The Role of International Organisations, Governments and NGOs


The following page provides resources for three to four lessons on the role of international organisations, NGOs and different national governments in combattng food insecurity and disease. It uses a variety of in-depth resources, fact sheets, educational videos and exemplary material to examine the different roles. It addresses the interchanging and complex role of these different stakeholders and specifically examines the role of the EU and US.

Enquiry Question

How do international organisations, NGOs and governments influence diets and health?

Lesson Time: 3-4 Hours

Lesson Objectives:

  • To critically examine the roles of international governments, NGOs and National Governments in influencing and affecting diets and health
  • To specifically examine the roles of the UN, WFP, FAO and WHO
  • To specifically examine the roles of and issues in the USA and the EU

Teacher Notes:

Lesson 1 - Teacher Notes

Starter Activity_Power and Possibilities_Identifying stakeholders - Show students the diagram showing stakeholders and students should idenitfy those that have an impact on health and food security. There is a workseet for this.

1. SDGs_Processes and Possibilities_Give the students the worksheet of the SDGs and ask them to complete the gapfill for the titles for the goals. This could be done already without support if the goals have been already referred to or alternatively you could present the goals on the board and use it as map from memory exercise.

2. Reading Comprehension_Possibilities_Give students the text on the role of the UN and students can then:

Note: the idea is that the students come to understand the the goals will be come an important framwork for the work of different stakeholders. NGOs wil apply for investment through these goals.

  1. Identify the differences between the SDGs and the MDGs
  2. State how the SDGs will inform the policies and approaches of different interest groups including:
  • Governments
  • NGOs
  • Corporations
  • Service providers

3. Types of Food Aid_ Processes_Ask students to read the information on types of food aid and the statement from the WFP website. Students can complete the gapfill and identify the main ways the WFP attempts to alleviate hunger

4. WFP Focus Areas_Synthesis_Using the handout showing the WFP focus areas and students should identify how each factor links to diet and health

Note: It's important that students realise the close relationship between health and diet. Poor diet makes both children and adults more susceptible to disease and poor health.

5. WFP in Kenya _Places and Possibilities_Then students could use the the WFP fact sheet on Kenya identify the way the WFP is supporting the following groups:

Note: This could be done as a homework

  • The National Capacity
  • Refugees
  • Children
  • Households

6. Food Aid and Data_Processes and Synthesis - Present the nutritional data based on the work of the food aid information system and students should discuss how this type of information on food aid will improve diets in developing countries.

Note: this is very important later when we examine the type of food aid coming from the US

Lesson 2 - Teacher Notes

Starter Activity_ Synthesis_Ask the students to name the UN organizations involved with diet and health

1. FAO_Processes_You can then how students the introductory video from the FAO and students can identify:

  1. The key areas that the FAO work on
  2. A single sentence that you think sums up the FAO work

2. FAO in Ghana_Places and Processes_Introduce the role of the FAO in Accra, Ghana with street women and vending machines. Show the video and sk students to identify:

  1. Which group in Ghanaian society are street vendors
  2. The main challenges that they face

This can be followed up by reading the text based on the case study and students should identify:

  1. Why street vending is a growing economic opportunity
  2. The role of the FAO in supporting hygiene and nutrition among street vendors

Note: this example can be referred back to when looking at gender and food

3. Making an Infographic on WHO_Processes_ Students should use Pictochart to make an infographic on the role of the WHO to include the following:

  1. The WHO Mission
  2. The main focus areas of work
  3. It's links to the SDGs
  4. A map of where they work
  5. An example of a health based project

Note: This could be done as a homework

Lesson 3 _ The Role of Governments

4. The role of governments (EU)_Scale and Processes Give students the worksheet with question on the role of the EU and using the gallery with graphics from the EU aid interactive students should answer the questions

Then follow this up by reading the text on the EU food assistance toolbox and students can identify the different ways the EU supports food insecurity and diets.

