4 Responses

  1. Peter Callan
    Peter Callan June 19, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Ashlee, I cannot thank you enough for your terrific critique of SWEDOW aid. The requirement for the Australian aid program to buy and ship millions of tonnes of Australian grain over 40+ years (up to 2007) was hugely costly and distortionary – both for the program and for development. AusAID made the best of a bad job by channelling increasing proportions of this commitment through WFP, but assistance in the form of food sourced from Australia was rarely the best option in humanitarian situations (because of the distance, time and cost involved), and it was always costly and distorted local markets and incentives when delivered as development assistance – even in food-for-work or school feeding programs.

    Alas, AusAID has had to ward off many hare-brained cases of SWEDOW, often pushed by MPs and not just confined to food. Your critique is timely.


  2. Joel Negin
    Joel Negin June 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Ashlee,

    Great piece and it is critical that we respond to these suggestions before they get too much momentum. Some colleagues did some analysis of this in the African context and found that US food aid (buying US grain/maize, shipping on US carriers, paying for US NGOs to distribute) cost US$670 per ton. Local purchasing (in neighbouring countries or regions) cost US$240 per ton and supporting farmers with seed and fertiliser to grow their own food cost about US$77 per ton. So there is a strong cost-effectiveness/wastage argument as well as the others you have made.


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