Thursday, August 16, 2007

"CARE turns down Federal Funds for Food Aid"

A very interesting article from the NYT about how CARE is moving away from subsidized food aid (which supports US Farm subsidies) toward other types of aid which support the growth of local economies (at least, that's my take from a cursory glance at the article).

Worth a closer look, but my time at the coffee shop is growing short, so I had to blog about it right away.

An excerpt:
MALELA, Kenya — CARE, one of the world’s biggest charities, is walking away from some $45 million a year in federal financing, saying American food aid is not only plagued with inefficiencies, but also may hurt some of the very poor people it aims to help.

Walter Otieno, a Kenyan farmer, with his children in the small store he has been able to finance from his sunflower sales. More Photos »

CARE’s decision is focused on the practice of selling tons of often heavily subsidized American farm products in African countries that in some cases, it says, compete with the crops of struggling local farmers.

The charity says it will phase out its use of the practice by 2009. But it has already deeply divided the world of food aid and has spurred growing criticism of the practice as Congress considers a new farm bill.

“If someone wants to help you, they shouldn’t do it by destroying the very thing that they’re trying to promote,” said George Odo, a CARE official who grew disillusioned with the practice while supervising the sale of American wheat and vegetable oil in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.

Under the system, the United States government buys the goods from American agribusinesses, ships them overseas, mostly on American-flagged carriers, and then donates them to the aid groups as an indirect form of financing. The groups sell the products on the market in poor countries and use the money to finance their antipoverty programs. It amounts to about $180 million a year.

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