Why Food Aid Persists and Food Security Recedes

  • McDougall, Corrie Lynn S. (Project Participant)

    Project Details


    Northern-based non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) have increasingly gained an important role in alleviating hunger worldwide. Approaches to fighting hunger first began in the 1950s on a bilateral basis and were primarily centred on the shipment of food aid from nations with agricultural surpluses to less industrialised nations.

    However, in light of these efforts, the last fifty years has seen an increase in the number of persons suffering from hunger across the globe.  This has lead to an expansion in literature questioning the effectiveness of food-based approaches to end hunger, as well as the role of NGDOs in this process. Much of the research points to development based on securing local food supplies as a more sustainable development practice, instead of the more immediate responses associated with the provision of food aid. As a consequence, NGDOs have sought new approaches to combat hunger in their programming strategies.

    Historically, Canada has been a major provider of food aid as a means to end hunger, with Canadian NGDOs playing a key role in this process. The majority of the development initiatives by Canadian NGDOs centre of long-term development strategies based on principles of improving local food supplies. However, today there remains one NGDO, the Canadian Foodgrains Bank that has maintained food aid as a primary strategy and continues to expand its development program.

    The empirical context of the dissertation is the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Canada's leading development organisation in the provision of food aid. The development of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, since its establishment in 1983, has been studied within the context of the changing perspectives on fighting global hunger within the international aid system.  A combined framework, based on the major theoretical perspectives of both Resource Dependency Theory and Institutional Theory within organisational studies, has been employed to analyse the stories of key informants involved in these events and therefore advance an explanatory narrative of the changes in the organisation in response to the aid system.


    This study suggests that the main themes within this narrative may be of explanatory value in studying processed of organizational change in Northern-based NGDOs involved in hunger alleviation. Moreover, the loose set of themes conceived from the interpretation of semi-structured interviews from an assortment of relevant informants can also be considered as providing a conceptual framework for further research both within these particular organisations and for broader comparative purposes.

    The aim of this dissertation is to contribute with knowledge in two broad fields: (1) the role of Northern-based non-governmental development organisations and (2) the strategic and institutional processes that lead to changes in the organisational forms of these NGDOs.

    Keywords: non-governmental organisations; international development aid; food aid; food security; neo-institutionalism; resource dependency

    Effective start/end date01/02/200305/03/2008


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