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Alleviating transitory food crisis in Africa : international altruism and trade


  • Lavy, Victor


This paper focuses on criticism about the use of emergency food aid in sub-Saharan Africa. More specifically, it examines the response of the donor community to unexpected or transitory drops in domestic food production in 26 countries. The study compares the role of food aid and commercial food imports in offsetting these shocks and covering the shortfall in food consumption. Several hypotheses that determine the tendency of donors to respond to the needs of different countries are tested. The results suggest that food aid and commercial food imports stabilize food consumption and neutralize the effects of random shocks to domestic production. Food aid compensates for up to 50 percent of the drop in food production; imports make up an additional 30 percent. This paper documents the stylized facts of food insecurity in Africa and shows the relative importance of emergency and total food aid to food production and food shortages. The paper includes an empirical framework for the estimation and analysis of the correlation between food aid and food production and presents the results. Lastly, the paper elaborates on the economic and political determinants that affect the global response to the emergency needs of countries in Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Lavy, Victor, 1990. "Alleviating transitory food crisis in Africa : international altruism and trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 494, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:494

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Srinivasan, T N, 1989. "Food Aid: A Cause of Development Failure or an Instrument for Success?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 3(1), pages 39-65, January.
    2. Ravallion, Martin, 1987. "Trade and stabilization: Another look at British India's controversial foodgrain exports," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 354-370, October.
    3. Lavy, Victor, 1990. "Does food aid depress food production? The disincentive dilemma in the African context," Policy Research Working Paper Series 460, The World Bank.
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    1. Lavy, Victor, 1990. "Does food aid depress food production? The disincentive dilemma in the African context," Policy Research Working Paper Series 460, The World Bank.


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