Cindy Huang serves as Senior Advisor to the Office of Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative in the U.S. Department of State. This post originally appeared on DipNote, the U.S. Department of State official blog.
Sunday was a big day for the Administration’s flagship global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. Secretary Clinton was here in Tanzania and broke new ground…literally! In a visit to Mlandizi Town, Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Pinda launched Feed the Future in Tanzania and commemorated the event by planting sweet pepper seedlings in the fields of the Upendo Women’s Group. USAID supports group members to raise incomes and improve nutrition by providing training and technologies, such as high quality seeds and simple irrigation systems, resulting in the increased sale and consumption of vegetables. Upendo’s chairwoman told me that the biggest benefit of the group’s shared greenhouse and land is that the women now exchange ideas and solve problems together that lead to greater productivity on their own plots. USAID also helps the women access financial services and markets so they can continue to grow their businesses.
We’ve all heard that we should eat our vegetables to stay healthy, but adequate nutrition is especially important for pregnant women and children under two — a 1,000 day window of opportunity when nutrition has irreversible impact on lifelong cognitive and physical development. Along with the resources to grow more nutritious local vegetables like leafy greens and sweet potatoes, our program partners provide nutrition education to Upendo’s women, helping to build a long-term foundation for the community’s health and prosperity. Secretary Clinton highlighted the connections between agriculture and nutrition: “I was pleased to hear that already the diversity of crops here is making a difference in the nutritional status of your children. And we think that is a very good result. We hope that you will become not only a model for the country, but you will become a model for all of Africa.”
Under the old shady tree where the women of Upendo hold meetings, learn about agriculture and nutrition and sell their produce, Prime Minister Pinda — a strong supporter of agriculture whose nickname is — “son of the farmer” — spoke about the importance of Tanzania’s partnership with the United States in food security. Both Secretary Clinton and Prime Minister Pinda discussed the importance of elevating nutrition as a critical component of food security and referred to a productive meeting earlier in the day with the Irish Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore. At that meeting, Secretary Clinton expressed her gratitude that the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement and 1,000 Days partnership is creating momentum in Tanzania and around the world. Because improving nutrition “requires coordinated activities by many different public, nonprofit, and private entities,” Secretary Clinton highlighted her strong support for Prime Minister Pinda’s announcement of a high-level nutrition steering committee that will include development partners and civil society.
The Secretary’s message of country leadership and broad-based partnership was echoed in a video address presented yesterday at a 1,000 Days civil society meeting in Washington, D.C., organized by Concern Worldwide and Bread for the World — yet another example of cooperation between Ireland and the United States. In the video, Secretary Clinton referred to the special meeting on nutrition in Tanzania and also unveiled the redesigned thousanddays.org, which will serve as a platform for the global nutrition community to share ideas, lessons learned and notes from the field. All in all, it was a packed two days that highlighted the nutrition community’s progress on the ground and around the world.