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Food Aid Convention: operations in 2011/12

Under the Food Aid Convention, 1999 (FAC)1 donors pledge to provide annually specified minimum amounts of food aid. The objective of the Convention is to contribute to world food security and to improve the ability of the international community to respond to emergency food situations and other food needs, ensuring that food assistance is directed to the alleviation of poverty and hunger, particularly of the most vulnerable groups. This includes food purchased locally and regionally, therefore promoting agricultural development and strengthening regional and local markets in developing countries. Many of the FAC operations are channelled by donors through the World Food Programme (WFP) and other agencies.

In 2011/12, FAC operations totalled 5.7 million tons (m t)2. While this represents a 4% decline from the previous year, it is again in excess of the members’ combined annual minimum commitment of 5.4m t3 . As in previous years, the bulk of food aid provided under the FAC was supplied in response to emergency situations and protracted relief operations, especially to countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounted for 66% of the total, compared to 56% the previous year. The share of shipments to Far East Asia declined to 22%from last year’s unusually high 31%, and is now broadly in line with the previous five-year average. As was the case last year, Ethiopia was by far the largest recipient, followed by Sudan, Kenya, Chad and Somalia. In Asia, the largest operations were undertaken in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, while in Central America, Haiti was also once again a major recipient of aid under the Convention.

The composition of FAC donations has changed significantly over the years, with non-grain items, including pulses, other food products and seeds, taking an increasingly higher share. However, more recently, this trend has been reversed, and the combined share of grains has moderately risen, reaching 57% in 2011/12, up slightly from the previous year’s 56%.

Vegetable oils and pulses accounted for a significant proportion of donations. Other products provided by donors in 2011/12 included various meals, soyabeans, seeds, a number of blended foods and several products that are components of the traditional diet of vulnerable groups or supplementary feeding programmes. There were also sizable donations of micronutrients and iodised salt.

Transport costs, expressed as a percentage of the total spent on FAC operations, amounted to almost 40%, broadly unchanged from the previous year, adding US$1.4bn to the cost of the food aid provided. Transportation and related logistics, especially with respect to landlocked countries and complex emergency response operations, continued to present substantial challenges to the donor community.

The full report on FAC food aid operations in 2011/12 by FAC members and reports from previous years are available online at Information on the Food Assistance Convention and reports (the first report is envisaged to be published in mid-2014) is also made available online at

1/ The Food Aid Convention is administered by the Food Aid Committee, using the services of the IGC Secretariat. In December 2010, members agreed to begin the formal process of renegotiating the Convention with immediate effect, with a view to providing appropriate and effective food assistance to vulnerable populations in response to needs. A new Food Assistance Convention was adopted in London on 25 April 2012. It was opened for signature on 11 June 2012 and came into effect on 1 January 2013.
2/ Wheat equivalent.
3/ Including the estimated tonnage of value commitments.

Last revised: Monday 24 October 2013

At the 106th session of the Food aid Committee members agreed not to extend the Food Aid Convention, 1999. Accordingly, this Convention expired on 30 June 2012. On 1st January 2013, a new Food Assistance Convention came into effect, details of which can be found at
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