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Emergency food aid challenges in natural and man-made disasters: A systematic review

Shandiz Moslehi, PhD, Farin Fatemi, PhD, Samira Soleimanpour, MSc


Background: Emergency food aid is the most essential response of the international community to natural disasters and complex emergencies. The humanitarian aid organizations sometimes have been encountered with different challenges during the feeding process to target groups.

Objective: The aim of this article is to review the food aid challenges in receiving countries of humanitarian food assistance during disasters and emergencies.

Methods: This systematic review was conducted in August 2019, and the search was limited to published evidence before July 1, 2019. Through this systematic review, the international electronic databases such as PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, ProQuest, and Google Scholar were investigated for the studies published in English. The articles were assessed based on title, abstract, and full text by Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tools. Then, descriptive and thematic analyses were done to extract the most relevant food challenges in recipient countries of humanitarian food assistance.

Results: A total of 179 studies were found. Of which, 34 and 118 were excluded because of duplication and quality appraisal, respectively. Finally, 27 eligible articles and reports were included in this study, and 30 main challenges were determined during the international humanitarian food assistance in receiving countries. The challenges were categorized in seven main category of availability (two subcategories), access (six subcategories), utilization (three subcategories), coordination and collaboration (eight subcategories), political and legal issues (three subcategories), monitoring and assessment (six subcategories), and human rights (two subcategories).

Conclusion: The most repeated challenges were related to access and monitoring. Most of the extracted food aid challenges allocated to time after occurring the disasters. Regarding to the result of this study, further research should be conducted to suggest the practical approaches for solving the mentioned challenges and increase the effectiveness of such aids.


food aid, challenges, humanitarian organizations, humanitarian assistance, disasters, humanitarian settings

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