Famine in Africa

Improving U.S. Response Time for Emergency Relief Gao ID: NSIAD-86-56 April 3, 1986

GAO commented on the time it took federal agencies to approve emergency food requests, obtain the commodities, and start loading them for shipment to African countries during the 1985 emergency.

GAO found that: (1) in 1985 it took an average of 110 days to approve emergency food program requests, obtain commodities, and arrange shipping, which was somewhat less than the time required in 1984; (2) requests were approved considerably more quickly in 1985; and (3) commodities were obtained in about the same amount of time in both years but, in 1985, they remained at U.S. ports considerably longer before shipment. GAO also found that: (1) February and March 1985 approvals averaged 21 days, compared with about 2 months for 1984; (2) commodities were obtained in about 58 days during both years; and (3) in 1985, commodities waited for loading and shipment an average of 31 days compared with an average of 14 days in 1984. Although the African drought and the demand for emergency food aid appear to have lessened, GAO believes that: (1) the Agency for International Development (AID) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) should continue to give priority attention to seeking and testing ways to shorten the time for obtaining and shipping emergency program commodities; and (2) such efforts could be facilitated by more systematic coordination and collaboration with the private voluntary and industry organizations involved in the process.


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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