5. Cash and Voucher Schemes_Scale and Processes_Then show the clip based on the EU's use of cash and vouchers for health and diet benefits. Students can make notes on:

  1. How money is transferred to people
  2. The benefits of this type of transfer

Note: The EU has moved away from the supply of stockpiles of food aid towards decoupled payments and local procurement of aid. This contrasts with the USA.

6. The role of Governments (US) Scale and Processes_Using the worksheet provided and the gallery of graphs showing change in US aid students can answer the questions on the sheet.

Note: The main focus in the first graph being emergency aid and the main focus in the second being type II programme aid (based largely on US stockpiles)

7. Video Comprehension_Processes and Possibilities_Student can then watch the important video from Rhiz Khan which shows the discussion about  the quality of food aid from the US. Students cna answer the questions.

You can follow this up with a more general discussion on why the US continues to provide this type of aid.

Lesson 4 - Food and Health Issues in the EU (and west)

Starter Activity_Processes_Discuss how students consider the health and diet issues to be different in the EU to that in developing countries

1. EU Diets_Synthesis_Show the students the the gallery of images. This can be done as a slower paced activity or as a flash slide shows with a maximum of 5 seconds for each slide. However I think the former would be best as we are looking for a more in-depth discussion on the types of diet and health problems that exist in the EU and the role of the government.

Students can make notes on each slide

2. Video Comprehension _Synthesis and Possibilities_Show students the newsnight (for now) on the differences between Obama care and the new Trump equivalent.  Students can then read the handout on different types of health care systems. Students can discuss which of the health care systems best fits the USA.

Note: Depending on who you are, your age and your level of income and employment status the US health care system has features of al four types.

3. Student Assessment - Exam Questions - Students can then focus on types of exam questions and attempt two of the questions provided

Starter Activity - Power and Possibilities -The Map of Aid Players

Study the PDF below showing the map of global aid players.

  1. From the map identify the main stakeholders who have an influence on health and food security in terms of humanitarian aid.
  2. What linkages do you think exist between them?

Map of Aid Players

Student Activity-Processes and Possibilities -The Role of the UN

  1. How well do you know the Sustainable Development Goals?
  2. Which of the goals relate to diets and health?

Sustainable Development

Student Task - Possibilities - What's the Role of the UN SDGs?

Read the following text adapted from the online article by Nadia Kähkönen for Triple Pundit

  1. Identify the differences between the SDGs and the MDGs
  2. State how the SDGs will inform the policies and approaches of different interest groups including:
  • Governments
  • NGOs
  • Corporations
  • Service providers


    17 Goals to Rule Them All: How the SDGs Can Benefit Organizations

    Committed to by world leaders at the UN Summit in New York, the 17 proposed goals and 169 targets aim to be a charter for people and the planet in the twenty-first century. Debated by civil society and UN member states for more than two years, the goals will stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance to building a more equitable and sustainable world for all.

    The aim of the SDGs is ambitious: End extreme poverty; fight inequality and injustice; fix climate change. In all countries, for all people. The goals come not a moment too soon: Climate change is rapidly becoming the greatest threat to poverty eradication and negatively affecting sustainable development efforts. If action is not taken to cut emissions and support communities to adapt to the changes, its impacts will only increase.

    Ultimately, the SDGs will affect organizations and institutions of all shapes and sizes, from the European Union to municipalities and corporations, and engagement from a wide scale of actors will be crucial in shaping the future agenda. The playing field and the adoption of the SDGs marks a new era for both the public and private sector to deepen and broaden their sustainability efforts. In comparison to their predecessors, the SDGs are much broader and more difficult to measure. However, they represent a bold move towards a more ambitious, yet more realistic and inclusive development agenda – a golden opportunity for governments, private enterprise and civil society to work together in tackling the biggest challenges on the planet.

    Where the agenda of the predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals, was centred around actions by governments, the SDGs seek to involve a diverse range of actors – including, crucially, a more prominent role for the private sector.

