Food Security

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 227–238 | Cite as

Aid or abyss? Food assistance programs (FAPs), food security and livelihoods in Humla, Nepal

  • Yograj GautamEmail author
  • Peter Andersen
Original Paper


Over two thirds of the world’s poorest and most food-insecure people live in developing countries. Since Food Assistance Programs (FAPs) are the most commonly applied food security interventions in these countries, their effective management remains a shared concern in development policies. In addition to addressing short-term relief needs, FAPs have also been funding integrated rural development projects. This paper assesses how FAPs are operationalized in terms of food aid distribution among people in different social and economic strata in Nepal. In addition, it also explores micro-level institutional, technical and geographical factors that influence the implementation of FAPs based community projects in order to analyze their potential efficiency in stimulating local development. Results suggest that FAPs do bring certain benefits, for instance helping to reduce household food deficits as well as acting as a safety net for poorer households, by reducing their reliance on debt as a means of securing food. However, they also suggest that the provision of food by FAPs is not equitable in view of intra-community socio-economic variations and food security needs. Households belonging to the high caste and thus enjoying better food security conditions were found to exploit their political and social networks in order to acquire a disproportionately higher amount of food assistance. Furthermore, the community projects also failed to attract effective local participation which, in turn, led them to becoming incompatible with the needs, priorities and capacities of local communities. From the perspective of ‘targeting’, we conclude that the continuation of FAPs in their existing modalities mostly maintain the status quo, and can even have the effect of exacerbating local inequalities.


Food aid Food security Participation Karnali Nepal 



We extend our sincere acknowledgement to Meltzer’s Fund, University of Bergen for providing financial support to the first author to conduct the fieldwork. We acknowledge three anonymous reviewers and Keshav Prasad Paudel for their critical comments on the manuscript. Thanks to Tom Robson for fixing language errors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all the individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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