July 7, 2016 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Carolyn Miles, and Connie Veillette
MFAN is pleased to see that the Global Food Security Act (S. 1252), which was approved by the House of Representatives yesterday and is now on to the President for signature, includes important reform elements that will help increase accountability and promote greater country ownership of U.S. foreign assistance programs related to food security and global agricultural development. This bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) and Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Betty McCollum (D-MN).
Specifically, the legislation will strengthen accountability by requiring that measurable goals and benchmarks are set and that monitoring and evaluation plans are created that reflect international best practices related to transparency and accountability. It also requires that results be reported in an open and transparent matter, including how findings from monitoring and evaluation have been incorporated into program design and budget decisions. It is encouraging to see these elements track so closely with what is included in the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, which was unanimously passed this week and is also on its way to President Obama’s desk.
In addition, the bill demonstrates a commitment to principles of country ownership. It highlights the importance of building local capacity to improve agricultural productivity, expand access to local and international markets, and increase resilience to food and nutrition insecurity. The bill also calls for consultation with local stakeholders, and support for alignment with partner country plans. Finally, the bill requires that the Global Food Security Strategy include criteria and methodologies be included for how to graduate target countries and communities from assistance provided by the Act.
It is encouraging to see the final version of this legislation maintain a strong commitment to aid effectiveness principles. However, we believe the bill could have been made even stronger if the coordinating function were given to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – our principal development agency and the lead on Feed the Future – and if the amount of assistance authorized was determined by locally-driven priorities and plans.