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Testimony: 

Before the Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Agriculture, 
Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, 
House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 1:00 p.m. EST:
Thursday, March 11, 2010: 

Global Food Security: 

Progress toward a U.S. Governmentwide Strategy Is Under Way, but 
Approach Has Several Vulnerabilities: 

Statement of Thomas Melito, Director: 
International Affairs and Trade Team: 

GAO-10-494T: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-10-494T, a testimony to the Chairwoman, Subcommittee 
on Agriculture, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Global hunger continues to worsen despite world leaders’ 1996 pledge—
reaffirmed in 2000 and 2009—to halve hunger by 2015. To reverse this 
trend, in 2009 major donor countries pledged about $22.7 billion in a 
3-year commitment to agriculture and food security in developing 
countries, of which $3.5 billion is the U.S. share. This testimony 
addresses (1) the types and funding of food security programs and 
activities of relevant U.S. government agencies and (2) progress in 
developing an integrated U.S. governmentwide strategy to address 
global food insecurity and the strategy’s potential vulnerabilities. 
This is based on a new GAO report being released at today’s hearing 
(GAO-10-352). 

What GAO Found: 

The U.S. government supports a wide variety of programs and activities 
for global food security, but lacks readily available comprehensive 
data on funding. In response to GAO’s data collection instrument to 10 
agencies, 7 agencies reported such funding for global food security in 
fiscal year 2008 (see figure below) based on the working definition 
GAO developed for this exercise with agency input. USAID and USDA 
reported the broadest array of programs and activities, while USAID, 
the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Treasury, USDA, and State 
reported providing the highest levels of funding for global food 
security. The 7 agencies together directed at least $5 billion in 
fiscal year 2008 to global food security, with food aid accounting for 
about half of that funding. However, the actual total is likely 
greater. GAO’s estimate does not account for all U.S. government funds 
targeting global food insecurity because the agencies lack (1) a 
commonly accepted governmentwide operational definition of global food 
security programs and activities as well as reporting requirements to 
routinely capture data on all relevant funds, and (2) data management 
systems to track and report food security funding comprehensively and 
consistently. 

Figure: Funding by agency, fiscal year 2008: 

[Refer to PDF for image: horizontal bar graph and accompanying data] 

Agency: USAID: 
Funding: $2,510 million. 

Agency: MCC: 
Funding: $912 million. 

Agency: Treasury: 
Funding: $817 million. 

Agency: USDA: 
Funding: $540 million. 

Agency: State: 
Funding: $168 million. 

Agency: USTDA: 
Funding: $9 million. 

Agency: DOD: 
Funding: $8 million. 

Agency: Peace Corps: 
Funding: None reported. 

Agency: USTR: 
Funding: None reported. 

Agency: OMB: 
Funding: None reported. 

National Security Council Interagency Policy Committee on Agriculture 
and Food Security: 
* National Security Council; 
* Department of State; 
* U.S. Agency for International Development; 
* Central Intelligence Agency; 
* Department of Commerce; 
* Department of Defense; 
* Department of Labor; 
* Department of the Treasury; 
* Executive Office of the President; 
* Export-Import Bank; 
* Millennium Challenge Corporation; 
* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; 
* Office of Management and Budget; 
* Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; 
* Office of the Vice President; 
* Overseas Private Investment Corporation; 
* Peace Corps; 
* U.S. Department of Agriculture; 
* U.S. Trade and Development Agency. 

Interagency coordination mechanisms have been established between 
National Security Council Interagency Policy Committee on Agriculture 
and Food Security and State-Led Global Hunger and Food Security 
Initiative Working Team. 

State-Led Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative Working Team: 
* Department of State; 
* Department of the Treasury; 
* Millennium Challenge Corporation; 
* Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; 
* U.S. Agency for International Development; 
* U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Source: GAO analysis of the agencies’ responses to the data collection 
instrument and program documents. 

