Food Aid: Experience of U.S. Programs Suggests Opportunities for Improvement

GAO-02-801T Published: Jun 04, 2002. Publicly Released: Jun 04, 2002.
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The United States spent $50 billion (2002 dollars) on food aid between 1979 and 2003. Notwithstanding these sizable donations and donations by other countries, the need for food aid in the developing world far exceeds available supply. U.S. food aid is provided through six programs administered by the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). These programs use various methods for providing resources and have different ways of delivering aid to the recipient nations. USAID manages the largest program--P.L. 480, Title II--using annual appropriations to purchase commodities that are then donated to recipient nations principally through private voluntary organizations and the World Food Program. The large fluctuations in U.S. food aid since 1990 are the result of three key factors: U.S. food aid policies, agricultural surpluses, and international events. The success of food aid programs in meeting their objectives is hampered by the competing objectives of the programs and by management weaknesses such as a lack of management attention to monitoring and accountability in food aid programs.

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