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Missing the point. An analysis of food security interventions in the Great Lakes

This paper is concerned with food security in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Based on seven case studies (including two cases of seeds distribution) in three countries (Uganda, Burundi and DRC), it concludes that many, if not most, food security interventions there have failed to address the needs of people affected by crises.

The same interventions are being used in nearly all circumstances, largely because these responses are not based on an understanding of the real needs of people, and insufficient attempts have been made to find out what those needs might be. Many responses were based on questionable and untested assumptions, were plagued by logical inconsistencies, and provided poor value for money.

The paper calls on humanitarian agencies to acknowledge that there is a problem, and to increase their commitment to confronting it. Although many of the recommendations have been made before, this study aims to add urgency to agency and donor attempts to improve food security responses. Although the study is based on evidence from the Great Lakes, some of the results are also relevant to other places (for instance southern Africa or the Horn of Africa).

HPG, Network Pape, n°47, July 2004

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