Learn more about Abebaw’s story and view the full photoset on Flickr.
Archives for Food Security
Originally posted at the Huffington Post.
This weekend in Sana’a, I had dinner with a group of young men and women activists who are on the forefront of Yemen’s historic struggle for a better future. They turned out for change with great courage last year, and at dinner, with great eloquence they outlined for me the many challenges facing Yemen during this critical transition period: conflict in the north and south, weak government institutions, cultural barriers to greater women’s participation, an upended economy, and one of the world’s highest birthrates. And, as one man noted, it is difficult to engage the 70 percent of Yemeni people who live in rural areas in dialogue about the future when they are struggling just to find the basics of life: food, health, water.
His comment makes plain the rising, complex humanitarian crisis facing Yemen. At a time of historic political transition, nearly half of Yemen’s population is without enough to eat, and nearly 1 million children under the age of 5 are malnourished, putting them at greater risk of illness and disease. One in 10 Yemeni children do not live to the age of 5. One in 10. This is a staggering and often untold part of the Yemen story: a story of chronic nationwide poverty that has deepened into crisis under the strain of continuing conflict and instability.
Unfortunately, in communities used to living on the edge, serious malnutrition is often not even recognized in children until they are so acutely ill that they need hospitalization.
On Saturday I visited Al Sabeen Hospital, where I met Amina, a 2-year-old girl who weighs a scant 11 pounds. She had enormous eyes and was silently perched on the side of the hospital bed, supported by her mother. The nurse caring for her told me the government of Yemen had just cut the hospital budget by 20 percent as it grapples with an economic crisis, forcing them to lay off critical staff.
While there, I announced an additional contribution of USAID humanitarian assistance, bringing the U.S. contribution this year to nearly $80 million, which enables us to increase families’ access to food, health, nutrition, and water sanitation programs. We have provided previous support to the more than 550,000 displaced Yemenis, and we are rapidly expanding our assistance to reach those in need throughout the country.
Originally posted at Feed the Future.
1. What is the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, and who is participating?
The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a commitment by G-8 members, African countries, and private sector partners to achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth to lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years. It builds upon the progress and commitments made in 2009 at the L’Aquila G-8 Summit, and offers a broad and innovative path to strengthen food security and nutrition.
The New Alliance includes specific commitments from:
- African leaders to refine policies in order to improve investment opportunities and drive their country-led plans on food security;
- Private sector partners, who have collectively committed more than $3 billion to increase investments; and
- G-8 members, who will support Africa’s potential for rapid and sustained agricultural growth, and ensure accountability for the New Alliance.
2. Does the New Alliance mean that the U.S. and other G-8 members will not meet their 2009 L’Aquila commitments?
Not at all! The New Alliance builds upon the G-8 commitments made at L’Aquila in 2009 and represents the next phase of investment in food security and nutrition. The L’Aquila effort in 2009 was critical in reversing decades of neglect of African agriculture by donors and governments. We’re going to sustain the commitments we made three years ago, and we’re going to speed things up, as President Obama has noted.
L’Aquila showed that we can marshal aid resources and that African countries can develop credible, comprehensive plans. But we need to accelerate our progress, which the New Alliance will do by mobilizing private capital, taking innovation to scale, and managing risk.
It’s important to keep in mind that the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative was about so much more than just money – it was a new way of doing development. Initiative leaders agreed to put their money behind country plans that had been developed and were owned by the developing countries themselves, and to increase investment in research and development, to better coordinate efforts, and to act both bilaterally and through multilateral institutions.
Read the G-8 Accountability Report, which tracks G-8 progress on fulfilling L’Aquila pledges.
3. What kinds of private sector companies are participating in the New Alliance?
The more than 45 companies making commitments at this time include both large and small American, African, and international companies. Most of the participating companies and associations have missions associated with agriculture or finance. A full list of the companies can be found here.
4. How much does this cost, and where is the money coming from?
President Obama announced last week that more than 45 international and African companies have committed more than $3 billion to specific agricultural investments spanning all areas of the agricultural value chain, including seed systems, fertilizer, irrigation, crop protection, extension and training, post-harvest processing and storage, agricultural financing, and infrastructure. This is new money committed by the private sector at the 2012 G-8 Summit and builds on public sector commitments made in 2009.
At the L’Aquila G-8 Summit, member countries and others pledged more than $22 billion for agricultural development and at the 2012 G-8 Summit they affirmed continued commitment to sustaining and disbursing these funds. The New Alliance will channel those efforts into the most innovative and productive ways possible to maximize results.
As a way to channel funds committed at L’Aquila three years ago, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) was set up as a unique partnership between donors, partner countries, civil society, and multilateral development institutions to scale up financing for agriculture in the poorest countries. It provides financing through a competitive process to countries that have technically sound agricultural development strategies in place.
