USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Food Security

Pounds of Prevention – Focus on Malawi

“Pounds of Prevention” is a series of short articles that illustrate how disaster risk reduction works and why it is important. Take a behind-the-scenes look at aid work in action, long before the disaster occurs. How is that possible? Read on!

A farmer in Malawi demonstrates how she diverts water from a main irrigation channel to a row of crops. Photo: Helen Ho, USAID

Today’s installment, Pounds of Prevention – Focus on Malawi highlights our work in the southern parts of the country where prolonged dry conditions and macroeconomic forces have combined to drive up food prices, making it especially difficult for poor and vulnerable households to grow or buy enough to feed their families.

Throughout the past decade, however, USAID has worked to improve people’s ability to weather and recover from these types of shocks. In partnership with a variety of groups, USAID is helping farmers to access capital and credit, conserve water and soil, grow different crop varieties, and construct small-scale irrigation systems.

Results, Results, Results

Originally posted at 1,000 Days

Last week at the High-Level Meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition in New York City, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended the progress being made by the 30 countries that have committed to putting nutrition at the heart of their approach to development.  The 30 SUN countries are home to 56 million children suffering from stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition, representing more than one-quarter of the world’s stunted children.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 2nd Annual High-level Meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition. Photo credit: John Gillespie UNIC

Putting nutrition front and center

The Secretary General stressed the importance of boosting global efforts to end “the hidden disgrace of stunting.” His comments were echoed by Anthony Lake, Chairman of the SUN Lead Group and Executive Director of UNICEF, who noted that stunting is one of the most under-recognized and under-attended issues in the world today, yet it can be prevented for approximately $15 per child.

Over the past year, countries in the SUN movement have set themselves clear targets, scaled up programs targeting women and children, and put into place the necessary resources to begin to tackle to problem of malnutrition.  At the meeting, several leaders highlighted new or intensified commitments to scale up nutrition, including:

  • Peru’s First Lady, Nadine Heredia, who indicated that tackling child malnutrition is a critical pathway to breaking the cycle of poverty between generations in Peru and highlighted that the Peruvian President has signed a commitment to protect a $1 billion budget allocation for fighting child malnutrition.
  • Tamar Manuelyan Atinc, World Bank Vice President for Human Development, announced that the World Bank committed to increase investments in nutrition from $100 million per year to $560 million over the next two years which would expand the Bank’s reach into 36 countries, where 70 percent of the world’s stunted children live.
  • Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, committed to decrease stunting by 20% over five years in 14 of the 30 SUN countries:  Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.  He also highlighted results achieved with U.S. funds to date.  In Uganda, U.S. funding has meant that 50 million children received vitamin A supplementation last year, along with a 90% increase in the use of cooking fortified with Vitamin A.  Collective efforts in Tanzania have encouraged the government to hire more than 100 district nutrition officers, leading teams that have the potential to reach more than 20 million people.  An initiative with the Government of Bangladesh, CARE and 44 local organizations has created a 30 percent reduction in stunting for children under age five.

While progress at country-level to scale up nutrition has indeed accelerated since the SUN movement was born in 2010, the focus is now on results, results, results.  From now until 2015—the next critical benchmark for the SUN movement and the year the world takes stock of its progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—success will depend on the ability to translate political will into tangible and lasting improvements in rates of malnutrition.  The road ahead will likely be a challenging one as global economic problems persist, and food price crises and climactic shocks continue to threaten progress toward curbing chronic malnutrition.  This is precisely why now, more than ever, the global community must rally to mobilize unprecedented resources behind ending the “hidden disgrace” of chronic malnutrition.

Recipe: Raj and Shivam Shah’s rainbow hash browns

Originally featured on the One Campaign

Ever since ONE members started submitting recipes to our Digital Sweet Potato Cookbook, I’ve been searching for that perfect dish to cook and write about for the ONE Blog. It had to be something simple, healthy and versatile. So, when I saw USAID Administrator Raj Shah’s family recipe for rainbow hash browns, I knew I struck gold.

Picture 7

 

The Japanese have long held the belief that eating dishes with at least five colors is the key to good health — so I was pleased to see that this dish had red peppers, orange sweet potatoes, yellow corn, green peas and spinach and purple onions. Sweet potatoes and spinach are particularly nutrient-dense, and it’s foods like these that need to be on the plates of the world’s poorest children to help them grow healthy and strong.

