Toward Better Meeting The Needs Of The Food Insecure: Three Essays On The Theory And Reality Of Food Assistance Policies In The Sahel
Food insecurity is a significant challenge in the world, and nowhere more than in subSaharan Africa. The policy options available to combat food insecurity have been expanding in recent years, providing increased flexibility over where-and what-food is procured, and what form of transfer recipients receive. In designing policies key questions arise related to the impacts of procuring food in developing countries, what recipients prefer to receive, and the relative impacts of cash versus food transfers. This dissertation takes a microeconomic approach to filling some of the gaps in our knowledge of food assistance policy impacts. In the first paper we exploit a unique natural experiment to assess the performance of local procurement in Burkina Faso, and to test a number of hypotheses and claims. We find that procuring locally saves time and cost, does not affect local food prices, and has positive impacts on smallholder suppliers. Recipients also prefer local commodities. In the second and third papers we develop a theoretical household model to investigate cash versus food transfers in Niger, taking advantage of a randomized trial and a large-scale household survey. The first paper examines the importance of the contents of the food basket. The model predicts that an extra-marginal transfer of a staple grain will have negative impacts on dietary diversity relative to a cash transfer, whereas an extra-marginal transfer of higher quality food will have positive impacts. I confirm that these predictions hold in Niger. The third paper examines the differential impacts of food versus cash transfers on informal credit and gift exchange. The model predicts that cash recipients will be more likely to use transfers to pay debts, and this impact will be more pronounced when food prices are rising, as the expectation of rising prices erodes the relative value of cash to food in terms of future consumption. Findings in Niger confirm these predictions, and highlight several implications of the relative scarcity of cash versus food. These papers inform food assistance policy in the Sahel, and provide a novel lens through which to understand the mechanisms behind food assistance policy impacts.
development economics; food security; sub-Saharan Africa
Pinstrup-Andersen, Per; Gomez, Miguel I.
Ph.D. of Agricultural Economics
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis