LRP Learning Alliance Overview

Background: International non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private entities who work to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, or undertake community development, have traditionally helped those in dire need all over the world through the distribution of food aid, sourced and shipped from the United States. In the past couple of years, the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Agency for International Development have started to fund an alternative approach to sourcing food aid: local and regional procurement (LRP). LRP programs provide food to beneficiaries either through organizational or beneficiary direct purchase of food items in local or regional markets. Depending on the location and situation, this can be especially efficient for programs, as food aid can average four to six months to reach the distribution destination, and can also be costly to ship, store and distribute (in some cases providing benefits to recipients worth only 50 cents on the dollar). However, LRP is only appropriate when markets are properly functioning. Monitoring and evaluation of these local and regional markets is therefore especially important, as any disruption in the market through the programs would break the "do no harm" tenet of international aid.

Goal: The LRP Learning Alliance is a partnership between Cornell University and a group of NGOs that receive funding for Local and Regional Procurement programs.  The purpose of the Alliance is to coordinate monitoring of price data to ensure that LRP programs do not negatively affect local and regional markets, and to coordinate data analysis among the various programs. It is also working to promote the process of learning and sharing about LRP programs among the greater food aid and development communities.  

Structure: The Learning Alliance was formed as an agreement between CRS, Mercy Corps, World Vision, Land O'Lakes, and Cornell University.  These agencies have all signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding outlining the expectations of the Alliance and its members. As a continually evolving alliance, it will soon expand to include Fabretto Children’s Foundation, International Relief and Development, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. 

 Activities: The main activities of the Learning Alliance have included trainings (online and regionally), database development & management, and data analysis and reporting. It is now working to share its experiences with the larger aid community. Its activities include:

·         Creation of a Global Indicator Framework.

·         Creation of data collection tools, providing technical guidance on monitoring/analyzing price data.

·         Trainings on data collection portion (Ouagadougou, Kampala, and Istanbul).

·         Analysis and reporting: Cornell University is performing the final synthesis and evaluation covering timing, cost efficacy and any market impacts. Agencies reported individually to donors. 

·         Learning and sharing: The Alliance will continue to promote learning and sharing through workshops and presentations, as possible.