These rainbow hash browns are great because you can eat them for almost any occasion — under a fried egg for brunch, as a side dish for roasted chicken, as a topping for bruschetta. In my case, I tossed it with some whole grain spaghetti with a little extra olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. And it’s super easy to cook. I think the hardest part was cutting the sweet potatoes up into cubes.

The Shah family didn’t include specific measurements in their recipe, so I took the liberty of adding more of what I liked (corn and peas) and less of what I didn’t (red peppers… I’ve never been a big fan!). This is the kind of dish that can’t go wrong — so I hope you give it a try just like I did. Here’s a step-by-step:

Picture 20

Rainbow Hash Browns (or Rainbow Bruschetta)
Submitted by USAID Administrator Raj Shah

Dice sweet potatoes, red bell pepper, red onion and garlic and sauté in pan (with olive oil) until sweet potatoes are slightly charred but tender.

Picture 16

Picture 13

Picture 11

Add frozen or fresh green peas and corn and sauté for a few more minutes. Add fresh chopped spinach or kale and sauté for a few more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Picture 10

Picture 9

Garnish with freshly chopped parsley or cilantro. Serve warm with eggs in lieu of traditional hash browns, or on toasted baguette for an alternative bruschetta, or simply as a hearty side dish to any tasty meal.

Picture 21

Now that sweet potatoes are on your mind, take the next step and SIGN OUR PETITION to end global child malnutrition around the world. Nutrient-dense foods like the sweet potato are a vital part of a child’s health, but far too many children don’t have access to these kinds of vegetables. So, let’s urge world leaders to make it happen:

Live at UNGA – Day Three

To see the online conversation at UNGA, visit USAID’s Storify Feed

Day three at UNGA included two marquee events spotlighting progress to date on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.  We also announced a new partnership to expand access to contraception for 27 million women and girls in low-income countries.

With only 15 months until the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline, USAID partnered on an event with the UK Department for International Development for a second year to draw attention to the importance of the global community working together to reach the MDG targets by 2015.  The event brought to life the enormous development advancements made on the way to achieving the MDGs and featured innovators from across the development community sharing transformative programs and policies.  The world has met two MDG targets ahead of the 2015 deadline – poverty has been cut by 50 percent globally and the proportion of people with no safe drinking water has been cut in half.

That afternoon, Administrator Shah co-hosted with other G8 members the New Alliance: Progress and the Way Forward event.  President Obama announced the New Alliance for Food Security & Nutrition earlier this year, in which G8 nations, African partner countries and private sector partners aim to help lift 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty in the next 10 years by supporting agricultural development. Initially launched in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania, at the event, representatives from the New Alliance, G8 countries and the private sector announced the expansion to other African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mozambique.

Finally, Administrator Shah took part in the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children. Prior to the meeting, Dr. Shah joined the Commission Co-Chairs, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, alongside former President Bill Clinton, to launch a new partnership to make a safe, effective, long-acting, reversible method of contraception available to more than 27 million women in the world’s poorest nations. Under the agreement, Bayer is reducing by more than half the current 18 USD price of its long-acting, reversible method of contraception, Jadelle, in return for a commitment to assure funding for at least 27 million contraceptive devices over the next six years.  Dr. Shah stated, “The US Agency for International Development is proud to have funded the development of this life-saving product. Today is a major step forward to making this product more accessible to millions of women, empowering them with the ability to make decisions about their health and family.”

As always, follow us live on Twitter to keep up with the latest developments!

5 More Questions about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition

Tjada McKenna is the Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future and Jonathan Shrier is Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security and Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy for Feed the Future.

This post was originally featured on FeedtheFuture.gov

Women and children pick green beans at the Dodicha Vegetable Cooperative in Ethiopia. The beans will be sold to a local exporter, who will sell them to supermarkets in Europe. Credit: K. Stefanova/USAID

In May 2012 we answered a few of the most common questions about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in the blog post Five Questions about the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. This blog post follows with additional answers to other common questions about the New Alliance and progress.

1. What has happened with the New Alliance since the G8 announced it at the Camp David Summit in May 2012?

While it has only been a few months, we’re excited about the progress and momentum of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which is a unique partnership between African governments, members of the G8, and the private sector to work together to accelerate investments in agriculture to improve productivity, livelihoods and food security for smallholder farmers. This New Alliance aims to raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through sustained and inclusive agricultural growth.

