Effects of food aid on household consumption and marketed production: The case of maize in Northern Uganda
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The Northern Uganda conflict led to internal displacement which reduced agricultural production, caused food insecurity and high malnutrition. In 1997 the World Food Programme (WFP) started providing food aid to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Gulu, Kitgum and Pader Districts of Northern Uganda. At that time there were 450,000 IDPs (Das and Nkutu, 2008). In 2007, WFP distributed food to 458,000 IDPs in 92 camps and transit sites in Gulu and Amuru Districts alone, and in 2008, a total of 755,000 IDPs were still receiving monthly food assistance in Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts (Das and Nkutu, 2008). Maize has been one of the major grains distributed as food aid by the WFP and other agencies to the IDPs in Northern Uganda. Total food aid deliveries to Uganda more than tripled from 87,700 metric tons in 1998 to about 278,400 metric tons in 2007, with much of the deliveries going to Northern and North-Eastern Uganda. Cereals form the bulk of food aid shipments into Uganda. Food aid has been contentious globally because of its perceived disincentive effects on agricultural development in recipient countries. Some authorities argue that food aid contributes to economic development and protects basic human rights, where the aid fills a severe food gap. While others assert that food aid undermines food production, market development, and international trade and therefore impedes economic development and human rights in recipient countries. Empirical evidence on the impact of food aid in recipient countries is lacking and is often contradictory (Barrett, 2006). There is limited empirical work done in Uganda to demonstrate the effects of food aid on household consumption and marketing, yet approximately 10% of Uganda’s population depends on food aid (WFP, 2005). Targeted project food aid interventions for food security programming are ongoing in Northern, North-Eastern and other parts of Uganda. Policy makers and development practitioners need to understand the effects of food aid on household food consumption and marketed production. Maize is the commodity of choice in this study because it has been one of the major grains distributed as food aid to the IDPs in Northern Uganda. The objectives of this study were to examine the effects of in-kind food aid on consumption and marketed production amongst recipient households. Accordingly, the hypotheses tested with respect to the study objectives are that food aid decreases household expenditure on food and food aid has a negative effect on marketed production. 150 households were interviewed in Amuru and Gulu districts in 2008. The results indicate that an increase in the amount of food aid given to a household reduces both the likelihood of purchasing maize and the amount of money a household spends on maize consumption. In addition, households that receive food aid have higher maize consumption expenditures than households that do not receive food aid. Food aid helps vulnerable households increase consumption of much needed nutrients found in maize. However, as the amount of maize received as food aid increases, the probability that vulnerable households will sell off the ‘excess’ maize increases as they try to meet other household needs. The results have implications for food assistance programs that target vulnerable households with in-kind food transfers. These programs probably need to be designed to combine in-kind food with cash or other essential household non-food items.