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This document, produced under a primer series on social safety nets, assesses the role of food aid in improving food availability and food access. It is based on a synthesis of experiences in four countries: India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Zambia. It concludes that food aid does not have to create negative impacts, particularly if it is tied to the development of infrastructure that supports production and market linkages, avoids creating negative price effects for food producers, and reaches the food insecure.