The GAFSP has awarded $481 million to 12 countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and will award approximately $180 million more this week. The United States, which has contributed $301.4 million to the GAFSP, is likely to complete its $475 million pledge in the next year. We continue to support this innovative program as part of our commitment not only to food security but also to country-led processes and multilateral involvement.
Last week, the G-8 set a goal of securing $1.2 billion over three years in further contributions to the GAFSP from new and existing donors. The United Kingdom has publicly pledged $120 million toward this goal.
5. Which African countries are involved, and what are they committing?
At the 2012 G-8 Camp David Summit, the New Alliance initially launched in Ghana, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, and will expand rapidly to other African countries, including Mozambique, Cote D’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. These countries are participating in the Grow Africa Partnership, a joint initiative with the African Union and the World Economic Forum to support the private sector component of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). Over time, the New Alliance will expand to other African countries that have demonstrated an interest and willingness to participate in the process.
These African countries have committed to major policy changes that open doors to more private sector trade and investment, such as strengthening property rights, supporting seed investments, and opening trade opportunities. G-8 members identified development assistance funding aligned behind these nations’ own country investment plans for agriculture, and private sector firms have laid out investment plans in the agricultural sectors of these countries.
Be sure to check out Feed the Future’s one-stop shop on G-8 announcements for more information.
Written by Brendan Rice, Student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Originally posted at the Universities Fighting Global Hunger Blog.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ annual symposium, Advancing Food and Nutrition Security at the 2012 G8 Summit, brought together G8 and African leaders, international organizations, businesses, and civil society to emphasize the importance of agricultural development and nutrition security.
As a student and a member of the growing Universities Fighting World Hunger movement, this event was incredibly powerful and motivating. As students, we frame hunger as a structural issue. Food price volatility and under-investment in agricultural sectors of developing countries are structural issues that continue the crisis of hunger. These underlying causes of hunger can seem infinitely enormous and complex, but the symposium leading up to the G8 Summit at Camp David gives context and invigorates the work that we all do towards making hunger a distant memory. At the symposium, leaders including President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and the rock star, Bono, showed that advancing food security is a priority. The work that we do on our campuses is not done in isolation. Instead, we are tapping into an energy that is now emanating from the highest levels of power.
At the symposium, President Obama laid out the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which builds off of the commitments made at L’Aquila. The new phase of this shared initiative towards global food security focuses on empowering agricultural growth through country plans, private sector involvement, and G8 commitments.
Framing hunger as a solvable problem is central to the work that we do as students. As a human family, we have the tools, resources, and knowledge to end hunger in our world of plenty. This issue is not necessarily about coming up with a solution. Instead, it is about advancing the steps we already know work to end hunger through creating the public and political will to do so. The symposium and Obama’s announcement set up a framework of global imperatives.
Despite the diverse ideas and sectors represented, there were a number of themes that emerged throughout the symposium, many of which were clearly outlined in Secretary Clinton’s closing speech. These included a focus on smallholder farmers, nutrition with a focus on the first 1000 days of life, and the importance of women in food security. The heads of state of Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania all made clear the importance of investing in the agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers, many of whom are women.
The framework is in place, and now it is time to move towards action. During his speech at the symposium, President Obama called for “all hands on deck.” Students and future leaders are central to maintaining the commitments made and continuing to demand a food-secure world. Secretary Clinton laid out the challenge succinctly in her speech at the symposium. By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on the planet, and agricultural productivity must increase by 70 percent in order to keep pace. Bono stated that this challenge can and will be met, but not without Africa. Bono reminded us that the issue of hunger sears our collective conscience, so as a collective soul, this challenge is one that we must confront.
Representing students from around the world, Universities Fighting World Hunger is moving through strong conviction and grounded motivation to end hunger. To borrow a thought from Secretary Clinton, what can hold us back can be as simple as “plain old inertia.” In this we find hope because as part of the next generation of leaders, the inertia of the morally outrageous status quo of 1 billion people going hungry will be replaced by the exhilarating possibility of a fair and just global food system.
Gayle Smith is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council and Dr. Rajiv Shah is USAID Administrator. This item was originally posted on the White House Blog.
This weekend, the leaders of the world’s largest economies and four African heads of state will come together at the 2012 G8 Summit at Camp David for a very different kind of discussion on Africa. Joined by private sector leaders for the first time, the President will host a dynamic discussion on global efforts to fight food insecurity and improve nutrition. In 2009 at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, President Obama and G8 leaders responded to the spike in world food prices and focused attention on strengthening food security to help countries end hunger. Reversing decades of decline in global agricultural development, L’Aquila committed leaders to supporting comprehensive plans designed by the developing countries themselves and built around smarter, more focused investments.
