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Emerging issues to be addressed in the FFP strategy update

Emerging issues to be addressed in the FFP strategy update

Posted by Patrick Coonan on 5 Jun 2014

The world has changed since Food for Peace (FFP) last went through a comprehensive strategic planning process.

  • There are new and still emerging policy changes that affect the design and implementation of emergency and development food assistance programs, including food aid reform efforts, and the use of local and regional procurement and cash programming.
  • There is new evidence, and the emergence of new practices that promise greater effectiveness in our work, including FFP's efforts around food aid quality, or the rise of now-established practices such as community-based management of acute malnutrition.
  • There is greater recognition of global challenges that threaten progress in our work such as climate change and conflict, as well as the promise and value of cross-cutting approaches such as gender integration and resilience.

What do you think are the key emerging issues FFP should be sure to address in their strategic planning process?

FFP strategic planning issues to consider: Program length

Posted by Laura M. Glaeser on 5 Jun 2014

While regulation heavily influences the established five-year length of Title II development food assistance programs, the time required for program start-up and close-out, as well as the 'normal' challenges of implementing programming among some of the world's most food insecure populations, make it incredibly challenging for Title II development program Awardees to achieve meaningful impacts and outcomes that are likely to be sustained post-program.  This challenge is amplified by USAID's broader efforts to focus on (and Title II development program Awardees' efforts to adapt) initiatives to strengthen enabling environment capacities (e.g., local institutions, national policies), increase targeted populations' resilience to shocks/stresses, and integrate programming.  Given this, one issue to consider as FFP revisits their current strategic plan is whether there are means by which to extend the life of activity for development food assistance programs beyond the current five-year limit.

FFP strategic planning issues to consider: Youth engagement

Posted by Laura M. Glaeser on 5 Jun 2014

As the demographics of countries where Title II programs typically work continue to shift toward lower median ages, the need to engage youth as key stakeholders in assistance design and delivery becomes paramount.  It would be great to see a clear emphasis on active engagement of youth in the next iteration of FFP's strategy.

Youth Engagement

Posted by Lydia Mbevi-Nderitu on 18 Jun 2014

I agree with Laura, we cannot ignore youth in our design and delivery of these programs. One of the things that has worked for us, is to engage with men and boys as champions of nutrition, sexual reproductive health and mainstreaming gender. Role models can be identified and used in the community to champion some behavior change messages.

Youth versus adolescent engagement

Posted by Jean Capps on 25 Jun 2014

The UN agencies have issued a joint statement and had high level meetings identifying adolescents 10-19, especially 10 to 14 for key health and nurition intevenions in post-2015 environment. There is no consistent definiion of "youth" across the developent sector. Many countries consider youth as continuing into the late 20's or even 30's!  Vulnerabilities are quite different between 12 year olds and 22 year olds, even when of the same gender. A life-cycle approach must work to do a better job of reaching and involvng very young adolescent girls but they have been "missed" in the majority of programs targettng "youth."  Data on the most vulnerable, girls ages 10-14 are scant and not even collected in major population-based surveys or health facity data. The UN agencies have identified this group to be targetted going forward.

It will be important to be clear in identifying the target group and why .But we must also have ways of counting them.

Jean Capps


Advancing Gender Integration

Posted by ktabaj on 6 Jun 2014

Understanding that strategy documents are used as supportive guidance and platforms for further recommendations, I would like for consideration to be given to gender integration as a focus on female empowerment with strong male engagement.  This includes

·         engaging men, women, boys, and girls equitably, paying close attention to context-specific details aiding to the success of a program

·         increasing monitoring for negative gender-related impacts and identifying recommendations/support for mitigating negative impacts resulting from strategies and activities

·         building gender aware staff in FFP-funded programming.

There is often a debate as to whether gender objectives should be cross-cutting or standalone.  NGOs have been left to develop programs as they see fit, but it would be good to have a discussion (and possibly recommendations?) on what practices have worked best in programming along with the pros and cons of each.

Additionally, dialogue is needed to explore gender integration in emergency vs recovery vs development programming and the fluctuations in between.  For example, if a development program is in place and a rapid-onset emergency occurs, how does the gender integration strategy shift?  What happens if this occurs with a slow-onset emergency (i.e. increasing instability or drought)?  Programs with gender specialists or a highly functioning gender aware staff can make adjustments accordingly, but what would this look like?  

I'm not sure how these details can be captured in a framework without being lumped as "gender integration" or "gender considerations," but I'm sure my NGO colleagues have some great ideas to contribute.