    Contributing to the SDG agenda can enhance one’s own goals and aspirations as an organization.  For the private sector, the SDGs can provide a more focused direction on how to boost the quality of sustainability goals, position them as commitments, and better communicate them in a credible and meaningful manner. Not to mention improving standards and mitigating risks along the supply chain. By striving to better integrate sustainability in its operation, Ikea has sparked transformational change in the market for commodities, namely cotton, and a more efficient use of resources within its own supply chain. Partnering with the Better Cotton Initiative, Ikea not only improved the livelihoods of 43,000 farmers in South Asia, but also significantly reduced the amounts of costly artificial fertilizers it used. This is inspiring news for anyone operating in the textile industry where pesticides and chemicals can account for up to 60 percent of farming costs, and where forecasts see production costs increasing as conventional cotton farming becomes more water and chemical intensive.

    In the public realm, the SDGs can create a fine opportunity for goal-oriented policies that will improve the quality of democratic practices around the world. The SDGs are also likely to spur growth in the Results-based Financing model, in which a “payer” (a government, international donor, or a foundation for example) conditions its payment to a service provider (a private company or a NGO for example) on desired outcomes. Results-based financing bears great potential to improve the efficiency and quality of public services (and development aid in general) through a greater private sector involvement and other benefits such as reduced corruption. Carbon markets are currently the biggest and most prominent form of Results-Based Financing within the realm of sustainable development. The lessons learned in carbon markets over the last 15 years, will play an important role in helping to expand this experience to other SDGs.

    Student Activity - Processes - Types of Food Aid

    Read the following information and complete the gap fill on your worksheet

    WFP Types of Aid

    Program : subsidized deliveries of food to a central government that subsequently sells the food and uses the proceeds for whatever purpose (not necessarily food assistance).  Program food aid provides budgetary and balance of payments relief for recipient governments.

    Project : provides support to field-based projects in areas of chronic need through deliveries of food (usually free) to a government or NGO that either uses it directly (e.g., Food For Work, MCH, school feeding) or monetizes it, using the proceeds for project activities. Increasingly cash-voucher schemes are being used by NGOs.

    Emergency/Humanitarian: deliveries of free food to GO/NGO agencies responding to crisis due to natural disaster or conflict.

    Student Activity _Synthesis_The Role of the World Food Program (WFP)

    Read the following statement from the WFP website and identify how they see their role in alleviating hunger

    In more than half a century of humanitarian engagement, we have learned that fighting hunger is not a straightforward proposition. It requires collective action on various levels, aimed at various groups, drawing on various contexts and including various stakeholders. We have learned that fighting hunger involves not just delivering food, but also transferring cash; not just transferring cash, but transferring knowledge; not knowledge in a void, but knowledge that makes local sense; and not just knowledge we own, but knowledge derived from conversations of equals.

    The diversity of national settings, the gradations of peace and conflict, a changing climate and the complexity of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development all dictate that the World Food Programme (WFP)’s offer must be subtly calibrated, made up of an expanding range of tools and approaches. Used singly or in combination, always tailored and never identical, these tools and approaches express our current thinking about the best way to achieve Zero Hunger.

    Student Activity _Places and Possibilities_The Main Focus of the WFP

    1. Using the worksheet provided identify for each focus area of the WFP one link to diets and one link to health.
    2. Using the the WFP factsheet on Kenya identify the way the WFP is supporting the following groups:
    • The National Capacity
    • Refugees
    • Children
    • Households

    WFP Worksheet

    WFP Factsheet Kenya

    Student Activity_Processes and Synthesis_Nutrition Analysis by the WFP

    One of the ways of assessing the fight against hunger is monitoring global food aid flows. New indicators are now available to better understand the nutritional content of these flows

    Study the graph below based on the nutritional content of food aid into Ethiopia and explain how this measurement improves diets in developing countries

    Source: WFP - IRMA Analysis (IRMA - Individual Requirements Met on Average)

    Student Activity - Processes -The Role of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)

    Watch the following clip from the FAO and identify:

    1. Some key areas that the FAO work on
    2. A single sentence that you think sums up the FAO work

    Student Activity _Places and Processes_ The FAO Supporting Street Vendors in Accra, Ghana

    Introduce the example with the following clip from the FAO and students should identify:

    1. Which group in Ghanaian society are street vendors
    2. The main challenges that they face

    Student Activity - Power and Possibilities - Women's Business

    Read the following extract from the FAO and identify:

    1. Why street vending is a growing economic opportunity
    2. The role of the FAO in supporting hygiene and nutrition among street vendors

    Extract from the FAO on street vending in Accra, Ghana

    Women’s business
    The stories of Comfort, Esther, and Hamida are commonplace across Africa, where the selling of street food has proliferated in the last 35 years, mainly due to urbanization and its effects.

    On the one hand, increased commuting distances and fast urban living have driven demand for easily accessible ready-to-eat and cheap food among African urban dwellers.

    On the other hand, the labour market has become more competitive, meaning marginalized social groups such as women and ethnic minorities struggle to find jobs because of lack of education and professional skills. For these people, self-employment often becomes the only way to earn a living.

    As street food vending requires little start-up capital and no formal education, it represents an ideal opportunity for women. With their cooking skills and kitchen utensils and the help of unpaid family members – in particular young daughters and sisters – it is one of the easiest ways for them to be self-employed. And this is the main reason why women dominate the street food vending business in most of Africa, apart from in countries where women’s economic activities are restricted.

    Nutritious and safe street food
    The FAO study in Accra has highlighted how street food vendors tend to operate in poorer areas of the city and near schools, meaning many poor children rely on them for nutrition. Thankfully, the overall hygiene and safety conditions under which street food is prepared in Accra have proven to be of an acceptable standard. This is despite street food vendors not being subject to food controls by public authorities.

    Regardless, vendors have shown a real improvement in knowledge of hygiene, safety standards, food handling, and storage in recent years. Factors contributing to the improvement include rising levels of education and increased collaboration between local authorities and FAO.

    In 2012-13, FAO teamed up with the Ghana Food and Drug Authority to conduct successful capacity building sessions on handling and storage for selected food vendors. These sessions dealt with challenges such as poor infrastructure and lack of fresh water. More recently, in 2016, FAO trained 14 research assistants from the School of Public Health of the University of Ghana in “Mobile-Based Data Collection for Monitoring Street Food Vending in Urban Areas”. This training laid a great foundation in digital data collection techniques and methodology for Ghana’s future national food inspectors.

    Finally, on the back of awareness campaigns targeting the general public, Ghana’s consumers have also become more knowledgeable and demanding, forcing vendors to adopt improved practices and higher hygiene standards to satisfy ever greater public scrutiny.

    Student Activity  - Processes - Making an Infographic for the World Health Organization (WHO)

    Students should use Piktochart to make an infographic on the WHO to include:

    1. The WHO mission
    2. The main focus areas of work
    3. It's links to the SDGs
    4. A map of where they work
    5. An example of a health based project

    Click on the logo to go to the Piktochart help page for support. Piktochart requires you to log in and to create an account.

    Student Activities - Scale and Processes - The Role of Governments in Humanitarian Aid

    1. Using the gallery below on EU humanitarian aid answer the questions on the worksheet provided

    EU Toolbox

    2. Read the following text that explains the EU's Food Assistance Toolbox and identify the different ways the EU supports diets

    The EU's food assistance ‘toolbox’ offers many ways of safeguarding availability, access and consumption of safe and nutritious food at every stage of an emergency:

    Before - In the months before a crisis when markets are still well stocked and functioning, it can be more effective and cheaper to provide cash or vouchers, rather than food. Doing this allows beneficiaries to buy food according to their individual needs, protect their livelihoods and boost the local economy.

    During – Depending on the nature of the crisis, little food may be available in local markets during the crises themselves. In this case, it may be necessary to provide food commodities directly. If food is available, cash interventions are preferred to ensure access to basic needs, including food.

