Managing Assistance for Foreign Disaster Reconstruction

ID-81-40: Published: Jun 10, 1981. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1981.

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GAO examined foreign disaster reconstruction activities in several countries where the United States has been a recent and principal provider of assistance. Since 1976, the United States has provided more than $700 million for disaster relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction assistance. Disaster assistance is separated into three categories: emergency disaster relief, short-term rehabilitation, and long-term reconstruction. This report deals only with long-term disaster reconstruction. GAO examined the Agency for International Development's (AID) overall management of disaster reconstruction programs, with special emphasis on how well reconstruction projects are planned, implemented, and monitored. GAO also attempted to determine whether the programs are undertaken based on carefully identified needs.

In recent years, Congress has provided special authorization for relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction following disasters. In some cases, funds are authorized before the extent of damage and reconstruction needs have been ascertained. In December 1980, AID was granted authority to borrow funds from its economic assistance programs for disaster relief. This authorization gives AID added flexibility in providing emergency relief in major disasters and should lessen the need for Congress to immediately authorize funds for reconstruction programs before damage and reconstruction needs have been assessed. The delivery of some reconstruction assistance often continues for many years beyond immediate relief. Requests for reconstruction assistance, based on adequately established needs and included in the AID budgetary review and approval process, would provide Congress an opportunity to more thoroughly evaluate the funding need. A review of reconstruction projects disclosed that in some cases project monitoring is not being carried out adequately. Implementation problems in reconstruction projects are not being identified nor is corrective action being taken in a timely manner. There are monitoring problems in recent audits of disaster reconstruction activities. AID actions in issuing monitoring guidelines for the AID staff are positive moves to close a serious gap in AID operating procedures. Some AID projects did not clearly identify disaster relief as being provided by the United States as required.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should act to assure that monitoring guidelines are issued in 1981.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should establish more stringent procedures to assure that recipient host countries appropriately acknowledge U.S. disaster assistance and U.S. participation in disaster reconstruction projects.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development


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