Many thanks,

Kristi Tabaj

Gender Integration

Posted by Lydia Mbevi-Nderitu on 18 Jun 2014

This is so true Kristi, and one of the weaknessess we have seen is with programs that are designed to reach pregnant women. They assume that these are gender sensitive programs because they are targeting women, but our assessment has found some issues that are causing more harm to the intended beneficiaries.


1. Some beneficiaries have to walk long distances to receive food aid - some are pregnant and disabled

2. Beneficiaries are expected to eat this food alone and yet in most vulnerable populations women eat last. Our assessment showed that food aid that was required to last 30 days was lasting one week or less.

That is why there is need to consult the community when designing these programs.

FFP strategic planning issues to consider: Understanding FFP

Posted by Bridget Ralyea on 9 Jun 2014

One component of the new FFP strategy should be educating USAID staff about Food for Peace: our contribution to resilience, our ever-expanding toolbox, the new and improved commodities we are programming, etc. When I mingle with other USAID staff at trainings, it's disturbing to find so many people who are woefully unfamiliar with the multi-sectoral, resilience-building programs our partners are implementing, our new and nutritionally enhanced commodities, and our authority to fund local and regional procurement, cash transfers, and food vouchers. I've heard any number of comments from people about how "FFP is distorting markets through monetization." People need to be enlightened.


Posted by MSmith on 9 Jun 2014

I like the move to resiliency. Farmers in Africa and elsewhere are facing the substantial impacts of climate change often with limited resources of knowlege to adapt to these changes. Strengthening a farmer's adaptive capacity and ensuring the farm family does not starve during the transition/strengthening process is a critical element in ensuring farmers stay on the farms.

One thing missing is keeping or encouraging younger farmers to stay on the farms. A taget of making subsistence farming as profitable as possible is a age old effort that started with programs in the 1960s. The key is developing an integrated strategy along the lines outlined here

  1. Crisis intervention - Emergency

An emergency assessment of a crisis or an ongoing crisis provides an optimal mechanism to address the immediate household needs and nutritional requirements. Program managers base selection of cash or vouchers on the identified objective.  Vouchers may be preferable to cash if there is sufficient commodity available locally and cash when quality control is critical and to allow the beneficiary flexibility (and to a greater extent dignity) in choosing how best to use the funds.

Vulnerability reduction  - Post crisis

Cash transfers to rebuild assets and the social safety net. In several studies, cash transfers increase household investments in productive assets and improve future resiliency. Rehabilitation or replacement of livelihoods is critical at this stage and returns the household at or above pre-crisis asset levels.

If USAID cash transfers are linked with other partner investments, the economic impact of such programs is positive and substantial, because food production increases substantially while reliance on imports are largely reduced.

The rehabilitation of assets at this point generate more pro-active households able to contribute positively to the next stage of increasing local/regional food production, improving the quality of commodities and developing locally acceptable nutritious foods. Indeed, improved household capacity may be the most attractive to the donor community as it reduces startup costs associated with follow on programming. Developing tools to define these savings will be critical to the institutionalization of market-based responses.

Disaster risk reduction - Rehabilitation

USAID, WFP and partner organizations will identify the major potential risks to the population using knowledge gained in preceding stages. A flexible strategy using climate predictions might draw on the most recent thinking on climate change to innovate resiliency and safety net programs so they are more sustainable and adaptable to the vagaries of weather patterns.

Economic strengthening - Prevention

Developing local food resources and market systems adaptable to the changes in the climate system will enable, in the best-case scenario, local responses to catastrophes. By engaging WFP/FAO and other partner agencies in overall planning early, USAID can identify resources to implement follow on programming. Beneficiaries "handed off" from earlier stages may have impetus in change adaptability programs thereby reducing start up programming, education and vulnerability assessments. I would refrain from suggesting some tweaking of earlier efforts is necessary in the hand over but firmly believe cost savings to the development effort would be substantial.

Transitioning children from food rations to local foods

Posted by joanjenn on 19 Jun 2014

The topic of how to recommend caregivers transition to optimal feeding practices once a child reaches two years of age and can no longer receive food assistance is one of the topics of interest most frequently expressed by the FSN Network Nutrition & Food Technology Task Force.  It would be useful if strategies are articulated that build on a range of options -- from Ministry of Health micronutrient supplementation USAID support for food local efforts to produce appropriate complementary foods, and more. 

