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Food Assistance Programs in Africa

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Food assistance programs obviously help with food shortage issues around the world, but it is important to see how effective they really are, and which of their methods are most efficient in promoting healthy living for the people that they support. Africa is the continent that receives the most aid through food assistance programs because of their high rate of poverty, disease and malnutrition, along with harmful weather patterns. Therefore, Africa is an important continent to focus on in order to represent the effectiveness of food assistance programs worldwide. There are several different food assistance programs that help across various African countries, but the main focus should be set on one of the largest: the World Food Program (WFP). The World Food Program is run by the United Nations which contributes extraordinary amounts of money to those who need it most. They collect donations from countries throughout the world, and put the money to use in ways that they see fit. There are 47 countries in Africa, and the World Food Program is currently active in 40 of them. This program provides Africa, along with the rest of the world, with billions of dollars of support each year to help them through different struggles, with a main focus on food availability and production. A variety of statistics and evaluations can be used to see how effective the World Food Program is in assisting Africa and reducing their continuing struggles with food shortages and malnutrition.

Africa is the second largest continent in the world, and faces one of the largest problems in the world as well. Their inability to grow enough food to provide for the population leaves a huge number of African citizens underweight and undernourished. According to Harriet Lee, in Sub-Saharan Africa alone in 2008, more than 25 percent of children under five years old are underweight. She expresses her concern by saying, "Nigeria and Ethiopia alone account for more than one-third of all underweight children in Sub-Saharan Africa." (Lee, 2) It is known that well-fed children have decreased risk of disease, and are more likely to grow into healthy adults. Also, "Well-nourished women face fewer risks during pregnancy and childbirth, and their children set off on firmer developmental paths, both physically and mentally"(Lee, 3). It is important to realize how prevalent the problems of hunger and malnutrition have been and still are in Africa today. Often the real magnitude of these problems goes unnoticed.

The World Food Program, administered by the United Nations, concentrates most of its work and money in Africa. According to their database, the World Food Program spent $2.2 billion out of its $3.5 billion total direct expenditures in Africa in the year 2008. This great amount of money invested show how desperate Africa is for help and the lack of food for its starving people. Africa is not the only area in the world where extreme starvation occurs, but with over 60 percent of the money from the World Food Program going to Africa, it is clear where the most widespread problems lie. Aiding 40 countries and more than 53 million people, (which is more than 50 percent of the total assisted in 2008) the WFP must invest this great amount of money in order for the people of Africa to sustain healthy enough diets to survive, and to hopefully ensure a healthy future for later generations of the African people.

The World Food Program has recently created a new Strategic Plan in 2008, which extends through 2011. This plan looks to "shift from a food aid to a food assistance agency aiming to reduce dependency and support governments' and global efforts to ensure long-term solutions to hunger through a set of tools responding to critical needs" (WFP, 7). This is a very important shift for the WFP, because they hope to slowly help the people of Africa sustain healthy lifestyles on their own by becoming less dependent on food drops. They are looking to do this through their



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