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Why isn’t the humanitarian community united on reforming food aid?

Tom Paulson reported this week on a disagreement between aid groups on the Obama administration’s proposed common-sense reforms to the country’s food aid. The US is the largest food aid supplier in the world, routinely sending food overseas to humanitarian hotspots. But it does so in a remarkably outdated and inefficient way.

For this week’s podcast, we invited two humanitarian heavyweights to weigh in: World Vision (based in Federal Way, WA), which opposes the food aid reforms, and Oxfam, a supporter of the measures. World Vision told us they wanted to participate but reversed themselves at the last moment. So Tom spoke at length with Eric Munoz, a senior policy advisor based in Oxfam’s Washington D.C. office, and Jonathan Scanlon from the group’s Seattle office, about the issues.

We’re curious: What exactly is wrong with food aid right now? (Spoiler: the system was designed in the 1950s.) The harder question is, what should be changed? Who are the political constituencies involved and why are groups like World Vision opposed? And what are the prospects, realistically, for the reforms being encated? These questions have enormous implications for places like Haiti, Somalia, and so many others around the globe where American food aid is delivered.

But first we discuss the headlines, including China’s startling rates of cancer and the multi-trillion dollar economic cost of malnutrition. Tune in below.


About Author

Ansel Herz

Ansel Herz is a freelance multimedia journalist whose objective is to “go to where the silence is." His work has been published by ABC News, The Nation magazine, the New York Daily News, Al Jazeera English, Free Speech Radio News, Inter-Press News and many other publications. A Seattle native and survivor of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ansel is producer of Humanosphere's podcast, among other things. You can contact him at ansel.herz[at] or follow him on Twitter @Ansel.