Dining Room program feeds people five days a week. Audit wondered what they they eat on the other two days. Community Kitchens program feeds people five days a week. Audit questioned what people did on the other two days.

Audit finds issues with anti-hunger crusade

Program has failed to provide long-term solution to food poverty

A federal anti-hunger initiative has failed to achieve its primary goal of providing a long-term solution to extreme food poverty in Mexico, according to the Federal Auditor’s Office (ASF).

The National Crusade Against Hunger (CNCH) was announced by President Enrique Peña Nieto in December 2012 and officially launched the following month at an event in Chiapas.

The flagship initiative of the Secretariat of Social Development (Sedesol) had five main objectives:

• Zero hunger through adequate food availability.

• Eliminate childhood malnutrition.

• Boost food production and income of small farmers.

• Reduce post-harvest losses by improving infrastructure.

• Promote community participation toward the eradication of hunger.

But according to the final ASF public accounts report for 2016, the 30 CNCH programs operated by Sedesol did not guarantee the eradication of hunger among 6.1 million people that were identified as living in situations of extreme food poverty.

It also said that the federal secretariat failed to adequately follow up on the implementation of its programs.

“[Sedesol] did not verify to what extent the deficiencies of each of the people in extreme poverty were met, or that its attention allowed them to come out of that situation,” the report read.

Three programs had no funding for their implementation and seven didn’t solve any social need of the beneficiaries, the auditor’s office said.

The ASF also said that 18 of the programs made no record of the initial situation in which their beneficiaries were living and therefore it wasn’t possible to determine what impact their measures had.

Because Sedesol didn’t provide information about the socioeconomic situation of the 6.1 million program recipients, it is also unknown whether all were in situations of extreme food poverty, the ASF said.

The report stated that the Community Dining Room Program, one of the main CNCH projects, had flaws in its design that affected both its implementation and effectiveness.

One example cited was that community kitchens only operated five days a week, meaning that beneficiaries might have gone hungry on the other two days.

The ASF added that Sedesol failed to report the total budget that had been allocated to the anti-hunger crusade. Consequently, it could not determine the level of budgetary compliance with the initiative.

News of the crusade’s inadequacies adds to the woes currently faced by the Secretariat of Social Development after other irregularities were revealed in the ASF’s 2016 report.

The federal auditor said that Sedesol made welfare payments to 17,000 dead people in 2016 and that it was one of two secretariats that together diverted more than 1.3 billion pesos of public funds via payments to bogus companies.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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