[End of figure] 

The administration is making progress toward finalizing a 
governmentwide global food security strategy—expected to be released 
shortly—but its efforts are vulnerable to data weaknesses and risks 
associated with the strategy’s host country-led approach. The 
administration has established interagency coordination mechanisms at 
headquarters (see figure above) and is finalizing an implementation 
document and a results framework. However, the lack of comprehensive 
data on programs and funding levels may deprive decision makers of 
information on available resources and a firm baseline against which 
to plan. Furthermore, the host country-led approach, although 
promising, is vulnerable to (1) the weak capacity of host governments, 
which can limit their ability to sustain donor-funded efforts; (2) a 
shortage of expertise in agriculture and food security at U.S. 
agencies that could constrain efforts to help strengthen host 
government capacity; and (3) policy differences between host 
governments and donors, including the United States, may complicate 
efforts to align donor interventions with host government strategies. 

What GAO Recommends: 

The related GAO report recommends that the Secretary of State (1) 
develop an operational definition of food security that is accepted by 
all U.S. agencies and establish a methodology for reporting 
comprehensive data across agencies; and (2) collaborate with other 
agency heads to finalize a governmentwide strategy that delineates 
measures to mitigate the risks associated with the host country-led 
approach. The Departments of State, the Treasury, and Agriculture 
(USDA), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) 
generally concurred with the recommendations. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-494T] or key 
components. For more information, contact Thomas Melito at (202) 512-
9601 or melitot@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss our work on U.S. agencies' 
progress toward the development of a governmentwide strategy to 
address global food security. Global hunger continues to worsen 
despite world leaders' 1996 pledge--reaffirmed in 2000 and 2009--to 
halve hunger by 2015.[Footnote 1] In 2009, the Food and Agriculture 
Organization (FAO) reported that more than 1 billion people were 
undernourished worldwide. The food and fuel crisis of 2006 through 
2008, and the current global economic downturn, exacerbated food 
insecurity in many developing countries and sparked food protests and 
riots in dozens of them. However, official development assistance for 
agriculture declined from the 1980s to 2005. To reverse this trend, in 
2009, major donor countries pledged about $22.7 billion, in a 3-year 
commitment, for agriculture and food security in developing countries, 
of which the U.S. share is at least $3.5 billion. Various legislative 
proposals introduced in 2009[Footnote 2] call for action to improve 
global food security.[Footnote 3] 

Since assuming office in January 2009, the President and the Secretary 
of State have each stated that improving global food security is a 
priority for this administration. Consistent with one of our 
recommendations in our 2008 review of food insecurity,[Footnote 4] 
U.S. agencies have launched a global hunger and food security 
initiative, and in April 2009 the administration renewed efforts to 
develop a governmentwide strategy. The National Security Council (NSC) 
Interagency Policy Committee on Agriculture and Food Security and a 
Department of State-led Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative 
(GHFSI) working team are responsible for these efforts. In September 
2009, the Department of State (State) issued a consultation document 
that delineated a comprehensive approach to food security based on 
host country-and community-led planning whereby recipient countries 
decide on their own needs, solutions, and development strategies on 
the assumption that the most effective food security strategies come 
from those closest to the problems. 

My statement is based on our report--issued today--on U.S. 
governmentwide efforts to date to address global food security. 
[Footnote 5] I will focus on two topics. First, I will discuss the 
types and funding levels of global food security programs and 
activities of relevant U.S. government agencies. Second, I will 
discuss progress in developing an integrated U.S. governmentwide 
strategy to address global food insecurity, as well as potential 
vulnerabilities of that strategy. 

To address these objectives in our report, we administered a data 
collection instrument to the 10 U.S. agencies that are engaged in 
global food security activities[Footnote 6] and participated in the 
Food Security Sub-Policy Coordinating Committee on Food Price 
Increases and Global Food Security (Food Security Sub-PCC) of the NSC 
in 2008. The 10 agencies are the U.S. Agency for International 
Development (USAID), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), 
Department of the Treasury (Treasury), U.S. Department of Agriculture 
(USDA), State, Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Trade and Development 
Agency (USTDA), Peace Corps, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative 
(USTR), and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). In addition, we 
conducted fieldwork in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, and Malawi 
on the basis of multiple ongoing programs addressing food insecurity, 
the proportion of the chronically hungry in these countries, and 
geographic coverage of U.S. efforts in Africa, the Western Hemisphere, 
and Asia. In these countries, we met with U.S. mission staff and host 
government, donor, and nongovernmental organization (NGO) 
representatives. We also visited numerous project sites funded by the 
U.S. government and other donors. In addition, we attended the 2009 
World Food Summit as an observer and met with Rome-based United 
Nations (UN) food and agriculture agencies--namely FAO, the World Food 
Program (WFP), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development 
(IFAD)--as well as the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and 
representatives of other donor countries. We conducted this 
performance audit from February 2009 to March 2010 in accordance with 
generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards 
require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, 
appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings 
and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the 
evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

The U.S. Government Supports a Broad Array of Programs and Activities 
for Global Food Security, but Lacks Comprehensive Funding Data: 

While the U.S. government supports a wide variety of programs and 
activities for global food security, it lacks comprehensive data on 
funding. We found that it is difficult to readily determine the full 
extent of such programs and activities and to estimate precisely the 
total amount of funding that the U.S. government as a whole allocates 
to global food security. 

In response to our data collection instrument to the 10 agencies, 7 
agencies reported providing monetary assistance for global food 
security programs and activities in fiscal year 2008, based on the 
working definition we developed for this purpose with agency input. 
Figure 1 summarizes the agencies' responses on the types of global 
food security programs and activities and table 1 summarizes the 
funding levels. (The agencies are listed in order from highest to 
lowest amount of funding provided.) 

Figure 1: Summary of the 10 Agencies' Responses on the Types of 
Programs and Activities for Global Food Security, Fiscal Year 2008: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustrated table] 

Types of activities: 

A. Food aid: Emergency food aid: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Check]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

A. Food aid: Nonemergency food aid: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

B. Nutrition: Supplementary feeding and micronutrient supplementation: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Empty]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

B. Nutrition: Nutritional education, counseling, and assessment: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Check]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

B. Nutrition: Assistance focusing on especially vulnerable groups: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Check]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

C. Agricultural development: Agricultural technologies: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

C. Agricultural development: Farming techniques and agricultural 
inputs: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Check]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

C. Agricultural development: Agricultural value chains, including 
investments in food processing and storage: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

C. Agricultural development: Agricultural market development: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

C. Agricultural development: Agricultural risk management: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

C. Agricultural development: Agricultural research and development, 
education, and training: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Check]; 
Peace Corps: [Check]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

C. Agricultural development: Irrigation and watershed management: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Check]; 
Peace Corps: [Check]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

C. Agricultural development: Maintaining the natural resource base: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Check]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

D. Rural development: Land tenure reform: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Empty]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

D. Rural development: Rural infrastructure: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Check]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

D. Rural development: Microlending and access to other credit: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

E. Safety nets: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Empty]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

F. Policy reform: Government food security-oriented policy reform: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Check]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

F. Policy reform: Encouraging private sector investment: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Check]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Check]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

F. Policy reform: Strengthening national and regional trade and 
transport corridors: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Check]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Check]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

G. Information and monitoring: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Empty]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Check]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

H. Other types of food security assistance: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Empty]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Check]; 
DOD: [Empty]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

I. Future challenges to food security: 
USAID: [Check]; 
MCC: [Check]; 
Treasury[A]: [Empty]; 
USDA: [Check]; 
State: [Check]; 
USTDA: [Empty]; 
DOD: [Check]; 
Peace Corps: [Empty]; 
USTR: [Empty]; 
OMB[B]: [Empty]. 

Source: GAO analysis of the agencies’ responses to the data collection 
instrument. 

[A] Treasury reported that its direct involvement in food security is 
in the area of policy reform and its indirect involvement is through 
its participation as the U.S. representative at the multilateral 
development institutions, which support a range of global food 
security activities, such as agricultural and rural development. 

[B] OMB is not an implementing agency for global food security 
activities and, as such, does not have programs and activities to 
report. 

[End of figure] 

Table 1: Summary of Global Food Security Funding by Agency, Fiscal 
Year 2008: 

Agency: USAID; 
Reported funding: $2,510 million. 

Agency: MCC; 
Reported funding: $912 million. 

Agency: Treasury; 
Reported funding: $817 million. 

Agency: USDA; 
Reported funding: $540 million. 

Agency: State; 
Reported funding: $168 million. 

Agency: USTDA; 
Reported funding: $9 million. 

Agency: DOD; 
Reported funding: $8 million. 

Agency: Peace Corps; 
Reported funding: None reported. 

Agency: USTR; 
Reported funding: None reported. 

Agency: OMB; 
Reported funding: None reported. 

Agency: Approximate total[A]; 
Reported funding: $5 billion. 

Source: GAO analysis of the agencies' responses to the data collection 
instrument. 

[A] We present a rounded total of $5 billion because the data cannot 
be precisely summed as USAID reported on planned appropriations; State 
provided appropriations, obligations, and expenditures data; DOD, MCC, 
USDA, and USTDA reported obligations data; and the Treasury funding is 
a GAO estimate based on Treasury data for agricultural development 
funding of the multilateral development institutions and U.S. 
participation in these institutions. 

[End of table] 

USAID and USDA reported providing the broadest array of global food 
security programs and activities. USAID, MCC, Treasury (through its 
participation in the multilateral development institutions), USDA, and 
State provide the highest levels of funding to address food insecurity 
in developing countries. In addition, USTDA and DOD provide some food 
security-related assistance. These seven agencies reported allocating 
at least $5 billion in fiscal year 2008 for global food security, with 
food aid accounting for about half of this funding. However, the 
actual total level of funding is likely greater. 

The agencies did not provide us with comprehensive funding data due to 
two key factors. First, a commonly accepted governmentwide operational 
definition of what constitutes global food security programs and 
activities has not been developed. An operational definition accepted 
by all U.S. agencies would enable them to apply it at the program 
level for planning and budgeting purposes. The agencies also lack 
reporting requirements to routinely capture data on all relevant 
funds. Second, some agencies' management systems are inadequate for 
tracking and reporting food security funding data comprehensively and 
consistently. Most notably, USAID and State--which both use the 
Foreign Assistance Coordination and Tracking System (FACTS) database 
for tracking foreign assistance--failed to include a very large amount 
of food aid funding data in that database. In its initial response to 
our instrument, USAID, using FACTS, reported that in fiscal year 2008 
the agency's planned appropriations for global food security included 
about $860 million for Food for Peace Title II emergency food aid. 
However, we noticed a very large discrepancy between the FACTS-
generated $860 million and two other sources of information on 
emergency food aid funding: (1) the $1.7 billion that USAID allocated 
to emergency food aid from the congressional appropriations for Title 
II food aid for fiscal year 2008,[Footnote 7] and (2) about $2 billion 
in emergency food aid funding reported by USAID in its International 
Food Assistance Report for fiscal year 2008. While USAID officials 
reported that the agency has checks in place to ensure the accuracy of 
the data entered by its overseas missions and most headquarters 
bureaus, the magnitude of the discrepancy for emergency food aid, 
which is USAID's global food security program with the highest funding 
level, raises questions about the data management and verification 
procedures in FACTS, particularly with regard to the Food for Peace 
program. 

