Sunday, July 13, 2008

Learning time - Bolsena, Italy

So really, what am I here to learn?

A few people have emailed and asked for some more information about the course and the information I’m diving into here. You have all heard of the Global Food Crisis. If you haven’t – pick up a newspaper, or look online. Prices are rising, food stocks are declining and the most vulnerable populations (the poorest households) are already feeling the crunch. In North America you can hear the complaints that prices are rising, and some foods are already out of reach of the poorer segments of the population. In Africa the crunch is already more pronounced. As an example, in a country like Niger, the increases in food prices is leading to serious food insecurity (meaning lack of food and lack of safety net that they will be able to afford/find food). In the past month, the cost of tomatoes, a staple, has doubled. Many seasonal foods have disappeared (goodbye most fruits- hello a diet of mangoes!). Sacks of rice have gone up 30%, and corn and maize and millet aren’t far behind. So how do you design programs that really work when the whole world is feeling the effects of this? Well, here is a bit of an except for those of you who wanted to know, and the schedule of what I’m going to be tackling for the next two weeks. I leave for Bolsena tomorrow morning and I am not sure if I will update this for the next few weeks. If we have wireless I will, otherwise not.

Here is the website of where I will based at. Check it out!


This course will explore the dynamics of the use of food aid, the largest single component of humanitarian emergencies. It will review policies that guide the use of food aid, as principal controversies surrounding the use of food aid in emergency and transition settings. The course will also explore assessment techniques used to gauge the vulnerability of affected populations and their needs for food based interventions, as well as explore the food aid management system and its logistics. The course will be held in and around Rome, Italy. Field visits will be conducted to the principal UN Agencies involved in food aid (such as the WFP and the FAO) as well as diplomatic missions that determine food aid policies.

Rome was chosen as the site for this course because it is the home of the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The WFP is the food aid arm of the UN and is dedicated to meeting emergency needs and supporting economic and social development through food aid. The FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger in both the developed and developing world and is the largest of all UN agencies. The course draws from these resources for fieldtrips and teaching speakers (and makes for some great networking and resource people!)

Here is what I’m going to learn deeper:

Food Aid as a tool for food security
The logistic requirements of a food aid project
Information requirements of a food aid project

Here is what I will do everyday. Follow along!

July 14
AM- Orientation and Introduction
PM- Food Aid and Humanitarian Response: An Overview and review
July 15
AM- Food Aid in HIV Context
PM- Indicators Used in Emergency Assessments/
Policy Background for Food-Oriented Interventions: The Role
of the Rome Agencies
Lab- TDI data: Data quality assessment, exploration, data cleaning
July 16
AM-Food Security Programming: Activities and Program Cycle
PM- Food Aid Used in Nutrition Programs
Local purchase, cash-like and cash transfer management
Lab- Calculate six quantitative indicators
July 17
AM- Non-food Logistics for Food Aid
PM- Call Forward- AER, ocean transport, USDA
Role of Markets in Emergencies
Lab- Design and propose a Food Aid Project
July 18
AM- Group Presentations:
Chronic and transitory food insecurity
Non-food responses to food insecurity
PM-Trends affecting the future of food aid
Food Security Information Systems
Lab: Logistics/commodities assessment
July 19
Excursion to Orvieto, Italy
Meet with the representative of Slow Food
EU policies on food safety, role of HACCP in food security
Visits to sale point with DOC products
July 20
Free Day (woohoo!)
July 21
AM- FAO response in emergencies
PM- Food Aid management: Ports and security, surveyors
Warehouse management, reconstitution, and destruction
Lab- Annual Estimate of Requirements – how to do it.
July 22
AM- Geographic and Beneficiary Targeting
PM- Distributions and beneficiary tracking
Assessments, needs assessment, institutional assessment
Lab- Develop a presentation of your analysis, food aid project and
logistic plan results
July 23
Visit and meet with United Nations World Food Program
July 24
AM- Meeting with US Mission to UN Agencies in Rome
PM- Meetings with Representatives of IFAD
July 25
Day at United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot

On this basis, the student (that’s me!) will propose a food security intervention. A presentation of the analysis and a presentation of the plan for the intervention will be included. Students are expected to complete the following tasks as part of the lab requirement:
o Task 1: Data cleaning, quality assessment, and exploration
o Task 2: Calculate 6 quantitative indicators
o Task 3: Design a food security intervention
o Task 4: Develop a logistics/commodities plan
o Task 5: Develop an Annual Estimated Requirements request based on plan
o Task 6: Present your analysis and present your food security intervention

And, as an added bonus once this course is done I get to do this!:
Position Paper on the use of Food Aid in Humanitarian Settings (600 level grad students only)
required to submit an additional paper on the use of food aid in humanitarian settings.

So there you have it. I rejoice in that this is the FINAL CLASS to complete my Master’s Degree, and while it is a daunting task, I couldn’t have picked a more perfect one for Niger. Please pray for me during these intensive days and weeks that I will be able to remain focused, not miss Paul and the kids too much that I’m distracted, soak up all the information possible, plan a good project specific to Niger and make the most of private meetings. You walk with me even through this. Thanks.


NIGER1.COM said...

my email is

phx said...

You are amazing!!! Thanks for opening my eyes!

Anonymous said...

What a daunting schedule. I hope you get time to eat and sleep :). Love,hugs & prayers - heather

Ron said...

This is very much the language of what the foodgrains bank is all about. Glad you can be there to gain these concepts.
Very proud of you!

andrea.kyle said...

This course outline leaves me wanting to go back to school for another masters degree just so I can take these kinds of courses. We only just scratched the surface of the things we could talk about together when you were here before you left... more conversation for another time. Thinking of you often... A