In May, President Obama launched the New Alliance with three initial countries—Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania. Each partner country developed a Country Cooperation Framework outlining key commitments by governments, donors, and the private sector. These commitments totaled more than $3 billion from more than 45 African and multinational companies.

Over the past 4 months, 21 additional private sector companies, most of them African, signed letters of intent, committing themselves to invest an additional $500 million in African agriculture—and more companies are lining up to sign letters of intent.

We’ve been very encouraged that despite some unexpected and difficult leadership transitions in Ghana and Ethiopia, the governments of all three initial New Alliance countries demonstrated continued country ownership, hosting New Alliance planning meetings. A wide range of stakeholders, including senior government officials, the private sector, and civil society met to discuss:

  • The alignment of New Alliance activities with existing country plans, processes and institutions.
  • Progress against policy reform commitments to create a positive enabling environment for the private sector.
  • Coordination of all partners to achieve shared objectives.
  • Priority-setting to show tangible outcomes and progress in the near term.
  • A way forward with tracking New Alliance implementation in each country.

And three more African countries have developed—jointly with private sector and G8 partners—their own Country Cooperation Frameworks. Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Mozambique officially announced these new frameworks on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York City in September 2012.

2. What is the relationship between the Feed the Future initiative and the New Alliance?

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a commitment made by the G8 leaders to work in close partnership with African governments and the private sector toward a common goal to raise productivity and address global food security, nutrition and poverty. As a G8 member, the United States contributes to this new global partnership through whole-of-government efforts such as President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future.

Feed the Future embodies many of the core principles of the New Alliance, including:

  • Strengthening and building upon existing country plans and processes.
  • Coordinating and collaborating with other donors to create transformative change in a country.
  • Leveraging innovation and private sector investment to transform agricultural value chains for smallholder farmers, especially women.

3. How does nutrition factor in to the New Alliance?

The United States and other G8 members are committed to improving global nutrition, especially for women and children. And we recognize that nutrition interventions historically have high rates of return on impacting development.

In the context of the New Alliance, the G8 committed to:

  • Actively support the Scaling Up Nutrition movement and welcome the commitment of African partners to improve the nutritional well-being of their populations, especially during the critical first 1,000 days from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday.
  • Improve tracking and disbursements for nutrition across sectors and ensure coordination of nutrition activities across sectors.
  • Support the accelerated release, adoption and consumption of biofortified crop varieties, crop diversification, and related technologies to improve the nutritional quality of food in Africa.
  • Develop a nutrition policy research agenda and support the efforts of African institutions, civil society and private sector partners to establish regional nutritional learning centers.

4. How will the New Alliance ensure that partners uphold their commitments?

In order to implement and track progress of the New Alliance over time, we are implementing a new approach to development that enlarges the development sphere beyond the donor and partner government paradigm to include private sector and civil society actors and build upon existing effective and collaborative accountability initiatives. Impact for smallholder farmers and women at the country level drives this new approach.

The New Alliance is committed to mutual accountability of all partners, and partners have expressed a strong desire to ensure that activities and investments are consistent with the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security and the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment.

The New Alliance intends to build on the accountability work of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program and L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, which respectively track the commitments, investments and impacts of African governments and donors. At the Camp David Summit, the G8 agreed to convene a Leadership Council to drive and track implementation. This Council will report to the G8 and African Union on progress toward achieving the commitments under the New Alliance, including commitments made by the private sector.

The G8 also agreed to report to the 2013 Summit on the implementation of the New Alliance (including the actions of the private sector) in collaboration with the African Union. The Leadership Council convened its first meeting in September 2012 and continues to discuss options about how to best ensure mutual accountability.

5. Why does the New Alliance focus on Africa? What is the United States doing to improve food security elsewhere in the world?

As part of our commitment to do development differently and work in partnership behind country-led plans, the New Alliance is working in partnership to strengthen African commitments to promote and protect food security and nutrition—articulated in multiple settings since 2003 and validated by tremendous progress made in Africa since 2009.

Africa is home to seven of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies and the rate of return on foreign investment is higher in Africa than in any other developing region. Doing business in Africa makes good business sense. It is a growing place of opportunity for both business and agriculture. The New Alliance is combining smart assistance with leveraged private sector investments in African agriculture to benefit both resource-poor smallholder farmers and increase private sector growth.

