BOSTON Implementing best-practice standards for emergency international food aid will improve the quality, timeliness and appropriateness of food aid, reports Daniel Maxwell, PhD, research director for Food Security and Complex Emergencies at the Feinstein International Center (FIC), part of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. In a forthcoming policy briefing paper from FIC, as well as an article in the journal Disasters, Maxwell outlines emerging best-practice standards for areas including information systems, analytical tools, and strategic targeting.
Information systems are essential for converting program planning to an analysis-driven process rather than a resource-driven process, notes Maxwell, who is also an associate professor at the Friedman School. Analyzing food security in a more holistic way will allow us to broaden responses beyond just food, he says. An integrated information system that incorporates analysis of baseline vulnerabilities of households, monitors household trends, and considers alternative responses will provide the evidence base for improved decision making and for planning a more appropriate humanitarian response.
Since the famine in Sahel over 30 years ago, information systems have emphasized early warning before a crisis. This is important, but even if well-documented, early warning alone has proven inadequate to plan a response. Maxwell stresses the importance of continual contextual monitoring and periodic program evaluation. He also highlights the need to separate information systems from operational budgets in order to maintain objectivity and impartiality about information gathered.
In addition to improving information systems, better tools and methods are needed to plan aid responses that may include not only food, but may also include the provision of complementary resources, such as water or cash. New analytical tools not only track trends in food securi
Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Tufts University, Health Sciences