Policy Implications of Droughts and Food Insecurity in Malawi and Zambia

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Case Study #7-3 of the Program: ''Food Policy For Developing Countries: The Role Of Government In The Global Food System''
This paper examines the recent droughts in Malawi and Zambia (covering the period 1990–2005 but with a focus on the 2001/2002 Southern African crisis), analyzing the impact of the droughts on food security and the responses to the crises. Several questions make these two countries particularly complex case studies: Why did relatively mild weather shocks lead to such a devastating crisis in 2001/2002? How did lack of coordination between governments and donors exacerbate the crisis? And why, given the historical tendency of these countries to experience recurrent droughts, were no measures put into place to counter the adverse impacts of the drought? The two countries share a number of characteristics that make them particularly vulnerable to food crises: unfavorable weather patterns, a high dependence on maize as the staple crop, poor health standards, unfavorable socioeconomic conditions, and a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS. The groups that have been most adversely affected in the population include landless people, femaleheaded households, and the growing number of orphans. Both governments, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), began liberalizing their agricultural sectors in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, which increased food insecurity in the countries. One response to drought has been increased food aid, with organizations like the World Bank, the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Oxfam, and others creating and supporting food aid and safety net programs. Food aid, in general, has been the subject of much criticism even though international organizations maintain that food aid is necessary in response to the recurrent crises in Southern Africa. Policy options include (1) increasing food reserves, (2) encouraging formal and informal trade, (3) creating social protection programs, (5) establishing innovative programs such as the Targeted Inputs Programme and futures contracts, and (6) setting up a global contingency fund. As an official of an international development assistance agency, your assignment is to design a strategy that will assist Malawi and Zambia in coping with the combined risks of food insecurity, drought, and HIV/AIDS.
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14 pp.
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Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences
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Anandita Philipose (2007). Case Study #7-3, ''Policy Implications of Droughts and Food Insecurity in Malawi and Zambia''. In: Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Fuzhi Cheng (editors), ''Food Policy for Developing Countries: Case Studies.''14 pp.
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