Cover Image
close this bookCARE Food Manual (CARE , 1998, 355 p.)
close this folderChapter 1 - Programming Food Resources
close this folderII. Interventions
close this folderB. Policies and Procedures
View the document1. When to Use Food Resources
View the document2. CARE's Food Programming Principles
View the document3. Objectives for the Use of Food Resources
View the document4. Constraints on Using Food Resources

1. When to Use Food Resources

In some natural disasters such as an earthquake or flooding, where food production and/or stocks may have been disrupted, resources may be sufficient for a short period. For areas with minimal or no productive capacity, few alternative income generating activities, a depleted natural resource base or high levels of malnutrition, longer-term use of food may be required.

Long-term use of food can be targeted for vulnerable, chronically food-insecure groups, such as female-headed households or children. All long-term projects should incorporate agriculture, health, agro-forestry or income-generating interventions into their programming strategies.

Development of household livelihood security (food security) interventions may or may not require the use of imported food resources.

Consider the following scenarios:

· A minor disruption occurs in food stocks, crops, or marketing systems. If communities and households are able to draw on their savings, food reserves or other sources of assistance or income, no food assistance is needed.

· Due to a natural disaster or civil disturbance, food stocks are lost, normal food supply/marketing systems are disrupted, and/or food crops are damaged. Short-term food assistance is needed. The duration may be as brief as a few days or as long as until the next harvest.

· The opportunity to return to food self-reliance is deferred over a long period. This includes successive crop failures and situations involving refugees or displaced persons. The initial health/nutritional status of the population, their possibilities to grow food and/or engage in other income-generating activities, and the policies of the government will determine the length of the transition from relief to self-sufficiency. Long-term food assistance may be required.

Food resources should only be allocated after a thorough needs analysis of a target population and area. The analysis should include a close examination of food production, supply, and marketing systems in the area and outside. Food aid may disrupt local markets in the distribution area and also negatively influence markets in surrounding regions. Analysis should also project what effect there could be when the project is terminated.

2. CARE's Food Programming Principles

Food aid should be programmed under specific conditions and with certain precautions; to do otherwise would risk a costly and ineffective intervention that creates dependency and acts as a disincentive to local food production. Food programs should be based on CARE food programming principles (adapted from CARE's Use of Food Aid: Policy and Guidelines, 1985):

· Priority to low-income food-deficient countries

· Targeted to benefit disadvantaged segments of the populations of the recipient countries

· Based on development criteria. Use of food aid must be a logical and integral part of the development efforts of the recipient countries and the region. Food aid should be consistent with overall strategies for the production and consumption of food in those countries.

· Developed, implemented, and evaluated with community participation and aimed toward community self-reliance. Selecting appropriate administrative and operational counterparts is critical and presents an opportunity to involve national and local private institutions and organizations reaching the greatest majority of the population.

· Include systems for both process and impact evaluation.

· Advocate for important food aid issues.

· Meet standards of accountability for food aid programming, including a clear statement of the project's framework and expectations, and assessment of potential impact on domestic agricultural production and consumption.

3. Objectives for the Use of Food Resources

If food is determined to be an appropriate resource, final and intermediate goals and quantifiable indicators should be identified. The following examples show how food resources can be used (adapted from CARE Haiti Food Aid Procedures Manual, July 1994):

Uses of Food Resources



Degree of Need



Save lives


Emergency feeding involves providing a large group of people with almost complete daily rations. The size and mix of the ration will depend upon expected duration of the critical hunger period. Emergency program design should include the means for determining when the emergency is over.


Restore health


Rehabilitative feeding is directed to those who have suffered acute malnutrition to the point of severe bodily wasting. They require intensive feeding with special foods.


Maintain adequate nutrition, income transfer


Maintenance feeding is directed towards a group of people who for some reason (age, sex, social class, lack of capital) consume less than an adequate diet for achieving and maintaining normal health. The gap may be constant throughout a period of time (e.g., weaning) or recurrent (e.g., agricultural workers during a slow season). This type of chronic hunger will recur with predictable effect on a certain group of people, and can move into an emergency or rehabilitative situation if it persists beyond individuals' ability to cope.


Enhance human potential; address causes of hunger/ poverty


Developmental programs use food to achieve an objective not directly related to lessening immediate hunger. The objective may be to avoid future hunger by addressing its causes, or to address related but different problems, such as water, environment, population or capital formation. Food may be monetized and the proceeds from sale used for a wider range of development activities.

4. Constraints on Using Food Resources

In finalizing decisions about the use of food resources, consider the following issues:

· Effects on dietary patterns, intra-household distributions of food and cultural preferences
· Effects on distribution of income
· Effects on local production and markets
· Effects on local logistics, storage, and transportation
· Effects on community initiative.