WASHINGTON D.C.— A report released by the Feed the Future Initiative shows outstanding progress in international poverty reduction. The May Progress Report cites significant gains, with improved food stability and nutrition for more than 12.5 million children and almost 7 million food producers. It seems, more than ever, the initiative has begun to truly establish “a foundation for lasting progress against global hunger.”
Established to combat the global food price spikes of 2007 and 2008, the unified efforts of the United States, members of the G-8 and other donors, have leveraged a multibillion dollar budget to combat poverty. Innovative approaches to tie in private sector influences and capital “strengthens accountability and public policy to advance inclusive economic growth, food security and nutrition.”
The success stories are both impressive and numerous, with the most successful interventions occurring in Senegal, Bangladesh and Honduras. For example, Bangladesh, with the help of technology and other assistance, is on its way to self-sufficiency in rice production, a key step in alleviating the poverty of more than 48 million Bangladeshi. The Progress Reports show the significant progress linked to “the use of improved fertilizer, rice varieties and management practices [that have]helped farmers increase rice yields by up to 20 percent, lower fertilizer input costs and create additional rice sales valued at $25 million.”
Senegalese rice production has undergone similar improvements, all of which are key to reducing the countries dependency on imported rice. Improvements in financing and insurance have created a more sustainable economy, one more conducive to small business and the emergence of a new Senegalese middle class.
Similar initiatives in Honduras have improved and diversified the Honduran economy. “Between 2012 and 2013, more than 4,300 households — nearly 24,000 people — were moved well above the $1.25 poverty threshold. Average per capita daily income shot up 237 percent, from $0.71 to $2.39, among these families.”
Yet, despite the significant benefits of the policy, some criticism remains. Oxfam chastises the limited scope of the reports, noting that the improvements touted are rarely disaggregated to provide the full story about the projects – What policy is actually working? Where is it being most effective? Furthermore, the long time frame necessary to properly evaluate this kind of development ties the intervention’s benefits to the difficult task of maintaining, or even increasing, spending over time.
Oxfam has brought scrutiny to the program as well, spotlighting issues about efficiency and transparency in Haiti as reasons to improve our aid programs. U.S. Congressman Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stands firmly committed to improving the kind of aid provided by Feed the Future: “Haitian people deserve better.”
Overall, the report seems accurate with its description of positive policy outcomes.