From the 1,000 Days Advocacy and Interaction FS/Ag WGs

Posted by SBleggi on 19 Jun 2014

On behalf of the advocacy and operational partners of USAID/FFP who responded from these two policy working groups, I would like to submit these comments.  Please note that the comments do not reflect the suggestions of all member organizations, only those who responded.

Please also note that a number of respondents said that being asked to identify "emerging issues" based only on guidance from the 8 year-old FFP Strategic Plan was difficult, and that they hoped for additional opportunities to help shape this important document.

Scott Bleggi, Bread for the World Institute

Adolescent Nutrition:  There is growing recognition that the 1000 Days approach is key to improving nutritional outcomes (particularly stunting) and is a primary target population for Title II activities. Adolescent nutrition is being discussed more and more as an area of interest to be explored further in terms of programming and research. It would be great if specific language around adolescent nutrition could be integrated into the new strategy.


New Tools Available:  The focus of Title II is on reducing food insecurity with food aid being a primary component. The 2014 Farm Bill speaks to additional opportunities for LRP and although not yet appropriated new thinking on procurement reform this should be part of the strategy. As should be information and training commodity selection and utilizing newly developed and available food aid products. The last decade has seen a dramatic diversification of global food assistance modalities, adding local and regional purchase; cash and voucher programs; and specialized nutritional products; to the more traditional in-kind food distributions that dominated food aid in the past.  FFP has in practice done a great deal to incorporate these new tools into its programming. Its next strategic plan should spell out a long-term vision of how it will to seek to balance the use of these various food assistance tools in its future programs.


Urban Food Insecurity:  The strategy focus is rural areas but we have witnessed conflict, climate change and migration that add potential for urban areas to become more food insecure. The plan should consider and address these areas. Strategic planning for future US food assistance should take into account the likely need for more programming options focused on urban food insecurity and vulnerability.


Resiliency:  The previous FFP Strategic Plan was ahead of its time in recognizing the importance of reducing risk and vulnerability as strategic focus applicable to both FFP’s emergency and non-emergency programs.  Over the past several years this type of thinking has helped shaped the focus on “resilience”.  The next FFP strategic plan should further define and operational resilience programming to deal with new challenges (such as climate change).  It should also address how FFP can contribute to efforts by national governments to manage food risk and vulnerability through  “safety net” programs, drawing on FFP’s success in supporting Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP).


Integrating the USAID Nutrition Strategy:  The plan should reflect top-level thinking about ways in which FFP activities can link to the strategy, its objectives and intermediate results through nutrition-specific interventions and nutrition-sensitive actions.


Better Utilize and Implement End-of-year Feedback from Implementing Partners and Missions:  A simple report format (email) on successes, challenges and recommended changes, outside of formalized mid- and end-of project evaluations will allow for mid-course corrections.


Better Integration of Nutrition and Gender Issues: The strategy can outline guidance on this to Missions and require it to be an integral part of program design.


Education of HQ and field staff: Agency initiatives like Feed the Future and global initiatives like NAFSN and SUN that USAID support link emergency and development food aid to other sectoral issues. The strategy can help inform field staff as well as those in headquarters working in other bureaus


Roadmap to End Global Hunger Coalition:  This policy document, itself a strategy document, was endorsed by 50 civil society advocacy and implementing partner organizations who are USAID/FFP partners. Its “pillar recommendations” should be recognized an supported in the FFP strategy, especially on building capacity of host governments in support of national safety net and resiliency programs.


Recognize and Enshrine Current Thinking on Nutrition:  FFP has made tremendous progress on recognizing the cross-sectoral and foundational nature of improving nutrition outcomes, especially in the 1,000 days window of opportunity. The strategy must recognize these efforts and encourage that they be sustained via thoughtful programming.


Role of Civil Society Partners:  Develop the FFP Strategy in close cooperation with civil society advocacy and operational partners, as the USAID Nutrition Strategy was done.


FFP’s “New Strategic Direction” (from Sec. III of the old plan), if updated should reflect latest agency thinking on FtF, on the evidence that bundled nutrition interventions and nutrition-sensitive actions are high-return development investments, and on adding value wherever possible to other donor and country initiatives.


Likewise, Section IV E. of the old plan should be update “linkages” to the USAID Nutrition Strategy, the Global Nutrition Coordination Plan, and other internal and external agency initiatives.  It also might be the area (“New Strategic Objectives”) under which specific mention of nutrition, gender, climate change and resilience linkages can be made.


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