The Administration Is Developing a Governmentwide Global Food Security 
Strategy, but Efforts Are Vulnerable to Data Weaknesses and Risks 
Associated with the Host Country-Led Approach: 

While the administration is making progress toward finalizing a 
governmentwide global food security strategy through improved 
interagency coordination at the headquarters level, its efforts are 
vulnerable to weaknesses in data and risks associated with the host 
country-led approach called for in the strategy under development. 

Two interagency processes established in April 2009--the NSC 
Interagency Policy Committee on Agriculture and Food Security and the 
GHFSI working team--are improving headquarters coordination among 
numerous agencies, as shown in figure 2. 

Figure 2: Interagency Coordination Mechanisms for Addressing Global 
Hunger and Food Insecurity Have Been Established: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Interagency coordination mechanisms have been established between 
National Security Council Interagency Policy Committee on Agriculture 
and Food Security and State-Led Global Hunger and Food Security 
Initiative Working Team. 

National Security Council Interagency Policy Committee on Agriculture 
and Food Security: 
* National Security Council; 
* Department of State; 
* U.S. Agency for International Development; 
* Central Intelligence Agency; 
* Department of Commerce; 
* Department of Defense; 
* Department of Labor; 
* Department of the Treasury; 
* Executive Office of the President; 
* Export-Import Bank; 
* Millennium Challenge Corporation; 
* National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; 
* Office of Management and Budget; 
* Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; 
* Office of the Vice President; 
* Overseas Private Investment Corporation; 
* Peace Corps; 
* U.S. Department of Agriculture; 
* U.S. Trade and Development Agency. 

State-Led Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative Working Team: 
* Department of State; 
* Department of the Treasury; 
* Millennium Challenge Corporation; 
* Office of the U.S. Trade Representative; 
* U.S. Agency for International Development; 
* U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Sources: GAO presentation based on State data. 

[End of figure] 

The strategy under development is embodied in the Consultation 
Document issued in September 2009, which is being expanded and as of 
February 2010 was expected to be released shortly, along with an 
implementation document and a results framework that will include a 
plan for monitoring and evaluation. In the fiscal year 2011 
Congressional Budget Justification for the GHFSI, the administration 
has identified a group of 20 countries around which to center GHFSI 
assistance, including 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, 4 in Asia, 
and 4 in the Western Hemisphere. 

However, the administration's efforts are vulnerable to weaknesses in 
funding data, and the host country-led approach, although promising, 
poses some risks. Currently, no single information database compiles 
comprehensive data on the entire range of global food security 
programs and activities across the U.S. government. The lack of 
comprehensive data on current programs and funding levels may impair 
the success of the new strategy because it deprives decision makers of 
information on all available resources, actual cost data, and a firm 
baseline against which to plan. Furthermore, the host country-led 
approach has three key vulnerabilities, as follows: 

* First, the weak capacity of host governments raises questions 
regarding their ability to absorb significant increases in donor 
funding for agriculture and food security and to sustain donor-funded 
projects on their own over time. For example, the multilateral 
development banks reported relatively low ratings for sustainability 
of agriculture-related projects in the past. In a 2007 review of World 
Bank assistance to the agricultural sector in Africa, the World Bank 
Independent Evaluation Group reported that only 40 percent of the 
bank's agriculture-related projects in sub-Saharan Africa had been 
sustainable. Similarly, an annual report issued by the International 
Fund for Agricultural Development's independent Office of Evaluation 
on the results and impact of the fund's operations between 2002 and 
2006 rated only 45 percent of its agricultural development projects 
satisfactory for sustainability. 

