Moving Food Faster to Those Who Need it Most in the Sahel

A laborer works at a grain store inside the world food programme (WFP) warehouse in Maradi, Niger, on Aug. 7, 2005. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Dina Esposito serves as the Director of the Office of Food for Peace at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

This week, urgently needed food — 33,700 tons of sorghum from American farmers — will depart the United States for West Africa, as a part of the U.S. government’s response to the drought in the Sahel.

Due to poor harvests, high food prices, and a number of conflicts in the region, a dire humanitarian situation is looming for chronically vulnerable populations across the Sahel region of western Africa.

The food we are shipping this week should arrive by late April, just four to five weeks from now. USAID’s speedy contribution complements efforts of the UN World Food Program and other agencies to procure food for the hungry regionally. Because markets in the Sahel are currently stretched to meet the demand for food, internationally sourced assistance is vital to ensure that food prices don’t rise even higher. With 7 to 12 million people in need of assistance,… more »

Global Hunger: Let’s Talk Game Change

A farmer sows wheat at Chunnikhel, Katmandu, Nepal, Nov. 15, 2011. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Paul Weisenfeld serves as Assistant to the Administrator, USAID Bureau of Food Security.

For weeks now, my teenage daughter and her friends have been buzzing about the release of the new film The Hunger Games. I asked her recently about the trilogy — she’d already read the books — and I was struck by how much the premise relates to the very heart of what we are trying to address at USAID and through Feed the Future. Among other themes, the book touches on the fundamental right everyone should have: access to food.

As a father, nothing is more important to me than ensuring my daughter has a happy life. Sure, this includes her ability to hang out with friends at the movies (after her homework is done, of course). But more importantly, it means she’s healthy enough to go to school and work toward opportunities for a bright future. Kids all over the world deserve the… more »

Connecting Early Warning to Early Action: Building Resilience in the Sahel

Following a sandstorm, Nomadic tribal chief walks past the carcass of a cow that he says died of hunger, in Gadabeji, Niger, May 11, 2010. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Nancy Lindborg serves as Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Due to erratic rainfall and failed harvests, high food prices, and rising conflict, more than seven million people across the Sahel region of western Africa are at risk of plunging into crisis when the lean season begins this spring.

We know this as a result of our investments into early warning systems that monitor rainfall, harvests, market prices, climatic conditions and nutritional status.

As a result, on February 15, 2012, I attended an unprecedented event in with Rome that brought together assembled leaders from the United Nations agencies, European Union, and USAID, as well as representatives of affected governments and non-governmental organization.

It was a heartening and remarkable convergence on the need to mobilize for early integrated action in response to the early warnings in the Sahel, with an emphasis on a smart, targeted response… more »

Keeping Promises on Food Security

A woman dries crop at a paddy field in Burha Mayong, east of Gauhati, India, May 26, 2011. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Jonathan Shrier serves as Special Representative for Global Food Security (Acting).

Food security representatives from around the world are gathering here at the Department of State today to finish a two-day meeting of the signatories of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI). In 2009 at the G-8 Summit, global leaders, including President Obama, endorsed the L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security, agreeing to “to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security.”

This marked a turning point for international efforts to achieve food security worldwide. Leaders committed to a take a comprehensive approach to ensure food security, coordinate effectively, support country-owned processes and plans, engage multilateral… more »

United States Advances Global Food Security under L’Aquila Food Security Initiative

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
February 2, 2012

Under U.S. leadership of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) in 2012, Acting Special Representative for Global Food Security Jonathan Shrier will welcome global food security representatives to Washington February 2-3 to advance mutual accountability and coordination of efforts in fulfilling our leaders’ food security commitments.

Global leaders, including President Obama, endorsed the L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security at the 2009 G8 Summit, marking a turning point for international efforts to achieve sustainable global food security. Under the Joint Statement, agreement was reached to a take a comprehensive approach to ensuring food security; coordinate effectively; support country-owned processes and plans; engage multilateral institutions in advancing efforts to promote food security worldwide; and deliver on sustained and accountable commitments.

This year marks the final year of the AFSI donor governments’ pledge to mobilize $22 billion USD toward global food security over three years. Food security is closely linked to economic growth, social progress, political stability, and peace. This is why we must show real progress in delivering on commitments to improve food security. AFSI participants convene twice annually to review progress toward meeting commitments, including financial pledges, and to discuss best practices and lessons learned.