    After - In other contexts, people can best be helped by protecting or supporting their existing livelihood activities (e.g. farming, livestock herding). This can be done, for example, by providing seeds and tools, or by delivering veterinary care, which allows people to continue to feed themselves and their families.

    Ongoing – In places where acute undernutrition is widespread, the priority is to treat acutely undernourished children, and at the same time preventing other children and vulnerable people from becoming acutely undernourished.

    However, to find real long-term solutions, undernutrition needs to be addressed from different angles and through a wider approach, for example by reducing public health risks by ensuring access to safe water or by improving mothers' knowledge and awareness about their children's health and nutritional needs.

    Student Activity - Scale and Processes - The EU and Cash-Voucher Schemes

    Watch the following clip based on the EU's use of cash and vouchers for health and diet benefits. Make notes on:

    1. How money is transferred to people
    2. The benefits of this type of transfer

    Student Activity- Scale and Processes - USAID

    Using the PDF worksheet answer the questions based in the graphics

    Examining US Food Aid

    Student Activity - Processes and Possibilities - Is US Food Aid Impacting Malnutrition?

    Watch the clip (from 06.30) from Rhiz Khan and answer the questions on the sheet provided

    Now read the following FP The Great American Food Aid Boondoggle

    Student Activity - Synthesis - Food Issues and Diets in the EU

    Study the following gallery and identify the food and health issues relating to diets in the EU

    For each image discuss the role of national governments as well as the EU in

    Student Activity - Synthesis and Possibilities - Types of Government Health Care Systems

    Watch the Youtube clip that explains Obamacare in the USA

    Read the handout on types of government health care systems and discuss which type of health care system the USA follows.

    Types of Care Systems

    Types of Government Health Care

    The Beverage Model

    Named after William Beveridge, the social reformer who designed Britain’s National Health Service. In this system, health care is provided and financed by the government through tax payments. This system tends to have low costs per capita, because the government, as the sole payer, controls what doctors can do and what they can charge.

    Countries using the Beveridge plan or variations on it include Great Britain, Spain, most of Scandinavia and New Zealand. Cuba represents the extreme application of the Beveridge approach; it is probably the world’s purest example of total government control.

    The Bismarck Model

    Named for the Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck it uses an insurance system — the insurers are called “sickness funds” — usually financed jointly by employers and employees through payroll deduction.

    Unlike the U.S. insurance industry, though, Bismarck-type health insurance plans have to cover everybody, and they don’t make a profit. Tight regulation gives government much of the cost-control clout that the single-payer Beveridge Model provides.

    The Bismarck model is found in Germany, of course, and France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan, Switzerland, and, to a degree, in Latin America.

    The National Health Insurance Model

    This system has elements of both Beveridge and Bismarck. It uses private-sector providers, but payment comes from a government-run insurance program that every citizen pays into. Since there’s no need for marketing, no financial motive to deny claims and no profit, these universal insurance programs tend to be cheaper and much simpler administratively than American-style for-profit insurance.

    The single payer tends to have considerable market power to negotiate for lower prices. The classic NHI system is found in Canada, but some newly industrialized countries — Taiwan and South Korea, for example — have also adopted the NHI model.

    The Out of Pocket Model

    Most of the nations on the planet are too poor and too disorganized to provide any kind of mass medical care. As a result there is great inequality in provision. In rural regions of Africa, India, China and South America, hundreds of millions of people go their whole lives without ever seeing a doctor. Patients and their families are required to scratch together enough money to pay a doctor bill. If they have nothing, they don’t get medical care

    Source: Adapted from

    Student Assessment - Exam Questions Planning

    Students should prepare at least 2 detailed plans for the following questions. Use the planning sheets to support the task

    1. Compare the work of the FAO and the WFP in alleviating hunger (6)
    2. Discuss the relative importance of different stakeholders in influencing diets (10)
    3. Explain the role of one international organization in its efforts to combat disease (6)
    4. Discuss the role of governments in terms of improving diets (10)
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