IMPLEMENTING THE GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 122
(Extensions of Remarks - July 19, 2017)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1015-E1016]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




               IMPLEMENTING THE GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY ACT

                                 ______
                                 

                       HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, July 19, 2017

  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I held a hearing to 
assess the impact of the Global Food Security Act and judge how it is 
being implemented. We examined it with an eye toward reauthorization 
later this Congress.
   By way of background, as many of you know, the Global Food Security 
Act was a standout piece of bipartisan legislation that was passed in 
the last Congress. I was the author of the House version of the bill, 
which had the support of Ms. Bass and Mr. Meadows from our 
subcommittee.
   While GFSA was only signed into law in 2016, it codified a policy 
that had a far longer history. Like the landmark PEPFAR program, it 
also bridges multiple administrations.
   By way of history, it was President Bush, who beginning in 2002, 
started to elevate the importance of food security in U.S. foreign 
policy, especially in Africa, via the Initiative to End Hunger in 
Africa (IEHA), which was funded through development assistance and 
implemented through USAID. At the same time, the Millennium Challenge 
Corporation began making substantial investments in agriculture-led 
economic growth programs, particularly in Africa.
   It was from this foundation that President Obama instituted the Feed 
the Future Initiative, launched at the G8 Meeting in L'Aquila, Italy, 
in 2009. By that time, food insecurity as a national security issue had 
come to the fore. The years 2007 through 2008 saw a rise in food prices 
across the world, and the ensuing political turmoil this caused led to 
the rise, for example, of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
   Today, we see President Trump and his administration continuing to 
implement the GFSA. We are also at a point where we can begin to assess 
the success of implementation, underscoring an important point for us 
legislators; it is never sufficient simply to pass legislation, but 
Congress has a constitutionally-mandated duty to make sure that the 
executive branch faithfully executes the laws that it passes.
   Among the things we heard about are results from our efforts. Have 
we been successful, for example, in reducing stunting, one of the key 
purposes of the Act and an outcome that is measureable?
   We also heard about the country selection process. How are countries 
that we decide to partner with chosen? What criteria do we use, and is 
the criteria measurable and objective?
   Also, how faithfully is the GFSA's mandate to work with small-holder 
farmers being implemented?
   As we look toward reauthorization, we need to ask ourselves what is 
working, what isn't working, and what can we do better to maximize the 
effect of our investment.

[[Page E1016]]

   Consider, for example, our nutrition programs aimed at mothers and 
children during the first 1,000 days of life window, from conception to 
the second birthday. We know that this period is absolutely critical 
for achieving healthy outcomes in children that stays with them 
throughout their lives, helping boost their natural immunities to ward 
off diseases and giving them a head start in life. We hope to hear from 
USAID on the successes of our nutrition interventions during the first 
1,000 days.
   But we need to ask ourselves, are we truly firing on all cylinders? 
Are we achieving the best possible results in terms of nutrition and 
stunting reduction, or are we failing to maximize our investments.
   USAID, for example, has a neglected tropical diseases program that 
addresses intestinal worms and parasites that affect close to one 
billion people. If this work, however, is siloed--if worms are not 
addressed concomitantly with our nutrition interventions--the question 
arises: Are we maximizing our nutrition interventions? In other words, 
are we feeding the future, or simply feeding the worms?
   It is relatively inexpensive to conduct deworming interventions 
among affected populations. The gains, however, can be enormous. One 
recent study on cost-effectiveness concluded that ``deworming's effect 
is robustly positive, with a weight gain per dollar spent more than 35 
times greater'' than those found in simple school feeding programs.
   Thus, we need to ask whether we are taking advantage of synergies in 
our nutrition efforts, by not only including deworming, but also 
following up with behavior changing WaSH, or water and sanitation/
health instruction. Sometimes the solution of how to keep reinfestation 
by worms from happening can be as simple as providing children with a 
pair of shoes, as worms often enter the body through a foot that comes 
into contact with infected soil, or making sure vegetables are washed 
thoroughly and peeled.
   The question for USAID is whether we are fully utilizing such 
synergies. Tomorrow, the question for us here in Congress will be what 
we can do in our reauthorization legislation to ensure that USAID is 
given the necessary direction and tools to prioritize such synergies.

                          ____________________