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FFP Sustainability and Exit Strategies Study Synthesis Report

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Food for Peace (FFP) welcomes this important and timely study from the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA) and the Tufts University study team:

Sustaining Development: A Synthesis of Results from a Four-Country Study of Sustainability and Exit Strategies among Development Food Assistance Projects

FFP commissioned this report with the objective of determining what factors enhanced the likelihood of sustained project benefits, in order to improve our guidance for future food assistance development projects. The report’s findings and resulting sustainability conceptual framework are relevant not only to FFP but to other development actors as we collectively work to end hunger and extreme poverty—aspirations at the heart of the just-launched Sustainable Development Goals and central to both USAID’s mandate and the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future global hunger and food security initiative.

FFP development projects are designed to reduce the long-term need for food assistance by strengthening the capacity of developing societies to ensure access to nutritious food for their most vulnerable communities and individuals, especially women and children. The study team looked at 12 FFP development projects across four countries and asked not only what was achieved by project’s end?; but also, what of those achievements remained one year after project close-out? and two years after?  This rigorous, retrospective approach is not widely done, but is essential if we are to understand the true impacts of our investments. To be effective, development projects must result in changes that last beyond the duration of the project themselves.

This report challenges us to take a fresh look at our project approaches: it calls for much greater focus on the issues of exit and sustainability at the time of project design, cautions that replacements for free resource transfers (including food) must be identified well before project closure; and states that some actions that drive big results during the life of the project may actually undermine sustainability in the long run. We are challenged to ask if we are willing to accept more modest results in the near term if they can be delivered in a way that will yield more sustainable gains over time.

In its 2016–2025 strategy, FFP is committing to a greater focus on sustainable results. This FANTA report has informed that product. We look forward to working with our partners to achieve our shared goal of reducing hunger and malnutrition and thank FANTA and the Tufts study team for their valuable effort. This synthesis report will be accompanied by the complete country-specific studies for Bolivia, Honduras, India, and Kenya in the coming months.