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AFSI Group Meeting Engages Civil Society, Advances Accountability on Food Security Assistance

On February 2-3 at the U.S. Department of State, Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security Jonathan Shrier chaired the first meeting of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) group of 2012. The discussion covered progress on AFSI financial pledges and accountability reporting; strengthening investment in research, science and technology; managing for development results; and the future of AFSI.

AFSI recognizes that “increased involvement of civil society…is a key factor to success” and in that spirit, representatives of civil society were invited to review AFSI progress and share experiences in overseeing the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) and in mobilizing multi-sector action on nutrition.

In a breakthrough, the United States led AFSI donors to agree to report publicly not just how much they are spending under the $22 billion pledged at L’Aquila but also, for the first time:

  • Where their food security assistance is going (primary beneficiary countries),
  • What they are attempting to accomplish (program focus and objectives), and
  • How they are measuring progress (indicators and results to date). 

The reporting will also show each donor’s alignment with the AFSI nonfinancial commitments to do business differently, and with greater impact, in food security.

Additionally, the AFSI group discussed how to develop an effective means of tracking spending on agricultural research, extension, and education, a measure that is important for accountability, for determining gaps in research, and for assessing effectiveness. To these ends, it was agreed to form a working group under the leadership of the United States to consider both short- and long term-efforts, with the immediate objective to produce input for the Chicago G8 accountability report.

In another session, civil society representatives, including the 1,000 Days Hub and ActionAid USA, discussed the need to mobilize multi-stakeholder action on nutrition, and highlighted the importance of early nutrition interventions to food security and economic growth. AFSI members welcomed the increased attention to integrating nutrition into agriculture and food security.

Finally, as the three-year financial pledge period draws to a close in 2012, AFSI participants affirmed the enduring value of AFSI as a forum for accountability and improved aid effectiveness that should carry on at least through the United Kingdom presidency of the G8 in 2013 and presumably beyond. Participants recognized that more work remains to fulfill leaders’ L’Aquila commitment “to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security.” 

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