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Aid And Agency In Africa Explaining Food Disbursements Across Ethiopian Households, 1994-2004


    (The Ohio State University)


    (University of Oxford)


    (Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi, India)

We study the distribution of food aid in Ethiopia between 1994 and 2004 using data from the Ethiopian Rural Household Survey. Over this period village leaders had considerable discretion in disbursing aid subject to official guidelines and periodic monitoring. We use a principal-agent model and household panel data for approximately 940 households to understand biases in the allocation of aid. The model shows that correlations between aid and observed measures of need are not a good measure of targeting because agents have incentives to distort allocations within targeted classes. Consistent with the model, we find that the aid recipients match official criteria but disbursements are negatively correlated with determinants of need that are not easily observable by monitoring agencies, namely pre-aid consumption, self-reported power and involvement in village-level organizations. Our results suggest informal structures of power within African villages influence the extent to which food aid insulates some of the world's poorest families from agricultural shocks but also that policy guidelines do constrain permissible deviations from need-based allocations.

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Paper provided by Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics in its series Working papers with number 208.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cde:cdewps:208
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  1. Shapouri, Shahla, 1990. "Food Aid: Motivation and Allocation Criteria," Foreign Agricultural Economic Report (FAER) 147994, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  2. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  3. Bardhan, Pranab & Mookherjee, Dilip, 2005. "Decentralizing antipoverty program delivery in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 675-704, April.
  4. Jayne, T. S. & Strauss, John & Yamano, Takashi & Molla, Daniel, 2001. "Giving to the Poor? Targeting of Food Aid in Rural Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 887-910, May.
  5. Lokshin, Michael & Ravallion, Martin, 2005. "Rich and powerful?: Subjective power and welfare in Russia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 141-172, February.
  6. James Levinsohn & Margaret McMillan, 2007. "Does Food Aid Harm the Poor? Household Evidence from Ethiopia," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization and Poverty, pages 561-598 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
  8. Jayne, Thomas S. & Strauss, John & Yamano, Takashi & Molla, Daniel, 2002. "Targeting of food aid in rural Ethiopia: chronic need or inertia?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 247-288, August.
  9. Barrett, Christopher B, 2001. "Does Food Aid Stabilize Food Availability?," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 335-49, January.
  10. Clay, Daniel C. & Molla, Daniel & Habtewold, Debebe, 1999. "Food aid targeting in Ethiopia: A study of who needs it and who gets it," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 391-409, August.
  11. del Ninno, Carlo & Dorosh, Paul A. & Subbarao, Kalanidhi, 2007. "Food aid, domestic policy and food security: Contrasting experiences from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 413-435, August.
  12. Galasso, Emanuela & Ravallion, Martin, 2005. "Decentralized targeting of an antipoverty program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 705-727, April.
  13. Stefan Dercon & Daniel O. Gilligan & John Hoddinott & Tassew Woldehanna, 2009. "The Impact of Agricultural Extension and Roads on Poverty and Consumption Growth in Fifteen Ethiopian Villages," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1007-1021.
  14. Conning, Jonathan & Kevane, Michael, 2002. "Community-Based Targeting Mechanisms for Social Safety Nets: A Critical Review," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 375-394, March.
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