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Evaluation of the DG ECHO Food Aid Budget Line
November 2008 - July 2009, for DG ECHO

As part of the re-organisation of European food aid, the Food Aid budget line was transferred to DG ECHO in 2007. Historically, the international community has often mobilised and invested resources in food aid for crisis contexts (humanitarian aid) and development (structural aid). At the same time, the provision of food aid has often been controversial due to the numerous negative impacts that it can cause. Groupe URD’s evaluation aimed to draw some initial lessons from the period 2007-2008 and contribute to the continual improvement of practices.

In recent decades, changes in agricultural policy and the end of trade surpluses led to major reforms in international food aid.

It was in this context that the European Union and the European Commission began to reorganise European Food Aid, the final step being the transfer of the Food Aid Budget Line from AIDCO, where it had been since 2004, to DG ECHO in 2007. This had financial, organisational and human resource implications for DG ECHO. The international humanitarian context was itself being reorganised, with the United Nations humanitarian reform and discussions in connection with the GHDI. The Food Aid sector is also in full upheaval, and faced with new issues: the increase in demand for food, changes in production methods and climate change.

The objectives of the evaluation were:

  1. To draw initial lessons from the period 2007-2008 and contribute to the continual improvement of DG ECHO’s practices as a donor/partner which is very present in the field
  2. To increase the accountability of DG ECHO and its partners

The evaluation was carried out using both the DAC/OECD criteria and the Quality COMPAS criteria.

The evaluation concluded that, in a relatively short space of time, DG ECHO had been able to manage the budget line due to internal reorganisation (including the creation of a special unit) and had helped thinking in the food aid sector to evolve by developing a general food aid policy document drawn up in consultation with its partner NGOs.