Press conference by H. G. Wessberg, Member of the European Court of Auditors, on the ECA special report related to the effectiveness of EU development aid for food security in sub-Saharan Africa
Type: Complete press conference
End production: 28/03/2012 First transmission: 28/03/2012
On 28 March 2012, H.G. Wessberg, Member of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), gave in Brussels a press conference on the ECA special report related to the effectiveness of EU development aid for food security in sub-Saharan Africa. On this occasion, he presented the food security on a global scale and announced the main findings and recommendations from the audit carried out by the ECA.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Soundbite by Aidas Palubinskas, Press Officer of the European Court of Auditors (ECA), (in ENGLISH) giving some introductory words on the subject of the press conference and explaining the way it will be run
||Soundbite by H.G. Wessberg, Member of the European Court of Auditors, (in ENGLISH): I will briefly present main findings and recommendations of these performers' audit carried out by the Court on the effectiveness of European Union development aid for food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Accompanying me today are: the Head of Unit, Gerald Locatelli and the Audit Team Leader, Cynthia Matalatala. First a few words on food security itself. Food security has long been and still is a really global problem with an estimated 1 billion people in the world suffering from hunger. Food security has been defined as a condition where all people at all times have physical, social and economical access to sufficient safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Food security is a major problem in sub-Saharan Africa where the number of people suffering from hunger reached 239 million in 2010 that means 30% of the total population. For the period 2002-2010, the EU has founded a total of over 3.1 billion euro for food security interventions in sub-Saharan Africa through the European Development Fund (EDF), which is the prime framework for cooperation with individual sub-Saharan countries as well as the three thematic instruments finance through the general budget of the Europe Union. The first one being the Food Security Budget Line (FSBL) which was established to finance interventions at country level for short term; food aid operations, for long term; financial or technical assistance in support of food security (e.g. supply of seeds, tools and other inputs essentials to the production of food crops) as well as early warnings and storage systems. The second instrument is the Food Security Thematic Programme (FSTP) supporting, among others, research and technology for agriculture and sustainable management of national resources and ecosystems. The third instrument is the Food Facility, which was established in 2008 to provide rapid response to the crisis caused by volatile food prices in developing countries. Before going into the main findings and conclusions, a few words about the audit work itself. The court has assessed whether European Union development aid for food security in sub-Saharan Africa is effective by analysing whether European Union development aid for food security is relevant to the countries' needs and priorities and whether EU interventions are effective. The audit focused on EU direct development support for the three dimensions of food security; food availability, access to food and nutritional utilisation of food. Three countries were visited on the spot; Ethiopia, Malawi and Rwanda. A further documentary review was carried out for 13 countries.
Now, let me address the main findings and conclusions of the audit. The conclusions is that European Union development aid for food security in sub-Saharan Africa is mostly effective and makes an important contribution to achieving food security. The EU is a prominent international actor in term of food security in quite a number of sub-Saharan African countries and provides effective support as regards food availability and access to food. EU development aid is highly relevant to the countries' needs and there is a good complementarity between the EDF and the FSTP. The Food Facility was set up in a reasonably short period of time and represents a considerable additional EU commitment towards improving food security in developing countries. EU interventions are mostly well designed, achieve most of their intended results and half of them have reasonable prospects of being sustainable. However, there is scope for significant improvement in several areas. The Commission focused its development aid on countries with the highest number of undernourished people. It did not sufficiently considered the potential scope for the EU support in other countries which also suffer from chronic food insecurity. The Food Facility, set up in order to react to the impact of the 2007-2008 food price crisis, was not designed to address long term food prices volatility.
EU aid properly addresses countries’ needs and pri¬orities as regards food availability and access to food. However, the Commission has not placed adequate emphasis on nutrition. Often, interventions do not set sufficiently clear objectives and they are also sometimes overly ambitious, in particular in the case of Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) projects.
The report gives a set of recommendations to the European Commission and the European External Action Service.
For the programming period after 2013, the European Commission and the European External Action Service should carry out a structured assessment of the food security situation in each country and systematically consider the potential scope for EU support in this area.
The Commission and the European External Action Service should examine, possibly with other development partners, the feasibility of a permanent instrument for financing urgent and supplementary measures that may be required to address the consequences of potential future food crises in developing countries. The Commission and the European External Action Service should give adequate priority to nutrition when defining the cooperation strategy, identifying and designing interventions, and using policy dialogue with partner governments, notably in the framework of budget support programmes.
The Commission should set out intervention objectives that are sufficiently precise and measurable through performance indicators. It should ensure that the objectives are achievable by better assessing the risks and assumptions concerning the successful implementation of interventions.
The Commission should better support the financial sustainability of agriculture and social transfer programmes. In doing so, the Commission should place more emphasis on the development of effective agricultural extension services, post-harvest infrastructure and rural credit, and ensure that social transfer programmes provide for adequate support to the development of income-earning capacities of the beneficiaries.
||Soundbite by Aidas Palubinskas giving some closing words to complete the press conference