House passes bill that expands flexible assistance for poor countries, improves effectiveness of vital U.S. international food aid
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Mercy Corps applauds the farm bill conferees, particularly the leaders of the Senate and House agriculture committees, for their hard work in ensuring the bill advances important reforms that improve the efficiency of international food-aid programs and invest in building resilience – the ability of communities to cope, adapt and rebound after shocks such as drought and famine.
"The farm bill dramatically increases flexible government mechanisms to deliver food assistance to people in some of the world's most fragile countries, which will in turn expand the reach of these vital programs, improving efficiency and yielding a greater return on the American taxpayer's investment," says Andrea Koppel, vice president of Global Engagement and Policy at Mercy Corps. "We know from our own experience in countries such as Niger, Haiti, and Kyrgyzstan that local and regional procurement of food assistance not only saves taxpayers money, but also gets food to those in desperate need weeks if not months faster than if it were shipped from the United States."
Among key reforms, the farm bill limits monetization – selling U.S. commodities in the countries receiving assistance to fund development programs – a long-standing practice which the U.S. Government Accountability Office has found to be inefficient. The bill also provides a $350 million funding floor for programs with a longer time horizon that help chronically food-insecure countries such as Guatemala and Uganda combat hunger and will, because of these latest reforms to monetization, have a greater impact at no additional cost.
"These reforms represent a significant and welcome shift in United States food-aid policy," says Koppel. "And renewed authorization for Food for Peace development programs paves the way for critical food security, nutrition and maternal and child health programs to improve the self-sufficiency of some of the world's most vulnerable people."
About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a leading global humanitarian agency saving and improving lives in the world's toughest places. With a network of experienced professionals in more than 40 countries, we partner with local communities to put bold ideas into action to help people recover, overcome hardship and build better lives. For more information, visit www.mercycorps.org.
SOURCE Mercy Corps