International Food Assistance: Local and Regional Procurement Provides Opportunities to Enhance U.S. Food Aid, but Challenges May Constrain Its Implementation

GAO-09-757T Published: Jun 04, 2009. Publicly Released: Jun 04, 2009.
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This testimony discusses how local and regional procurement (LRP) can provide opportunities to enhance U.S. food aid, though challenges can constrain its implementation. This hearing is of particular importance given today's environment of increasing emergencies and growing global food insecurity, in which the United States and other donors face intense pressures to feed the world's expanding undernourished population. In September 2008, the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that high food prices had resulted in the number of undernourished people reaching a record 963 million. LRP has increasingly become a key element in the multilateral food aid response over the past decade. Most bilateral donors of food aid have switched from commodity-based in-kind food aid to a cash-based food assistance program in recent years. As the largest international food aid donor, contributing over half of all food aid supplies to alleviate hunger and support development, the United States plays an important role in responding to emergency food assistance needs and ensuring global food security. The large majority of U.S. food assistance is for U.S.-grown commodities purchased competitively in the United States and shipped to recipient countries on U.S.-flag carriers.

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