Food assistance programs can be a powerful tool in addressing food insecurity; these programs vary in the forms they take, from direct distribution of food aid to the use of cash or food vouchers. Before designing any sort of programming, donors and implementing partners must have a deep understanding of the effects different types of food assistance modalities could have on local markets.
Food assistance programs should not harm the same situations they are intended to improve. When poorly designed, a food assistance program – whether it include a food, cash, or voucher-based transfer – can disrupt markets or disincentivize production while also fueling price inflation. However, when thoughtfully designed taking into account local context and constraints, food assistance can improve purchasing power, free up resources, and decrease or stabilize high food prices, especially during lean seasons.
Fintrac has extensive experience researching food assistance and markets to provide donors with thorough analyses that help them avoid these pitfalls and ensure efficient management and distribution of food commodities.
What Fintrac Offers Clients:
- Reports on food assistance and agricultural markets (often referred to as a Bellmon analysis), which include an overview of local staples markets, food security programs, logistics, local food procurement, and recommendations to inform program design.
- Market analysis of key commodities relevant to food assistance programming.
- Studies of household food security and local dietary patterns.
- Food assistance ration design, based on market analysis and dietary patterns, including recommendations on commodity sourcing (transoceanic, local, or regional markets).
- Local and regional food procurement studies, including fortified blended foods and ready-to-use therapeutic foods.
- Food aid monetization feasibility studies.
- Commodity reference guides.
- Food aid commodity management, organizational capacity, and logistical reviews.
- Cash transfer and food voucher feasibility studies and response analysis.
Recent Projects and Assignments
Bellmon Estimation Studies for Title II (BEST). USAID-BEST was a DC-based research project under contract from the USAID Office of Food for Peace. The project, which ran from August 2008 to February 2015, conducted research on global agricultural markets and food assistance programs. Synthesizing this information, USAID-BEST provided recommendations to USAID on the design of food security programming. For example, a thorough review of local markets, dietary patterns, and food processing initiatives in Bangladesh provided USAID and NGOs with a suite of options for food assistance ration design. In Mali, BEST research led to the inclusion of a locally-produced fortified food blend into a development food assistance program. Over the life of the project, USAID-BEST completed 44 studies in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean; all the literature produced on food assistance and markets is now housed with USAID.
Ethiopia Commodity Assessment. In July 2015, USAID/Ethiopia contracted Fintrac to conduct a thorough analysis of the USAID-funded Food for Peace Title II Development Food Assistance Program (DFAP) implementing partners in the Amhara and Tigray regions of Ethiopia. The assessment closely analyzed the management practices of the implementing organizations to determine whether their food aid management and distribution systems were consistent with USAID regulations and guidelines, and in compliance with international best practices for food aid commodity management and reporting. The Fintrac assessment team carried out key informant interviews, warehouse inspections, food aid distribution process monitoring, a beneficiary household survey, and local market visits in Amhara and Tigray. A final assessment and presentation was delivered to USAID/Ethiopia for their use to guide future food aid programs.
Illustrative Published Reports
The subset of reports below represents a cross-section of food assistance publications produced by Fintrac. Our research spans geographic and operating contexts.
- Report on Liberia: Role of Markets in Food Security, Pre-Ebola Crisis, 2014
- Report on Bangladesh: USAID-BEST Analysis, 2014
- Bangladesh Commodity Reference Guide, 2014
- Report on Nepal: USAID-BEST Analysis, 2013
- Report on Malawi: USAID-BEST Analysis, 2013