind reserves, rural credit and microfinance, insurance schemes, livelihood diversification, and public works for the construction of infrastructure programs. The government also has the option to pursue agricultural policies that will minimize exposure to shocks, such as providing input subsidies for exportable commodities or moving away from export-led development and toward food self-sufficiency. Different social protection measures have varying levels of domestic and international support and are effective for targeting different groups of vulnerable people in Ethiopia. In response to the 2002 drought, the Government of Ethiopia revised its Food Security Strategy (FSS) and implemented a Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) in 2004 that includes cash transfers and a food-for-work (FFW) public works program. Your assignment is to design a new social protection program for the Government of Ethiopia that incorporates various forms of social assistance and social insurance, taking into account the different interests of stakeholders, the nature of the risk, coping strategies, and the poverty the vulnerable are facing.
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    Food Advertising Policy in the United States
    Gantner, Leigh (CUL Initiatives in Publishing (CIP), 2007)
    Marketing food to children is a complex, creative, and well-funded business in the United States. Food manufacturers are estimated to spend up to US$10 billion a year marketing foods to children, using a variety of techniques including television ads, magazine ads, Internet games, promotional packaging, give-aways, and corporate sponsorships and donations to schools. The overwhelming majority of foods marketed to children are high-calorie, highfat, and high-sugar foods, leading health experts and advocates to propose a strong link between increased food advertisements directed to children and the disturbing rise in overweight children in the United States and worldwide. Some advocates call for new, more stringent guidelines on marketing food to children; food marketing is largely a self-regulated process, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) playing a limited role. The primary self-regulatory body is the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), funded by industry to monitor ads directed at children and enforce guidelines pertaining to the truth, accuracy, and appropriateness of the ads for children. Guidelines specifically related to food advertisements state that the ads should encourage “sound use” of the product “with a view to the healthy development of the child and development of good nutritional practices” (NARC 2004, 12). Concerns have been raised, however, about whether industry is sufficiently motivated to enforce regulations on itself and whether it truly has the best interests of children in mind. Some countries, like Norway and Sweden, have completely banned all advertisements to children during children's programming.