We’ve seen a lot of amazing feats the past few days as the 2012 Olympics take place in London. Team USA (and maybe I’m a little biased) has been particularly impressive: The U.S. women’s soccer team wins its third consecutive gold medal while team player Abby Wambach joins the agency’s team as our first Development Champion, where she will raise awareness about USAID’s work to improve the lives of young women and girls through sport around the world. Michael Phelps becomes the most decorated Olympian of all time. Allyson Felix gets her gold. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings establish themselves as the greatest beach volleyball duo of all time. And the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, complemented by Gabby Douglas’ bright smile, steals our hearts as they support each other to seal a spot in history. It’s a wonderful moment to take pause and feel proud to be an American – and a global citizen.
And as the Olympics draw to a close, the UK, which takes presidency of the G8 next year, is hosting a Global Hunger Event to channel the Olympic spirit to inspire us all to remember that all children deserve a chance to achieve their dreams. With a focus on food security and nutrition, the event is symbolic of renewed – and critical – global attention to the issue of hunger. It is also another reason for Americans – and citizens all across the globe – to feel proud.
Since the 2009 G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, where President Obama called on global leaders to focus efforts on advancing global food security, we have made great strides in helping some of the most vulnerable communities become more prosperous and healthier by strengthening their agricultural sectors. We’re supporting these efforts in the U.S. through Feed the Future, the President’s signature global hunger and food security initiative.
With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger and poverty. It also reduces undernutrition, which limits the potential of children and communities. We should be particularly proud to support this effort and our focus on improving nutrition especially in the 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday, which is so critical to cognitive and physical development.
Our efforts are driven by country-led priorities and rooted in partnership with donor organizations, the private sector, and civil society to enable long-term success. This past May at the 2012 G8 Summit, President Obama announced a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which aims to lift 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty in the next 10 years. We are proud to support this effort through Feed the Future, and excited that New Alliance Cooperation Frameworks will be launched in the weeks ahead in Ethiopia, Ghana , and Tanzania, which will solidify this joint commitment at the country level.
We are also excited to build on the progress we’ve made so far. With our support, for example, rice farmers in the poorest region of Bangladesh have yielded their first-ever surplus of rice; we’re boosting milk production in Malawi; and we’re harnessing the power of science and technology to deliver transformational agricultural research, like drought and disease-resistant tolerant seeds, so that we can help reduce devastating crises like last year’s drought in the Horn of Africa.
There is still much work to do both around the world and here at home. We are reminded of this now, as our thoughts are with U.S. farmers and ranchers across the United States during a time of significant drought. Right now, USDA is focused on helping producers who are impacted, and has worked with the Obama Administration to strengthen rural America, maintain a strong farm safety net, and create opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers.
So maybe I am a little biased. But I’m proud that we can support each other and nations around the world. As we cheer on the accomplishments of the athletes who have convened in London, we should celebrate our collective achievements to date in helping make the world a little brighter. And we should commit to staying the course so that for all of us, the future is golden.