Raj Shah Touts Feed the Future

December 19, 2010 By Richard Parker

This morning, USAID Administrator Shah was interviewed by Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s This Week, discussing the Feed the Future Initiative and in particular childhood nutrition.  Shah told her that poverty and malnourishment of children is a “solvable problem” and focused on USAID’s efforts to purchase high quality food assistance from local farmers and private companies in order to build local economies and help countries “pull themselves out of poverty.”

Amanpour began the segment with a package about children in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, where 72 percent of families are poor and children are chronically undernourished. While in Guatemala, Amanpour spoke with Maria, a local farmer, and her 11 year old daughter, who was forced to drop out of school because of memory problems her mother attributes to early malnutrition. To combat these devastating effects of malnutrition, USAID programs in Guatemala have zeroed in on a “first 1,000 days” approach to child nutrition, working to ensure the child has all the nutrients they need in the first 1,000 days of life.

Following the segment on Guatemala, Amanpour and Shah discussed food assistance and the role of USAID in fighting child malnutrition.  Administrator Shah said that while the United States will always provide food assistance in emergency situations, such as in the aftermath of floods in Pakistan, the agency has focused on long-term assistance that has the potential to change lives around the world, including the Feed the Future program.

Administrator Shah noted the 1,000 day approach taken by USAID programs in Guatemala has resulted in a 28 percent reduction in stunting from child malnutrition just in the last two years. He said local women farmers like Maria can be the solution to this massive problem and that USAID will continue to partner with local farmers and companies to help grow local economies and end the cycle of poverty.