When I was a little kid, my sister (who never ate her vegetables) used to wish aloud at the dinner table that she could send her broccoli to Africa, where the kids really need it.
At the time, I liked to think of myself as not quite so naive — I knew we couldn’t literally send our vegetables to Africa. It would taste really bad by the time it got there.
Yes, shipping leftovers probably isn’t a best practice in terms of humanitarian food aid. But what about food security? And malnutrition prevention and mitigation? And ready-to-use therapeutic food?
Asking questions like these is absolutely essential in better understanding the complexities of humanitarian work. It’s also why we’re continuing with our expert interview series — in which you have the opportunity to ask your questions to aid professionals. Our first post on this topic was “Ask an aid worker about the Horn of Africa” with World Vision’s Betsy Baldwin. In this second installment, I’d like to introduce you to Paul Macek.
Paul is the senior director of food security and livelihoods team. He leads a team of specialized program officers who focus on food security, livelihoods, economic development, nutrition, agriculture, and environment.
A typical day for staff on his team includes meetings about food aid programs with colleagues, World Vision partners, and donors. His role also includes conducting field assessments of our food programs around the world.
Paul has degrees in history and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master of Arts in international affairs with concentrations in international development and political economy from American University in Washington, D.C. Paul joined World Vision U.S. in 2009 after serving for 14 years in various capacities with Catholic Relief Services in Africa.
When Paul agreed to be our interviewee, he also told me, “Food aid can be an extremely effective means to saving lives and building sustainable livelihoods — but food aid is just one tool within a wider food security approach that focuses on economic development and improving agricultural productivity and practices.”
Ask Paul your questions about food aid by leaving them in the comments section. Remember, the point is to ask questions that will help us better understand food aid and its relation to humanitarian aid work.
On Tuesday, we’ll pick the top six or seven questions and give them to Paul for his response. (And if you like someone else’s question, leave a reply saying so. That way, we can get a sense of what questions are of most interest to you.)
Look for Paul’s answers and responses this Friday, just in time for World Food Day, October 16!