This weekend, the G-8 and African partners will launch the next phase of these efforts: theNew Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. The New Alliance is a commitment by G8 nations, African countries and private sector partners to lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth.
Across history, the private sector has served as an engine of growth and transformation in nearly every country in the world. But although foreign direct investment flows to Africa now hover around $80 billion and trade has tripled over the last decade, this private sector boom has largely missed Africa’s agricultural economy.
This transformation – from aid alone to aid AND private investment; from just providing assistance to combining assistance and investment – is at the heart of our approach to the next steps of food security and why we’re placing such an emphasis on bringing in private capital and expanding access to markets.
More than 45 private sector firms—from large multinational companies like Yara International to small local businesses like Ethiopia’s Omega Farms—have stepped forward to invest more than $3 billion in African agriculture. And building on a decade of strong leadership, African countries are committing to specific policy reforms that shape a better environment for business.
Alongside them, donor countries are seeking to maintain their investments and accelerate implementation of country-owned plans. We are also supporting new advances in science and technology, like highly nutritious seeds that can withstand droughts and thrive in floods, and new tools to help poor farmers manage risk. And the New Alliance is elevating an emphasis on undernutrition, which robs children of their lifelong potential and undermines investments in education, health and economic growth.
With this smart approach, working together, we can deliver real results for millions of families and help build a safer, more prosperous future for us all.
Close to a billion people worldwide go to bed hungry every night, and at least six out of ten are women. It’s ironic, because women in developing countries are largely responsible for feeding their children and growing the food that will feed their families. Around the world, the traditional image of a farmer is not a man on a tractor but a woman farming a piece of land about the size of a three-car garage.
That’s why we’re excited that governments, civil societies, universities, and private companies have begun investing in long-term programs to combat hunger and invest in farmers worldwide. Through the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, women are being recognized as playing a major role in tackling global hunger.
Over the next few days, G8 leaders from the world’s biggest economies will meet on critical global issues, including the challenge of feeding the world’s seven billion people. Here are seven things we at Women Thrive believe any program—whether from government, an NGO or private company– have to do to succeed by reaching women.
- Work with female farmers, who often play very different roles than men in agriculture. Women often grow different crops, work at different times of day and have different priorities than male farmers. Coming up with a one-size-fits-all program usually means you don’t reach women farmers.
- Ensure property rights for women, so that they can actually own the land they farm and gain control over their crops. Over and over, I’ve seen that women work on the farm, but don’t see the income from it because it’s usually men who own the land and take the crops to market to sell.
- Increase access to credit and financial services, so that women can properly save, and purchase seeds, fertilizer, and other tools to increase their productivity.
- Provide women farmers with time and labor-saving tools, which would make farming, cooking, and marketing easier and would allow women to carry out their household and childcare responsibilities more efficiently.
- Enhance transportation and technology infrastructure such as irrigation and roads, which would save women time and increase their income. But make sure they are roads from villages to local markets, not just four-lane highways from export-processing zones to ports.
- Expand skills training to women farmers so that they are more successful and productive in their work. And that might mean going to train them in their homes instead of setting up a training station far away from the village when women have children to look after at home.
- Integrate natural resource management, which simply means teaching women how to conserve things like water, land, and fuel to increase productivity as well as preserve the environment.
Women in developing countries may seem remote and far away but the more I travel the more I realize how much we all have in common. Mothers around the world just want to the basic dignity to feed and provide for their families. And simple, targeted investment can have an enormous gain. If women can feed their loved ones and themselves with maize, cassava and plantains, they can transform their families, communities, and societies. And since women are the majority of farmers in some areas, this makes an enormous impact on food security. We will all be the better for it.
For more information about Women Thrive Worldwide, please visit: http://www.womenthrive.org/
Gebisa Ejeta, 2009 World Food Prize laureate and director of the Purdue University Center for Global Food Security
All of us share a stake in the search for practical and sustainable solutions to reduce poverty and the misery and inhumanity of world hunger.
Global food security is a crippling, global problem. Nearly 1 billion of the world’s 7 billion people suffer from chronic hunger because of economic, social, political and environmental conditions. One of the greatest challenges of humanity in the 21st century will be to meet the food needs of a world population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. It is projected that agriculture will need to double crop and livestock production by mid-century, while producing it more efficiently and safeguarding the sustainability of our natural resources. This is a tremendous undertaking that we must accept.
The U.S. government is exhibiting great global leadership in highlighting the importance of global food and nutrition security this weekend at the G8 Summit at Camp David, starting with President Obama’s opening keynote at the Chicago Council of Global Affairs’ Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, where he is expected to highlight G-8 efforts to promote food security, improve nutrition and alleviate poverty.
I applaud his efforts and those of the G-8 to tackle this critical issue. We know that Africa is particularly at-risk to factors that lead to food insecurity, and focus should be placed on building the capacity of African institutions. We also know that the private sector can play an essential role in shouldering some of the responsibilities in global food security by ramping up innovations in agriculture that are generated by universities such as Purdue, where I and many of my colleagues currently work to help the world meet the growing need for food and energy in the coming decades. The Purdue Center for Global Food Security, which collaborates with other universities and research organizations within the U.S. and internationally, focuses on education, research and development, and advocacy to help humanity rise to those challenges.
As I have advocated in the past (pdf), I believe that meeting our food security challenges for the 21st century will require an advancement of scientific initiatives to improve crop varieties, to create more environmentally sustainable fertilizers and pesticides, to reduce pre- and post-harvest losses, and to develop new and more productive farming methods. Equally important is making sure that new technologies reach the world’s poorest farmers. Working together – governments, universities, the private sector and NGOs – we can solve one of the greatest challenges of this century.
This week USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg took a moment to speak with ONE about the upcoming G8 summit, hunger, and food security. Their conversation was just posted on the ONE Blog.
ONE: Hunger is a global issue — how is a focus on growth in the agricultural sector so central to poverty reduction, and why is an emphasis on Africa particularly important?
Ambassador Steinberg: Food security is vital to human security. On a national level, countries marked by hunger, volatile food prices, and poverty stemming from a lack of agricultural productivity face constant political and security crises that undercut stability and economic development.
At the personal level as well, hunger and malnutrition affects the entire life-cycle, causing stunting in infants and young children, poor concentration and inadequate learning in school-aged kids, low resistance to communicable and infectious diseases, and low productivity and high absenteeism in the work place.
Africa is particularly vulnerable to the effects of hunger and malnutrition, and is the only continent where agricultural productivity has remained stagnant for the past three decades. Given that growth in agriculture is, on average, at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other sectors, investments in agriculture are fundamental to transforming Africa and the rest of the developing world and eradicating poverty and hunger.
Read the full Q & A on the ONE Blog.
Guidelines Support Best Practices for Increasing Food Production and Promoting Sustainable Development
Last Friday in Rome, members of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) unanimously endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. As chair for the negotiations that drafted the text of the Guidelines and Chief of USAID’s Land Tenure Division, I welcome the endorsement as a significant step forward towards addressing tenure issues that impact food security and sustainable development around the world.
This occasion signals an unprecedented recognition by governments and civil society of the importance of improving land and other resource governance systems as a strategy for reducing food insecurity. Securing land rights for men and women, indigenous people and other vulnerable groups, will help accomplish this goal. While the Guidelines are a negotiated text, they accommodate many differing viewpoints and include numerous technical recommendations reflecting best tenure practice, including the recognition of informal, or customary, tenure.
You may have noticed a lot of increased talk about “food security” lately, particularly in the international development realm. There’s good reason for that.A family experiences food security when it lives without hunger or even fear of hunger. In essence, it means that people have enough food to live happy, healthy lives. It’s a right I’m sure we all wish were accessible to every man, woman, and child on the planet.
Yet global hunger and chronic malnutrition remain two of the greatest development challenges today. Nearly 20 percent of all people in the world live on less than $1.25 a day, and almost one billion suffer from chronic hunger. Compounding this problem is the fact that, by 2050, the global population is expected to grow to more than nine billion people, requiring up to a 70 percent increase in agricultural production to feed us all. Given increasingly limited natural resources, we’ll also need to produce this additional food with less land, water, and other resources.
The challenge is indeed great, but there are opportunities for solutions. An estimated 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas, where farming can be a key economic driver. Because growth in agriculture is, on average, at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other sectors, we already know that investments in agricultural development are fundamental to alleviating hunger and propelling long-term economic growth.
The time to accelerate these investments and growth is now. The G-8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy and the World Food Summit in Rome in 2009 united the global community to intensify efforts to advance food security by scaling up investment in the agricultural sector, which had been suffering from extreme underinvestment for several years. Feed the Future is the United States’ contribution to this collaborative global effort, which is centered on country-owned processes to improve food security, agricultural production, nutrition, trade, and broad-based economic growth through development of the agricultural sector. We’ve made a lot of progress, as a recent report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has noted. But we’re only just getting started.
Three years after L’Aquila, the leaders of the G-8 are preparing to meet once again, this time at the 2012 G-8 Summit at Camp David on May 19. This Summit is expected to build upon the food and nutrition successes of L’Aquila by focusing on creating a better environment to mobilize private sector investment as a catalyst for long-term economic growth. Through the collective engagement of international donors, country governments, the private sector, the NGO community, and civil society organizations, we can help break the cycle of hunger and poverty so that countries can feed themselves, helping their communities to thrive. This work is important because it translates to a healthy, prosperous, and sustainable future for us all.