* Second, the shortage of expertise in agriculture and food security 
at relevant U.S. agencies can constrain efforts to help strengthen 
host government capacity, as well as review host government efforts 
and guide in-country activities. For example, the Chicago Council on 
Global Affairs noted that whereas USAID previously had a significant 
in-house staff capacity in agriculture, it has lost that capacity over 
the years and is only now beginning to restore it.[Footnote 8] The 
loss has been attributed to the overall declining trend in U.S. 
assistance for agriculture since the 1990s. In 2008 three former USAID 
administrators reported that "the agency now has only six engineers 
and 16 agriculture experts."[Footnote 9] USAID noted that a recent 
analysis of direct hire staff shows the agency has since expanded its 
personnel with technical expertise in agriculture and food security to 
79 staff. USAID officials told us that the agency's current workforce 
plan calls for adding 95 to 114 new Foreign Service officers with 
technical expertise in agriculture by the end of fiscal year 2012. 

* Third, policy differences between host governments and donors, 
including the United States, with regard to agricultural development 
and food security may further complicate efforts to align donor 
interventions with host government strategies. Malawi provides an 
instructive example of policy differences between the host government 
and donors and the difficulties of aligning donor interventions with 
host government strategies. To increase agricultural production and 
reduce poverty among smallholder farmers, the government of Malawi has 
chosen to provide subsidies to offset the costs of major agricultural 
inputs, such as fertilizer, seeds, and pesticides. Since 2005 and 
2006, the government of Malawi has implemented a large-scale national 
program that distributes vouchers to about 50 percent of the country's 
farmers so that they can purchase agricultural inputs at highly 
discounted prices. Although USAID has supported operations that use 
targeted vouchers to accelerate short-term relief operations following 
conflicts or disasters, the U.S. food security strategy in sub-Saharan 
Africa has focused on linking farmers to the market so that they can 
increase their incomes by relying on the market rather than by 
receiving subsidized agricultural inputs. According to a USAID 
official, the provision of cheaper fertilizer and seeds does not 
address the fundamental problem--that poor farmers cannot afford 
fertilizer on their own. 

Conclusion: 

In the face of growing malnutrition worldwide, the international 
community has established ambitious goals toward halving global 
hunger, including significant financial commitments to increase aid 
for agriculture and food security. Given the size of the problem and 
how difficult it has historically been to address it, this effort will 
require a long-term, sustained commitment on the part of the 
international donor community, including the United States. As part of 
this initiative, and consistent with a prior GAO recommendation, the 
United States has committed to harnessing the efforts of all relevant 
U.S. agencies in a coordinated and integrated governmentwide approach. 
The administration has made important progress toward realizing this 
commitment, including providing high-level support across multiple 
government agencies. However, the administration's efforts to develop 
an integrated U.S. governmentwide strategy for global food security 
have two key vulnerabilities: (1) the lack of readily available 
comprehensive data across agencies and (2) the risks associated with 
the host country-led approach. Given the complexity and long-standing 
nature of these concerns, there should be no expectation of quick and 
easy solutions. Only long-term, sustained efforts by countries, 
institutions, and all relevant entities to mitigate these concerns 
will greatly enhance the prospects of fulfilling the international 
commitment to halve global hunger. 

GAO Recommends That Agencies Address Data Weaknesses and Mitigate 
Risks Associated with Host Country-Led Approach: 

Figure 9: In the report issued today, we recommended that the 
Secretary of State (1) work with the existing NSC Interagency Policy 
Committee to develop an operational definition of food security that 
is accepted by all U.S. agencies; establish a methodology for 
consistently reporting comprehensive data across agencies; and 
periodically inventory the food security-related programs and 
associated costs for each of these agencies; and (2) work in 
collaboration with relevant agency heads to delineate measures to 
mitigate the risks associated with the host country-led approach on 
the successful implementation of the forthcoming governmentwide global 
food security strategy. 

State concurred with our recommendations. Our report reflects written 
comments we received from State as well as Treasury, USAID, and USDA. 
In general, these agencies noted two things. First, the importance of 
developing a common definition for food security including other key 
agencies, such as USAID and USDA. We recognize the expertise that 
various agencies can contribute toward the effort and encourage fully 
leveraging their expertise. Second, the four agencies emphasized the 
importance of a country-led approach, while acknowledging the risks 
associated with such an approach, and noted actions being taken to 
mitigate these risks, such as the implementation strategy for the 
GHFSI. 