While the New Alliance focuses on Africa, the U.S. Government also works to improve food security—in partnership with countries—throughout the world through the Feed the Future initiative.

Read more about the New Alliance on the Feed the Future website.

Tjada McKenna is Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future and Jonathan Shrier is Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security and Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy for Feed the Future

USAID Book Club: A Farewell to Alms

Fall semester @USAID banner image

As part of USAID’s Fall Semester, we will host an online book club for our readers this fall. The Impact Blog will post suggestions from our senior experts at USAID to suggest a book on important issues in international development.  We’ll provide you and your book club with the reading suggestions and discussion questions, and you tell us what you think! Our fall reading list will  explore solutions to the most pressing global challenges in international development—mobile solutions, poverty, hunger, health, economic growth, and agriculture.

This week’s choice comes from: USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah

Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 8,000 professionals in 80 missions around the world.

Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 8,000 professionals in 80 missions around the world.

Book: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, by Gregory Clark

Synopsis: The source of human progress has long been a subject of debate. What makes rich countries rich, and poor countries poor? In the this book,  University of California, Davis, Economist Gregory Clark offers a provocative take on the age-old question, arguing that it was culture—rather than geography, natural resources or centuries of exploitation—that left some parts of the globe behind.

According to Clark, relative stability and effective workforces enabled certain societies to take better advantage of the Industrial Revolution’s new technologies and opportunities. Those countries with lax systems or undisciplined workers lost ground, and stayed there.

Clark’s book is skeptical of whether the poorest parts of the world will ever achieve real progress. For development professionals, it offers up a challenge to the belief that outside intervention can help bridge the vast economic divide between rich and poor.

Review:  This book impacted me because it shows how for hundreds, or even thousands, of years basic economic progress was largely stagnant. You didn’t have rapid compound increases in living standards until the Industrial Revolution when some countries and some societies got on a pathway towards growth – towards better health, longer life expectancy, higher income per person and more investment in education. Others remained on a slower-moving pathway.

That great divergence, and the study of it, is at the core of development. It is that divergence that we try to learn from and correct for. We define success in development as helping communities and countries get on that pathway towards improved health and education, and greater wealth creation.

I didn’t choose this book because I think it is the definitive story on development, but rather because I share its focus on core economic growth as the driver of divergence.

I disagree where Clark concludes that some societies failed to take advantage of the availability of modern technology because their cultures were antagonistic to development. With the right conditions in place, you can unlock a formidable work ethic from a range of different cultures and communities. The last 50 years have shown us that. By investing in local capacity and local institutions, we can leave a legacy of economic infrastructure, strong and capable leadership, and transparent, effective public and private sector institutions.

USAID’s partnerships in Latin America helped country after country develop strong institutions. The same can be said for South Korea. Unfortunately, there have been examples where aid and assistance have been provided in a manner that was not as sensitive to building lasting local capacity and institutions. This is true for all partners, not just our Agency. That’s why we’ve launched a program called USAID Forward, to refocus on working in a way that will create durable and sustained progress.

Administrator Shah is on Twitter at @rajshah. You  can also “Ask the Administrator” your questions on Crowdhall

Discussion Questions

1. Do you agree with Clark that some societies failed to take advantage of the availability of modern technology because their cultures were antagonistic to development?

2. The Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Solow has said Clark does not take into account how institutional factors, such as cronyism, inequitable taxation and ineffectual government cripple development. What role do you think these institutional factors play?

3. Clark challenges how effective outside intervention can be in helping poor nations progress. Do you agree?

4. Regardless of why some nations have fallen behind, how do you think they can bridge that gap today?

5. Has your world view changed after reading this book and how?

Get Involved: Use the comments section of this blog post to share your answers, or tweet them to us at #fallsemester

Building Our Legacy

Originally posted at Feed the Future.

A week ago, against the backdrop of the Olympics, I witnessed history. I was there not for the Games, but for the Global Hunger Event, which was co-hosted by U.K. Prime Minister Cameron and Brazil Vice President Temer.

The event brought civil society and private sector partners together with leaders from across the globe—and even a few Olympic heroes including in incomparable Mo Farah—to commit to championing for change against global hunger.

At the top of the list of priorities that emerged: Making significant gains against undernutrition before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Just as is true for Olympians to be at their best, we know that adequate nutrition—especially in the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday—is key to a healthy, productive life. However, two billion people in the world, including nearly 200 million children under 5 years of age, suffer from undernutrition and its irreversible effects.

