New ways to provide food assistance

ImageTo encourage innovative means to provide food assistance to regions in need of humanitarian aid, Ambassador Patriota convened a panel discussion on this matter. In doing so, the Ambassador highlighted the Brazilian application of cash transfer to implement the “Bolsa Familia” safety-net programme as a way to motivate families to send children to school and to clinic check-ups.

In the context of short-term action, Mr. Mogwanja highlighted the difference between direct provision of food aid and cash-transfer style food assistance, the latter being preferable as it is a more economically sustainable tool. Mr. Janz stated that cash-transfer is a viable form of food assistance, as it pinpoints to the problem of lack of purchasing power of disaster victims without having crippled the local agricultural market by flooding the market with relief food. Mr. Janz elaborated on the benefit of cash-transfer food assistance, stating that it gives disaster victims dignity by giving them choices in food and enhances efficiency of aid by reducing the logistical cost of transporting food aid. Ms. Souza stated how the World Food Programme implemented the cash-transfer in conjunction with local purchase of relief material to further enhance food assistance’s positive impact to the local economy, a point which Ambassador Boureima echoed when detailing the “Nigerien feeds Nigerien” initiative in his country.

Speaking on behalf of the donors, Ms. Fink-Hooijer stated that the donor community in general support the cash-transfer initiative, but adopts a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to the effectiveness of large-scale implementation in disaster relief. Ambassador Shearman echoed this point, and added that he hopes future cash-transfer can be implemented in form of cash handout instead of voucher to further reduce its distortion of the local market.

Meeting Title: Cash Transfers, Local Purchases and Social Safety-Nets: Bridging the Divide between Assistance and Development
Speakers: Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF; H.E. Ambassador Boubacar Boureima, Permanent Representative of Niger to the United Nations; Darana Souza, Programme Coordinator for World Food Programme; Udo K. Janz, Director of UNHCR Office in New York; Israel Klug, Project Coordinator of PAA Africa Programme; Minister Counsellor Nuria Mohammed, Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations; Florika Fink-Hooijer, Policy Director of ECHO; Martin Shearman, Ambassador for Development and Human Rights, UK Department for International Development; H.E. Ambassador Michael Grant, Deputy Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations; Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator of UNDP; Scott Paul, Humanitarian Policy Advisor of OXFAM; Hansjoerg Strohmeyer, Chief of Policy Development and Studies Branch of UN OCHA
Location: Conference Room 5, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

 

A new generation of Analytical Tools for Preparedness and Resilience

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This morning, a panel discussion on analytical tools for humanitarian decision-making was held at the United Nations. Ms. Hooijer opened the discussion by stressing the fundamental need of analytical tools to assist policy makers in visualising multi-layer crises and making informed evidence-based decisions.

Mr. Williams took the floor and introduced InfoRM (The Index for Risk Management), the first global, objective and transparent tool for understanding the risk of humanitarian crises. He pointed out the birth of InfoRM provided the capacity to build people’s resilience through prioritisation, risk profiling and trend analysis that allowed different actors to be well prepared and make better responses. Mr. Williams commented InfoRM was an adaptive tool due to its global coverage, transparent data and flexible methodology and had been widely adopted by FAO, OCHA, ECOSOC, UNICEF, World Food Programme etc. Mr. Williams hoped for a broader adoption of this tool so that resources can be aligned.

Ms. Scott presented a roadmap that can help build resilience after risk assessment. Ms. Scott stressed that resilience can only be brought about when it is integrated in all parts of the system. Ms. Scott pointed out current humanitarian focus was simply on adaptive capacity, as systems become less exposed to shock. She saw the urgency for transformation mainly in the individual/household level and also national level to make a total system change where the shock will no longer be an impact. Ms. Scott emphasised that social capital and role of host family were most critical in resilience building.

Ms. Ribeiro, on behalf of Brazil, was in favour of analytic tools in helping the country to get informed, prepared and making sure money was well spent in a sustainable and preventive manner. Ms. Ribeiro highlighted the success story of the adoption of cash transfer programme and local purchases of food as resilience-building instruments to alleviate extreme poverty, reduce risk and promote resilience.

Meeting: A new generation of analytical tools for preparedness and resilience
Speakers: Ms. Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director for Strategy, Policy and International Cooperation, ECHO; Mr. Craig Williams, Chief of the Field Information Services Section (FISS), OCHA; Ms. Rachel Scott, Senior Humanitarian Advisor, OECD; Ms. Adriana Telles Ribeiro, Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations
Location: Conference Room 5 NLB, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 24 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Nutrition as an Input and an Outcome of Resilience

The concept of resilience and its practical application in food security and nutrition, both in policy formation and implementation, has recently become a topical issue among humanitarian development communities.

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Today at the United Nations, a panel discussion on nutrition aimed to propose approaches and develop a concrete action plan that can be taken to strengthen resilience towards the root causes of malnutrition. Building upon the discussion and conclusions from the IFPRI 2020 conference held in Addis Ababa, the event aimed to provide insights for the preparation of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) and the post-2015 developmental agenda. 

Chairperson, Sandra Aviles opened the discussion by highlighting the importance of understanding the term resilience not as jargon, but as a term that is practically defined as a tangible indicator that can help communities bridge the gap between short term goals and long term developmental agendas.

Mrs. Florika focused her address on locating target communities that are most vulnerable to malnutrition. She stated that, “children below the age of five and pregnant and lactating women were among those that are the most severe targets of hunger needs”. In response, ECHO and OCHA are developing a system to index risk factors, develop key indicators, and resilience markers and identify best practices to provide humanitarian assistance to these communities with maximum output. Mrs. Dolores highlighted natural disasters as another factor that threaten food security. Crises prone regions of developing countries are often ill equipped with coping up with natural disasters, and at times such disasters occur with little time gap which further threatens food security and enhances health risks.

In conclusion, Mrs. Charlotte Dufour, drawing upon a programme conducted with ECHO that addressed the challenge of access to land as an underlying causes of malnutrition, highlighted some of the practical problems that schemes faced when tested on ground. She posited that institutional silos existed across and within institutions that hinder the establishment of a common language of indicators. Furthermore, while institutions possess technical skills they lack the organizational and planning skills that are required to initiate programmes in countries with fragile governments, weak leadership and high levels of corruption.

 

Meeting Title: “Nutrition as an input and an outcome of resilience”
Speakers: Sandra Aviles; Senior Liason Officer, Programme Development & Humanitarian Affairs, FAO; Mrs. Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director for Strategy, Policy and International Cooperation, ECHO; Mrs. Dolores Rio, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF; Mrs. Charlotte Dufour, Nutrition Officer, FAO; Mrs. Muriel Calo, Senior Food Security & Livelihood Advisor, Action Against Hunger
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 7 (NLB), New York 
Date: 23 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Apurv Gupta
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark