Historic levels of support for food security: The International Development Association

A young girl standing on the Punakha Suspension Bridge, Punakha, Bhutan. Gaurav Bagdi / Unsplash

By Jordan Teague

In December 2021, the United States joined other donor nations and institutions to pledge additional funding for the International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the World Bank that supports lower-income countries. IDA is one of the largest sources of funding for global development. The amount pledged was $23.5 billion over the next three years.

Between now and 2025, IDA will commit an historic $93 billion to help 74 countries with high rates of hunger and malnutrition meet their population’s humanitarian and development needs. U.S. leadership spurs other donors to contribute, with every $1 in U.S. contributions helping to generate nearly $4 in contributions from others.

IDA is more important than ever with the continuing surge in global hunger and malnutrition. About one third of IDA-eligible countries are facing food crises. IDA has tripled its annual funding for food security since 2008. When the COVID-19 global pandemic began to cause additional hunger in many countries, IDA responded by beginning to commit more funding to food security. Since March 2020, it has committed $5.3 billion in new investments. The round of funding just approved will sustain efforts to ease the suffering of people living with hunger and malnutrition. It includes resources to enable 400 million people to access essential health and nutrition services.

A notable improvement made in this cycle of IDA funding is a doubling of the funds allocated to early response efforts in the Crisis Response Window. As more and more people are pushed into hunger and malnutrition, early response planning and funding is increasingly necessary.

The U.S. Treasury Department led the IDA negotiations. Next, Congress must pass legislation to reauthorize U.S. participation in IDA and appropriate the funds. U.S. leadership in the World Bank and the other international financial institutions is essential to progress toward the global goal of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. Investments in multilateral funding sources work alongside U.S. bilateral assistance, which is made through agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The programs supported by the two sources of finance are often complementary. For example, IDA supported an initiative in Bhutan that is similar to projects that USAID sometimes implements. The program enabled smallholder farmers to access newer irrigation technology as well as greenhouses, both of which helped them increase their yields of vegetables, citrus fruits, apples, quinoa, and other foods with essential nutrients. They also grew more staple crops such as rice and marketable spices such as cardamom and ginger.

Bread for the World is continuing its efforts this year to ensure that policymakers are well informed about the work the international financial institutions are doing to build food security and the critical role of U.S. leadership in sustaining this work.

Jordan Teague is interim director, policy analysis and coalition building, with Bread for the World.

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