The U.S. Government Accountability Office identified two major weaknesses of the Obama administration’s proposed global food security strategy. These include lack of comprehensive data on funding and risks tied to the strategy’s host country-led approach.
During a March 11 House Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Thomas Melito, director of GAO’s international affairs and trade team, noted the absence of a commonly accepted definition of global food security programs, reporting requirements on funding data among agencies, and data management systems to consistently monitor funding.
According to GAO estimates, seven agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, Millennium Challenge Corp. and State Department, allocated at least USD5 billion to global food security efforts in fiscal year 2008. But because of the funding monitoring deficiencies, “the actual total is likely greater,” Melito said.
Melito called the host country-led approach “promising” but was concerned about its prospects for success. Obstacles include weak capacity of host governments, shortage at U.S. agencies of agriculture and food security experts who could help build the capacity of recipient countries, and policy variances between beneficiary governments and donors.