Famine in Africa

Improving Emergency Food Relief Programs Gao ID: NSIAD-86-25 March 4, 1986

GAO reviewed the Agency for International Development's (AID) fiscal year 1984 emergency food program for drought-stricken Africa to determine program results and to evaluate program management.

AID provided emergency food to cooperating sponsors in each country, who then distributed the food to the needy. As of December 1984, the sponsors had: (1) distributed 68 percent of the food; (2) not distributed 22 percent; (3) reported the status as unknown for 9 percent; (4) lost 1 percent; and (5) distributed 56 percent to the neediest people. GAO found several factors limiting AID emergency food distribution: (1) difficult terrain; (2) inefficient transportation networks; (3) limited government capabilities for assessing food needs; and (4) variances in the missions' planning and monitoring of emergency food distribution. GAO also found that: (1) there was a direct relationship between the amount of planning and monitoring and the extent to which the food reached the most needy people; (2) the success of emergency programs depends on whether emergency food arrives when it is most needed and can be transported to drought-affected areas; (3) food delivery during rainy seasons can delay or preclude the delivery of significant quantities; and (4) the arrival of large quantities of food shortly before a harvest could significantly limit program success. GAO noted widespread problems in the AID program in Somalia because the government did not follow procedures in selling and auctioning wheat and other commodities, resulting in loss of funds for local development projects.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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