Speeding Food Relief in International Disasters: The Potential Contribution of Technology
We return to the problem of food, and again to the tension between the mentalities of those who espouse relief and those who advocate development. The immunity of the major grain shippers from public scrutiny is only equalled by the splendid obscurity that the oil companies enjoyed before the 1973 crisis. For this reason among others, Mitchel Wallerstein concludes that the cost of setting up a food surveillance system to parallel the “safety net” created for oil after the 1973 energy crisis would be prohibitive. Even for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) — the largest and best-equipped relief organization in history — food, with its relatively inelastic demand curve, largely escaped international controls. Thus, Wallerstein concludes as does Michael Doyle, that ultimately the only satisfactory solution to the problem of providing food in disaster-prone countries is local reserves, preferably supplied by local agriculture, though an intermediate stage may well be required during which governments of major grain-producing states and regions would set aside food for international reserves.
KeywordsDisaster Relief Food Assistance Coast Guard Bulk Carrier World Food Programme
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