The event will be held at the Department of State, bringing together over 50 food security officials from 30 countries, and international and regional organizations. Participants will hear from civil society and partner countries, and will discuss coordination efforts between partner and donor governments; investments in research to improve food security; tracking progress toward meeting the L’Aquila commitments; and using Managing for Development Results to enhance the impact of investments in food security.

Ensuring Food Security Remains a High-Level Priority

Indian women harvest rice in a field at Raja Panichanda village, on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, on November 4, 2011. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Jonathan Shrier serves as Special Representative for Global Food Security (Acting).

2011 saw many changes for the Secretary’s Office of Global Food Security and several advances in our international agenda. I joined the growing team in June, and am proud of our progress over the year. I eagerly anticipate more accomplishments as we take the reins of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) group and through U.S. leadership of the G-8 in 2012.

AFSI signatories’ endorsement of the L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security at the 2009 G-8 Summit marked a turning point for international efforts to achieve sustainable global food security. Under the Joint Statement, the United States and other donors agreed to be accountable for delivering a comprehensive approach to improving food security, which entails effective coordination, support for country-owned processes and plans, and engagement of multilateral institutions to promote food security… more »

Helping Guatemala Cultivate a Better Future

About the Author: Ertharin Cousin serves as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies in Rome.

Cooperativa Agricola Integral Mujeres Quatro Pinos (Integrated Women’s Agricultural Cooperative) in the central highlands of Guatemala is a heartening example of what women can accomplish when they set their minds to it, work together and receive the necessary investment support.

I visited Quatro Pinos’ vegetable production, processing, and marketing operation last week on a media tour of Guatemala as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations agencies in Rome.

In just six years, the cooperative has grown from a group of 35 women with small vegetable plots to a 350-member cooperative that manages 415 acres of land. Since the fall of 2010, they have quadrupled their production from 450,000 to 2 million pounds of vegetables. They grow snow peas, English peas, string beans, and mini carrots that they then process, package and export — much to the… more »

FWD the Facts About Famine, War, and Drought in the Horn of Africa

Screenshot of the USAID Ad Council FWD Campaign on the crisis in the Horn of Africa. The image text reads: Fact -- In Somalia, One Child Dies Every Six Minutes. Text GIVE to 777444 to donate $10. [USAID Image]

About the Author: Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

As many of you know, the worst drought in 60 years has devastated communities throughout the Horn of Africa, leaving more than 13 million people in a state of crisis — greater than the population of Los Angeles and New York combined.

In Somalia — where 20 years of war and violence has limited humanitarian access and destroyed the country’s ability to respond — the drought has led to an outbreak of famine. According to UNICEF, as a result of this crisis, a child is dying in Somalia every six minutes.

The millions suffering from the effects of this crisis are facing incomprehensible suffering. Left with nothing, many are walking more than 100 miles toward refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Because the crisis in the Horn is so complex and because the scale is so difficult to comprehend, we have not seen people come together to respond in… more »

An Update on the U.S. Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa

A Somali girl waits to collect water at the UNHCR's Ifo Extension camp, outside Dadaab, eastern Kenya, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Somali border, on August 10, 2011. [AP Photo]

More than 12.7 million people—primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia—are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa. The United States is deeply concerned by the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa, the famine that is occurring in parts of Somalia, the ongoing conflict within Somalia, and the escalating refugee crisis across the region. A large-scale international response is underway to prevent the further decline of an already dire situation, but there will be no quick fix. The U.S. is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the region, now providing over $600 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to those in need. This funding supports humanitarian assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other drought affected populations. Because emergency assistance will not solve the underlying problems in the region, the U.S.… more »

“African Solutions for African Problems”
A little Turkana girl walks towards an Oxfam distribution center to receive food in central Turkana district, Kenya, on August 30, 2011. [AP Photo]

About the Authors: Michael Battle serves as U.S. Ambassador to the African Union and the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, and Ertharin Cousin serves as U.S. Representative to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome.

We congratulate the African Union (AU) for calling together African Nations to demonstrate their support as partners with the international community to address the serious drought and famine facing the Horn of Africa. At an AU-organized pledging conference last week, Africans also expressed their deep appreciation to the international community for its overwhelming continued support to humanitarian relief as well as to assisting the African continent build capacity for addressing future crises.

The African Union has been using the phrase, “African Solutions for African Problems,” to mean that Africa as a continent must endeavor to be full partners in addressing African problems. The African Union has never suggested that it wants to solve its problems in isolation from the international community rather it has consistently asserted that it wants to insert African… more »