Abstract

Improved support for the nutritional needs of refugees can best be achieved through strengthening refugees' existing livelihood and food acquisition strategies, recognizing their capacities to be economic agents and to meet their own needs. A priority would be removing the constraints on refugees of existing policies and systems of administration which often weaken refugees' access to resources and markets, especially through distorting population distribution (through camps) and by imposing numerous petty restrictions on activities. Application of economic concepts to food aid disbursement suggests that the distribution of cash, perhaps alongside programmes to maintain food in local markets, would be a better way to secure refugee entitlement. It is further argued that cash provision would reduce logistical burdens on agencies and have more developmental affects, although it also has its shortcomings. It is time for carefully monitored experimentation with such new approaches.

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