Strengthening And Coordinating Development Assistance Programs

This is the third of a series of five papers outlining the policy priorities of the Global Harvest Initiative, a partnership united under the common goal of addressing hunger and food insecurity by sustainably closing the global agricultural productivity gap.

The US government delivers more than $58 billion a year in foreign assistance, and these assistance programs have significant benefits worldwide.[1] However, it is critical that these programs and the organizations that manage them increase collaboration and communication to improve efficiency and maximize the benefits of each particular program.

Several international experts have suggested that US foreign development assistance programs need to be strengthened and modernized. The Global Harvest Initiative believes that this is particularly timely today as development assistance programs involve numerous Federal government agencies, and it is essential that all of their respective efforts be coordinated and focused on a common, established strategy.

In this paper, the Global Harvest Initiative outlines specific areas of focus and provides recommendations to strengthen and better coordinate development assistance programs.

Major comprehensive legislation was introduced in the Congress focusing on global food security—the Lugar-Casey Bill in the US Senate, and the McCollum companion bill in the US House of Representatives. Both were comprehensive bills with hundreds of provisions, some more beneficial than others.

The Lugar-Casey and McCollum Global Food Security Act—as well as any other proposed legislation—should be reintroduced, subjected to rigorous and honest debate, modified as deemed appropriate, and brought to a conclusion to ensure that available funds are used in the most efficient and effective manner. This will serve to provide a roadmap for the recently announced US global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, that is designed to help accelerate the progress toward the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty and suffering from hunger by 2015.

Among other factors, these bills contain several factors worthy of careful consideration, some of which are already under way:

  • Create a Special Coordinator for Global Food Security;
  • Direct the President, acting through the Special Coordinator, to develop a Global Food Security Strategy based on a whole-of-government approach, and work with NGO’s, private sector businesses, voluntary organizations, international financial institutions, other donor governments, host governments, and other entities as appropriate. The strategy is to focus on development assistance to alleviate hunger and poverty and not on food aid shipments;
  • Encourage public-private alliances that collectively highlights the importance and need of assistance programs and sustain the continued growth of development;
  • Coordinating donor programs with private sector investments – Using assistance programs as leverage to create an environment more conducive to private sector investments;
  • Designate USAID as the lead agency in implementing an inter-agency strategy;
  • Put emphasis on a multi-sector approach to agriculture and rural development;
  • Re-orient US foreign aid toward rural development and agriculture; and
  • Authorize additional funding for both domestic and international research and extension programs.

GHI urges that more attention be given to the approach of the Millennium Challenge Corporation—especially by the US Administration—since it is proving to be an effective means of addressing global hunger and other development priorities. Careful deliberation should be accorded to budget considerations affecting programs addressing global food security and hunger, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation and Feed the Future initiative, which can have enormous impact.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) takes a unique approach that is proving effective and is committed to providing development assistance and private sector-led economic growth in transitioning countries. In many food-deficit countries, corruption is a major impediment to development and consequently to global food security. Where corruption thrives, international programs cannot be successful, nor can the private sector effectively operate. Understanding this dynamic, the MCC refuses to provide assistance in areas where corruption is evident. This approach provides a strong incentive for many countries to begin addressing corruption, with the goal of becoming eligible for an MCC partnership which offers significant, multiple-year funding generally focused on the rural/agriculture sector.

The MCC further focuses on the development of key infrastructure like rural roads, and many authorities suggest that roads are essential to increasing productivity in malnourished areas of the world. Although relatively new, the MCC offers significant promise for obtaining real and lasting long-term results. The FY 2009 MCC funding was $875 million, but has been much higher in the past. Future MCC funding at a significant higher level now would appear to be warranted.

Likewise, the Feed the Future initiative is a U.S. Government-wide effort to address the root causes of poverty and hunger on an individual country basis by helping countries to transform their own agricultural sectors to sustainably increase agricultural production and feed more of their citizens.

The Global Harvest Initiative believes that these development assistance programs should be streamlined in order to maximize the potential benefits of scarce resources. Development assistance programs should be continually evaluated for effectiveness and modified accordingly.


The potential benefits of development assistance programs are significant. By identifying and focusing on an established common strategy, increasing collaboration and communication among all US Government agencies, NGOs, and others involved, the return on investment of these programs can be maximized.

US Foreign Assistance Dashboard:


US Foreign Assistance Dashboard

Feed the Future

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Millennium Challenge Corporation

The World Bank

The World Bank Agriculture and Rural Development Portal,,menuPK:336688~pagePK:149018~piPK:149093~theSitePK:336682,00.html

The Global Food Security Act of 2009 (S. 384)

US Agency for International Development Agriculture Portal

The Congressional Hunger Center

Farm Foundation

Chicago Council on Global Affairs “Renewing American Leadership in the Fight Against Hunger and Poverty”, February 2009.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

World Wildlife Fund – Agriculture Portal

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

The Economist, “Brazilian Agriculture: The miracle of the cerrado”, August 26, 2010.

The Economist, “The 9 billion-people question – A special report on feeding the world”, February 26, 2011.

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Agriculture and Development Portal

OECD Trade and Agricultural Directorate Department Portal,3355,en_2649_33727_1_1_1_1_1,00.html

World Economic Forum: The New Vision for Agriculture

The World Bank Agriculture and Rural Development Portal,,menuPK:336688~pagePK:149018~piPK:149093~theSitePK:336682,00.html

Field to Market: The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

The World Food Prize

The Nature Conservancy

The International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF)

Conservation International