Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the largest of UN agencies, hopes to make sure that at the very least, the people of Earth don’t starve. But are they always making the world a better place?
Actually, it’s not as black and white. After the World Food Conference in 1974 two new organizations with similar goals were created — World Food Council and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Why does one global objective need three organizations? Seems like resources would be wasted and efforts would be misdirected. In fact, it was FAO’s poor performance that led to this power struggle. By the early 80s the three organizations were bitter rivals. Meanwhile, the FAO launched World Food Programme (WFP). The program was initially supposed to run for three years, but has since become a world's largest humanitarian organization which fights hunger and promotes food security – but not before a power struggle between the WFP and FAO directors struggling for power.
James Shikwati, a Kenyan economist, penned an article entitled “Are African Governments Founded on Fraud?”
Foreign Aid is a bribe given to poor countries by rich nations to enable the latter access resources, and markets cheaply. It is also a bribe to poor nations to prevent the migration of poor people to rich nations. It is a bribe to poor nations meant to address rich nation’s interests. We all know what bribes (aid) do to our police force (governments), the police get fatter but the crime and traffic offense related highway accident rates go up (under development of people).
In other words, not only the aid programs may be following the “give the man a fish” idea instead of “teach the man how to fish”. Moreover, programs such as WFP are often easily abused by corrupted governments, who have no motivation to improve the local economy and instead use aid to reinforce their rule and oppress the local population even more.
Some of the issues are not that simple. Global food is a volatile market. If some kind of commodity is produced in greater quantity, its price drops, and this is not a good thing for everyone. In 1999, for example, there was a large surplus of agricultural goods in donor countries – but this undermined agricultural producers in poor countries, which made them even more dependent on aid, not their own economies.
And there may have been even more serious misconduct. A report by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia stated in 2010:
…for more than 12 years, delivery of WFP food aid has been dominated by three individuals and their family members or close associates: Abukar Omar Adaani, Abdulqadir Mohamed Nur “Enow” and Mohamed Deylaaf. In 2009, these three individuals secured 80 per cent of WFP delivery contracts as part of the WFP transportation budget of approximately $200 million. On account of their contracts with WFP, these three men have become some of the wealthiest and most influential individuals in Somalia.
However it may be, either food aid fund had been grossly misused or the Programme is being used and abused for political reasons.