Food Aid:

Improving Economic and Market Development Impact in African Countries

NSIAD-88-55: Published: Dec 21, 1987. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the economic and market development impact of Public Law 83-480 food aid to four African countries.

GAO found that: (1) U.S. agricultural and foreign policy interests, weak agreement provisions, and recipient governments' failure to fully implement some agreement provisions weakened developmental benefits; (2) long-term impact on the economy was difficult to measure; (3) self-help measures should be more measurable and better focused on economic development objectives; and (4) the Agency for International Development's (AID) missions have not fully complied with requirements for monitoring and reporting on recipient governments' implementation of the programs. GAO also found that food programs have provided humanitarian assistance, but inadequate private voluntary organization (PVO) management limited efforts to alleviate malnutrition and poverty. In addition, GAO found that: (1) AID mission staff have other duties which they perceive as having a higher priority; (2) economic problems have precluded the African countries from progressing to the point of financing imports on commercial terms; and (3) improvements in AID planning and oversight could enhance both programs' benefits.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: If Congress concludes that local currencies should be used to some extent to support community and rural development projects which do not include a direct feeding component, it should direct that such use be made. Congress should also include safeguards to ensure that traditional humanitarian feeding programs receive priority in the use of available resources. Congress should further consider amending sections 202, 206, and 207 of Title II, making the provisions expressly applicable to cooperatives as well as PVO.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID is awaiting any amendments to sections 202, 206, and 207 of Title II. At that time, AID will review its procedures and programming regulations in order to develop measures to meet the amendments. P.L. 480 legislation has been amended to include all of the above.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should assess a sample of Title II local currency projects in fiscal year (FY) 1988 to ensure that sales are being properly administered and local currencies are being used as intended.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID has prepared a report to Congress on uses of Title II local currency in FY 1988 and 1989.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should include in the field manual for Title II sales projects a requirement that missions review and approve PVO sales agreements with local buyers and periodically review local currency deposits and uses.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID is developing a Food and Field Manual for Title II sales projects, which should include provisions to address this recommendation. The new AID Monetization Field Manual includes provisions that address this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should improve oversight of PVO Title II programs through clarifying mission oversight responsibilities, including: (1) requiring them to submit analyses of PVO annual reports on their progress toward operational plan objectives and to review management of PVO programs periodically; (2) specifying data that missions would routinely request from PVO to document the scope and results of projects; and (3) defining mission responsibilities for monitoring PVO use of grant funds and achievements of benefits.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID sent out worldwide guidance for FY 1990 instructing missions to submit progress reports identifying program objectives and achievements, and this requirement is included in AID Regulation II and in the new draft of Handbook 9. The new food aid management plan should assist missions to better define monitoring responsibilities.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should improve oversight of PVO Title II programs through assisting PVO to improve their operational plans and comply with operational plan guidance by: (1) providing them with technical assistance in preparing plans; (2) circulating to missions and PVO copies of plans that comply with operational plan guidance; (3) providing PVO with more specific criteria and a format for reporting financial information; and (4) requiring missions to be more actively involved in reviewing plans, providing them with a format for evaluating the plans' adherence to guidance and requiring mission analyses prior to AID, Washington's approval.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID regulation has been revised to include all of the areas above. AID is also providing PVO with grants to strengthen their design of food aid programs.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should improve oversight of the Title I programs by ensuring that missions: (1) verify and document recipient-government implementation of self-help and local currency provisions; (2) submit well-documented, interim and annual analyses of recipient governments' implementation of self-help programs; and (3) define the specific duties of, and the relationships between, offices and individuals responsible for program design and monitoring, including mission controllers.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The new food aid management plans are helping missions to explicitly define who is responsible for managing each element of a food aid program, thereby increasing accountability. Missions are required to submit reports documenting governments implementation of self-help measures.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should improve oversight of the Title I programs by increasing missions' attention to the oversight of the program, such as reallocating existing mission staff, funding monitoring activities with Title-I-generated local currencies, and using short-term consultants to evaluate self-help measure implementation and local currency projects.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID has developed and provided missions with copies of a food and management plan which will enable them to systematically review its food and management responsibilities, identify weaknesses, and develop plans for corrective action.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should improve oversight of the Title I programs by ensuring, during the Washington review of draft Title I agreements, that they: (1) include specific and measurable self-help measures which directly contribute to economic development; (2) specify local currency uses; and (3) include time frames for routine progress consultations with recipient governments.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID has taken action to improve oversight of the Title I programs. The review of each draft Title I agreement now ensures that they include specific and measurable self-help measures, specify local currency uses, and include timeframes for consultation.

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