The good news? We can change this. And we are already taking the steps needed to do so.

Through Feed the Future, we support countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur inclusive economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger and poverty. We are integrating nutrition and agriculture programs, and have set ambitious targets that contribute to the World Health Assembly’s new global goal to reduce the number of stunted children by 40 percent by 2025.

If it sounds like a big undertaking, it is. We have the know-how and tools to make a difference. But we can’t do this work alone. We need strong global partnerships to champion that our generation’s legacy should include the not “heroic,” but simply “human,” act of ending huger.

It’s why we work with partners like Pepsi, HarvestPlus, DSM, and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition to foster private sector-led innovation and public-private partnerships that can strengthen agriculture value, spur productivity, and develop more nutritious foods that are accessible to the poor. And we know that our civil society and NGO partners are critical to making this a reality.

That spirit of partnership is what drives the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which was announced by President Obama just prior to the G8 Summit this year. A commitment by G8 nations, African partner countries and private sector partners to support agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa, the New Alliance aims to lift 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty in the next 10 years.

What I realized at the Global Hunger Event was that the momentum we’ve all created—through Feed the Future, the New Alliance, and this event—is real. Next year, the G8 presidency will transition from the United States to our friends in the United Kingdom, and I couldn’t be more thrilled that food security and nutrition, as evidenced by the Global Hunger Event, will continue to be a clear priority.

In the days ahead, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania will host workshops to kick off New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Cooperation Frameworks. These workshops will bring host-country government partners, African and G8 country government officials, international donors, private sector partners, and civil society groups together to focus on the implementation of actions to accelerate country plans and priorities for improved food security and nutrition.

The fact that so many leaders from so many sectors are committed and working together toward a common goal is groundbreaking. It is the stuff of history. In our day-to-day routine, it’s easy to get caught up in the details and miss the big picture: We’re making progress on incredibly urgent and important issues like hunger, poverty and undernutrition.

If we all continue to champion these efforts, and work alongside our colleagues, partners, and heroes to fight hunger, what will our legacy be?

Investing in Africa’s Smallholder Farmers

Recently, an idea has circulated that there is a fundamental contradiction between President Obama’s model for African agriculture and the model set out by the distinguished Africa Progress Panel (APP) under Kofi Annan’s leadership.  As head of the USAID Bureau leading a major part of the President’s Feed the Future initiative, an unprecedented effort supporting smallholder agriculture, nutrition and food security, I would like to present a differing opinion. The argument assumes that the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is meant to bring what has been called “giant agribusiness” into Mozambique.

The New Alliance is actually about increasing the financial resources, technical capabilities and access to markets and new technologies required to help smallholder African farmers become successful, grow more food, increase their incomes and thereby help lift 50 million people out of poverty.

Why is Feed the Future’s approach focused around helping smallholder farmers? Evidence in poor countries from around the world demonstrates that smallholder agriculture can be more efficient than large farms, and that investment in improving smallholder agriculture is the best way to create income at the grassroots level, generating demand for goods and services that create a broader base of jobs and incomes in rural areas.

Creating these opportunities for smallholder farmers – giving them the means and technologies to move into 21st Century, high-productivity farming – requires the investment and market savvy that the private sector brings to agriculture. We have learned from experience and recognize that private sector entities – as suppliers of agricultural inputs, buyers and processers of agricultural products, marketers of finished commodities, and sources of beneficial new technologies – must be front-and-center in any sustainable approach to improving the opportunities and incomes of Africa’s smallholder farmers.

Involving the private sector also contributes to solving another problem: inadequate investment in Africa. Despite the US$1 billion in annual support that the President has provided for smallholder agriculture since 2009, donor funding cannot and should not be the primary source of funding for Africa’s economic growth, a point on which Annan’s Panel agrees. At best, donor resources are only catalytic, paving the way for sustained and responsible private investment.

