Food Crises and Resilience


The situation in the world as regards food security is not improving and in some cases is worsening, according to the report on “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World”, jointly published by the FAO, WFP, IFAD, UNICEF and the WHO.

The number of undernourished people rose by 38 million in 2016, reaching an estimated 815 million, or 11% of the global population (1 in 9 people). Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment, with 22.7% of the population affected , i.e. 243 million people. Meanwhile Asia, at 520 million, is the region with the most undernourished people, accounting for 11.7% of the population.

Recurring food crises worldwide have highlighted the need to change the thinking around emergencies and development. Working on the basis that humanitarian assistance which only provides temporary crisis relief rarely prepares populations for future crises, resilience is all about dealing with the issue of food security from a more comprehensive and long-term perspective. It is a solution to the frequent disconnect between communities and emergency and development in order to give populations the means to withstand uncertainties and shocks themselves. Programmed food aid is a key part of this framework.

General Principles for Programmed Food Assistance

Programmed food aid is mainly targeted at bolstering the resilience of populations and fighting malnutrition.
France dedicates an average of €34 million to this per year. Given the scale of food insecurity in the world, the choices made as part of programmed food assistance aim to optimize the use of these funds by targeting what France deems to be priority countries suffering from poverty and neglected areas, and by promoting a return to greater food autonomy for vulnerable populations.
Programme food assistance enables France to help populations become more resilient, be it in emergency situations or in the context of chronic food insecurity (regions heavily affected by climate risks, such as the Sahel or the Horn of Africa, or extended crisis contexts due to conflicts, for example in countries bordering Syria). Purchase of foodstuffs on local or regional markets is encouraged, in accordance with the FAO and WFP strategies. This way of operating is essential for vulnerable populations and helps local production and commercialization to recover at the same time as providing food aid through monetary transfers or food stamps.
Decisions about how this budget is distributed are made three times per year. The choice of projects is made based on important priorities: climate, nutrition, gender, restarting agriculture in fragile areas, use of new food aid tools according to the London Food Assistance Convention (money transfers and actions to restart the economy), signed by France in June 2017.

French Programmed Food Assistance in 2018

In 2018, France’s total programmed food assistance budget was €33,500,000.
The increasing number of crises, mainly due to the climate or conflicts, and their increasingly long-term nature, has meant that programmed food assistance will be used for emergency operations together with work to support the resilience of communities.

The humanitarian consequences of the Syrian crisis in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq have used a significant proportion of the programmed food assistance budget.
In 2018, €4.5 million was apportioned to this area. The humanitarian situation requires a significant international response to support host countries to avoid widespread destabilization of the region. France is focusing its assistance on tools which support local trade in host countries including, for example, food stamp distribution projects in Lebanon and Jordan.

Yemen is facing a major conflict and the populations in certain areas were on the brink of famine in 2017. In 2018, €2 million was allocated to the Yemeni population.

France has also maintained its involvement in the Palestinian Territories which suffer from chronic problems (€1.5 million in 2018) and require social safety nets to tackle food insecurity.
The number of crises has also grown in Africa. A balance must be found between, on the one hand, the importance of responding to new humanitarian emergencies (conflicts and droughts) and crises and, on the other hand, the need to maintain high levels of involvement in regions with chronic food and nutritional instability, such as the Sahel which this year is also dealing with the consequences of the 2017 droughts.

In 2018, €10.35 million in French food assistance was allocated to West Africa. The multiple causes of food insecurity in the region (climate change, market disruption, political instability, significant poverty) entail continuous monitoring and support to implement resilience support tools, as well as ad hoc emergency responses during periods of severe food and nutritional insecurity. Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger were the main recipients.

In Central Africa, the political instability in the Central African Republic has led to significant involvement from France in the CAR, but also for Central African Republic refugees in Cameroon and the DRC. Furthermore, the food crisis due to Boko Haram required support in Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon. Burundi, the African country with the highest malnutrition rate in children, also benefited from French assistance. In 2018, €9.4 million was allocated to Central Africa, mainly for projects aimed at restarting agriculture and improving nutrition.

In Southern and Eastern Africa, France’s programmed food assistance was used in areas heavily impacted by several years of successive droughts in Ethiopia, Djibouti and Madagascar. In 2018, a total of €2.75 million was allocated to this region.

Some €1.55 million of France’s programmed food assistance was also used in Asia with a focus on Myanmar and Bangladesh (Rohingya crisis) and North Korea (fight against malnutrition) and in the Caribbean (Haiti), which is heavily affected by recurring cyclones (€0.5 million).

Recipient organisations of programmed food assistance

The leading operator for France’s programmed food assistance remains the World Food Programme (WFP) with €15.725 million in 2018. This is followed by NGOs with €7.3 million, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with €2.8 million, UNRWA with €1.25 million, the FAO with €1.95 million in 2016 and UNICEF with €0.475 million in 2016.

A wide variety of resilience support tools are used across these projects including seed distribution, training in nutrition or agricultural techniques, land restoration work and support for school cantines. These operating methods help provide long-term prevention of food insecurity in fragile areas which are exposed to climate risks.

Furthermore, over 50% of the projects financed by France’s programmed food assistance have a nutritional aspect, in accordance with France’s commitment made during the Nutrition for Growth summit held in Rome in 2014.

Mise à jour : juin 2018