Food aid comes a cropper

Published: Wednesday 15 August 2007

the central government's food assistance schemes haven't worked. The 61st round of the National Sample Survey Organisation (nsso) report on Public Distribution System and Other Sources of Household Consumption, 2004-05, shows that only 28 per cent of the rural poor have benefited from any such scheme. For urban areas, the figure is at 9.5 per cent. The worst hit are the poorest who own less than 0.1 hectare. For them, most schemes haven't worked.

The aim of such schemes was to reduce food insecurity among the poor and to target malnutrition among children. And these have been in place for long. For instance, Food for Work (ffw) and Annapoorna have existed since 2000 and Integrated Child Development Scheme (icds) since 1975.ffw has been replaced by National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2006 and the others, including Midday Meal, continue. Given that the funds allocated for the Midday Meal Scheme is Rs 7,324 crore and budgetary allocation under icds have been increased from Rs 4,087 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 4,761 crores in 2007-08, the survey report presents a dismal picture.

According to the report, the Midday Meal scheme benefited children from 22.8 per cent rural households, compared to icds that could reach 5.7 per cent households, ffw 2.7 per cent and Annapoorna, a measly 0.9 per cent.

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