EU food aid policy effective, says ECA
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Wednesday 28 March 2012
The European Union’s development aid for food security in sub-Saharan Africa is mostly effective, according to a special report by the EU Court of Auditors, published on 28 March. It makes “an important contribution to achieving food security” in the region, the court said in a statement. “However, there is scope for significant improvement in several areas,” it warned.
The 63-page report – ‘Effectiveness of European Union development aid for food security in sub-Saharan Africa’ – assesses whether the EU’s policy is relevant to the countries’ needs and priorities and whether the EU interventions are indeed effective. The audit focused on EU direct development support for three dimensions of food security, the report explains: food availability; access to food; and utilisation of food (nutrition). According to the court, the main factors of food security in the area are low agricultural productivity, low rate of investment and decreasing share of donor aid allocated to agriculture and rural development and poor purchasing power.
While recognising that the European Commission has focused its development aid on countries with the highest number of undernourished people, the report comes to the conclusion that it “did not sufficiently consider the potential scope for EU support in other countries, which also suffer from chronic food security”. The results of the audit, which was carried out between May 2010 and April 2011, show that even though EU aid properly addresses the countries’ needs and priorities, it needs to place an adequate emphasis on nutrition. Another issue identified by the court is the sustainability of EU interventions. “The prospects for sustainability are good for half of the interventions but there are fewer guarantees of continued results for the other half,” the report says. The court is also critical of the lack of clear objectives of the EU’s interventions. “Often, interventions do not set sufficiently clear objectives and are sometimes overly ambitious.”
Between 2002 and 2010, the EU allocated over €3 billion in aid for food security in Sub-Saharan Africa under four different instruments, one of which is the European Development Fund.
- Commission and the European External Action Service (EAS) should carry out a structured assessment of the food security situation in each country for the period after 2013
- Commission should examine the feasibility of a permanent instrument to address the potential food crisis in developing countries
- Commission should better support the financial sustainability of agricultural and social transfer programmes
- Commission and EAS should prioritise nutrition when defining a cooperation strategy