Madam Chairwoman, this concludes my statement. I would be pleased to 
respond to any questions that you or other Members of the Subcommittee 
may have. 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Should you have any questions about this testimony, please contact 
Thomas Melito at (202) 512-9601, or melitot@gao.gov. Contact points 
for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be 
found on the last page of this statement. Individuals who made key 
contributions to this statement include Phillip J. Thomas (Assistant 
Director), Joy Labez, Sada Aksartova, Carol Bray, Ming Chen, Debbie 
Chung, Martin De Alteriis, Brian Egger, Etana Finkler, Amanda Hinkle, 
and Ulyana Panchishin. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] At the 1996 World Food Summit, world leaders set a goal to halve 
the total number of undernourished people worldwide by 2015 from the 
1990 level. However, in 2000, the first of eight UN Millennium 
Development Goals (MDG), referred to as MDG-1, was defined as a 
commitment to halve the proportion of undernourished people. Both 
goals apply globally as well as at the country and regional levels. 
MDG-1 has two targets: first, between 1990 and 2015, to halve the 
proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day and second, 
between 1990 and 2015, to halve the proportion of people who suffer 
from hunger. The second target is measured by two progress indicators: 
(1) the prevalence of underweight children under 5 years of age on the 
basis of United Nations Children's Fund and World Health Organization 
data and (2) the proportion of the population below the minimum level 
of dietary energy consumption. In this report we focus on the latter 
indicator, which is based on FAO's World Food Summit goal estimates. 

[2] These include S. 384, Global Food Security Act, introduced on 
February 5, 2009; HR 2795, Roadmap to End Global Hunger and Promote 
Food Security Act of 2009, introduced on June 10, 2009; and HR 3077, 
Global Food Security Act of 2009, introduced on June 26, 2009. 

[3] FAO defines food security as a condition that exists when all 
people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to 
sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and 
food preferences for an active and healthy life. Specifically, food 
security includes three elements: (1) food availability, (2) access, 
and (3) utilization. The declaration approved at the World Summit on 
Food Security in November 2009 expanded FAO's definition to include 
stability as a fourth element. This fourth element was added after we 
completed our data collection and analysis. However, the FAO's 
definition does not include an operational definition that would 
indicate which programs and activities it covers. 

[4] GAO, International Food Security: Insufficient Efforts by Host 
Governments and Donors Threaten Progress to Halve Hunger in Sub-
Saharan Africa by 2015, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-680] (Washington, D.C.: May 29, 
2008). 

[5] GAO, Global Food Security: U.S. Agencies Progressing on 
Governmentwide Strategy, but Approach Faces Several Vulnerabilities, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-352] (Washington, D.C.: 
Mar. 11, 2010). 

[6] In the absence of a commonly accepted governmentwide operational 
definition of food security, we developed a working definition for our 
data collection instrument based on a broad framework we established 
in an earlier report (GAO-08-680), prior GAO work on international 
food security, and our interactions with the agencies. This working 
definition is based on existing definitions used by FAO, World Food 
Program, and some U.S. agencies. 

[7] These include the regular appropriations (Pub. Law No. 110-161) of 
$1.2 billion and the supplemental appropriations (Pub. Law No. 110-
252) of $850 million in Food for Peace Title II funding for fiscal 
year 2008. 

[8] The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Renewing American 
Leadership in the Fight Against Global Hunger and Poverty: The Chicago 
Initiative on Global Agricultural Development (Chicago, IL: 2009). 

[9] J. Brian Atwood, M. Peter McPherson, and Andrew Natsios. "Arrested 
Development: Making Foreign Aid a More Effective Tool." Foreign 
Affairs, vol. 87, No. 6, p. 127 (2008). 

[End of section] 

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