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Mitigating the Nutritional Impacts of the Global Food Price Crisis: Workshop Summary
or because they merely wanted to preserve their own survival is an unanswered question.
Realizing the implications of rising food prices, many governments instituted food subsidies, imposed price controls, restricted exports, and cut import duties. Some governments increased cash transfers to the hungry, and in some cases there was limited use of feeding and nutrition programs due to their prohibitive costs.
Ministries of health are especially linked with nutrition programs. Many work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to target the vulnerable and severely malnourished, especially children, and provide food rations. Ministries of agriculture are also involved in mitigating the impacts of the global food crisis. These ministries develop long-term strategies to boost agricultural production. In some countries, ministries of agriculture provide subsidies and incentives to farmers and importers of food grains. Ministries of finance have begun temporarily lifting taxes and tariffs on agricultural imports. They can combat the negative effects of the food crisis by redesigning their countries’ budgets to meet the new demands of the current emergency.
What Countries Need
Many poor countries cannot manage the effects of food shortages on their own. International organizations need to become involved. Due to safety concerns, such organizations do not engage in places where violence and riots are a reality. When possible, country governments should partner with international organizations to increase targeted programs to the poor and vulnerable; the priority needs to be addressing the emergencies of starvation and destitution. Countries need technical assistance in dealing with these types of emergency situations. The media plays a key role in informing and engaging the global community. In this way, the media can be an ally to country governments when provided with accurate information about the country-specific situation.
Developing countries need to take early warnings seriously. In Kenya, for example, government officials know that crops have failed and that there will likely be no rain for the next 6 months. Yet the government is not acting on this information. The capacity of government officials in developing countries need to be built. Officials need to be empowered to use the information at hand to make life better for their citizens.
At this time, in order to cushion the poor and the vulnerable, technical support is badly needed in dealing with the food price and economic crises. The ministries of health, agriculture, and finance need new skills to deal with emerging problems such as climate change and rising food and fuel prices. It is imperative that government officials begin to recognize and analyze gender dimensions. The