New food security fund must be coordinated, Oxfam says

A new $880 million fund for global agriculture and food security announced today is an important step in mobilizing crucial funding, but could further fuel the current uncoordinated approaches to global hunger, international development agency Oxfam warned today.

April 22, 2010

`More than a billion people in this world — one out of every six on the planet — go to bed hungry every night so urgent action is necessary. But is yet another fund among so many managed by the World Bank really the best way to deliver for the poorest?," asked Oxfam spokesperson Gawain Kripke.

"While we welcome the move to get money out the door, this new fund should not distract donor attention from the need to dramatically improve the coordination and coherence of their response to the global food crisis," he said.

Reuters reported that Canada contributed $230 million (U.S.) to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, while the U.S. committed $475 million and Spain $95 million. South Korea will contribute $50 million and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will deposit $30 million.

The fund was created to implement part of about $22 billion in pledges made by leaders of the Group of Eight wealthy nations last year in Italy to support food security in poor countries, Reuters said.

The fund was created to implement part of about $22 billion in pledges made by leaders of the Group of Eight wealthy nations last year in Italy to support food security in poor countries, Reuters said.

The U.S. Treasure describes the fundas a way to finance medium-to long-term projects that will boost agricultural development in low-income countries. It will focus on raising agricultural productivity through investments in land use planning, better irrigation infrastructure and development of farm machinery leasing markets.

It will also focus on development of rural roads to better connect farmers to markets and improve other infrastructure to better handle harvested crops. The fund also aims to provide better technical assistance to farmers, boost distribution of agriculture inputs such as seeds, and strengthen producer organizations.

The World Bank will work through a number of other agencies, including the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, to implement projects financed by the fund.

`In order to avoid the continuation of a fragmented push against hunger, decisions on how this money will be spent must be informed by the Committee on World Food Security within the UN system. Without such global coordination, all the different initiatives do not add up to a single effective, coherent and accountable effort," Kripke said.

`While this Fund is rightly adding to the global momentum to urgently address global food security needs, what's crucial is what happens between now and the June G8 and G20 meetings in Canada, when donors must be fully transparent on the fulfillment of the promises made at last year's G8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy and commit to the additional funds needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on hunger. Governments must not break their promises and leave hungry people behind.

Notes:

The fund will be managed by the US, Canada, Spain, Korea, Gates Foundation and five recipient countries, with the World Bank as trustee. The purpose of the fund is to support national plans by helping developing countries to improve production yields, technology development, market access and value-added products, among other goals.

Oxfam urges the donor countries to ensure the fund remains coherent with other components of the global food security architecture, especially the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which is the central policy pillar of the Global Partnership on Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition. The CFS is an inter-governmental platform for coordinating efforts on food security and its reform was approved last November by the World Summit on Food Security in Rome to promote policy coherence at the global level in order to meet food security needs.

Integration of civil society into the design, planning and evaluation of the fund's activities is crucial, as the full participation of civil society representatives has the potential to improve the transparency and accountability of the fund. While the fund's design makes important steps in this regard, the consultation process by the World Bank and donor countries with civil society, especially Southern civil society groups, has been inadequate.

Oxfam also recommends that the fund prioritize the needs of small food producers in developing countries, particularly women, who are key actors in the fight against poverty and climate change. In particular, assistance should be provided, to national and regional plans, through budget support wherever possible to avoid the complexity and ineffectiveness of having several agencies within countries implementing projects in uncoordinated way. Furthermore, the fund should support strengthening the capacity of national governments as well as regional institutions to develop and implement their plans.