The APP and President Obama are both concerned about increasing the pace of private investment to contribute to the growth rates required for sustained poverty reduction in Africa. One early result of the New Alliance is commitments by private companies (including Cargill and 47 other international and African-owned companies) to more than US$3 billion worth of new agricultural investments in Africa. Some of these are American and international multinational firms, all of whom have committed to the spirit of the Principles of Responsible Agricultural Investment and the U.S. Government-chaired FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Tenure of Land, Water, and Forestry in the Context of Food Security, but many of them are also local companies of varying size, not “giant agribusiness.”  Of the companies investing in land, the primary model is using a smallholder contract farming or outgrower model.  Further, all companies in the New Alliance have committed to working with smallholder farmers, with current targets of reaching at least four million farmers.

Agriculture is a complex and risky undertaking; for that reason, many private firms don’t feel comfortable investing in African agriculture as opposed to other economic opportunities. The ability of the G8, under President Obama’s leadership this year, to leverage $3 billion in private investment into the sector should be the beginning of the much greater investment that Africa needs to achieve the growth targets of the African Union and the APP and to reduce poverty.

However, we do agree there is potential danger of smallholder farmers losing out from careless, poorly planned investment and the need for rigorous safeguards, and we will work hard to ensure fairness and a laser-like focus on improving the lives of smallholder farmers. But President Obama’s approach, the G8 New Alliance and the African Progress Panel under Kofi Annan’s leadership are not in disagreement. All three agree that the private sector can bring to bear investment, technologies and innovative spirit to benefit Africa. This will help create the opportunities, access and markets that Africa’s smallholder farmers must have in order to thrive and grow, and will establish the basis for even faster growth and higher incomes. We must support and embrace responsible private-sector investment in African agriculture in order to achieve these goals as soon as possible.

Championing a Food-Secure Future

Paul Weisenfeld is the Assistant to the Administrator for Food Security

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.

USAID Hosts Annual Ramadan Iftar

Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 8,000 professionals in 80 missions around the world.

Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 8,000 professionals in 80 missions around the world.

Last night, together with USDA, we hosted our 10th annual Iftar—a tradition also reflected in the field as Missions host dinners in recognition of this important time. As President Obama has said, Ramadan is a chance to honor a faith known for its diversity and commitment to the dignity of all human beings. A faith deeply rooted in its commitment to caring for the less fortunate and reaching out to those in greatest need.

These are values that are reflected in the founding of our own nation, the vibrancy of our diverse national community, and in the work USAID does every day across the world.

Around this time last year, we were working together to respond to devastating drought in the Horn of Africa and address the urgent needs of 13.3 million people across Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya. Although the worst of this particular crisis is over, we know that 1 billion people still go to bed hungry every night across the world. And we know that there are steps we can take right now to alleviate hunger and malnutrition and lay the foundation for a safer, more prosperous future.

That is the vision of Feed the Future,  President Obama’s global food security initiative that brings together the expertise of a range of U.S. agencies. Today, we are:

  • Bridging our long-standing commitment to humanitarian assistance and food aid with increased investment in agriculture, nutrition, and governance;
  • Harnessing the power of science and technology to deliver transformational agricultural research, like drought and disease-resistant tolerant seeds;
  • Supporting safety nets and innovative insurance programs that are the backbone of farming in the United States.

We are also working to dramatically increase private sector investment in agriculture—bringing companies, local smallholder farmers, and partner governments together to lift 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty and hunger in a decade.  So far, more than 45 global and local companies have committed more than $4 billion—to expand seed production and distribution, establish small-scale irrigation systems, and source for food for global supply chains.

Our focus on strengthening food security isn’t just limited to Africa. In the Middle East, we’re working closely with smallholder famers to improve the efficiency of water and land use. This effort is especially critical in a region already classified as water scarce—which possesses less than one percent of the world’s renewable freshwater resources. At the same time, population growth rates in the region are averaging over 2 percent, increasing pressure and competition for resources.

Launched in 2010, the Middle East Water and Livelihoods Initiative works across eight countries to connect American universities and their local counterparts with the smallholder farmers who need that information the most, spurring joint research on important issues like desalination, irrigation, and energy with the ultimate goal of helping farmers grow more food with less water.

Challenges like water conservation and food security are immense, but we know that we are more than equal to the task if we harness the ingenuity, passion, and commitment across the world.

That’s the idea behind open source development. Development that doesn’t dictate answers, but paves the way by bringing the creativity of the entire global development community to bear on today’s problems.

By doing so, we not only overcome the greatest challenges of our time, we continue to lift up the values that are celebrated during the month of Ramadan—and that we carry with us every day in our work.

Page 10 of 20:« First« 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 »Last »