Last week, global headlines focused on President Obama’s trip to Ethiopia and Kenya. During a tour of Faffa Foods– a baby food plant in Ethiopia– he met a woman that benefitted greatly from Feed the Future, USAID’s innovative food security program. Through the initiative, she was able to increase her crop yield significantly, empowering her to earn enough money to buy a cow and then send her children to school.
The newly-released Feed the Future progress report highlights how a long-term investment in global food security can make a difference both now and well into the future. Here’s a quick snapshot:
Feed the Future is continuing to make progress engaging the private sector in order to end global hunger. According to the initiative’s third annual Progress Report, the U.S. government leveraged more than $151 million in private sector investments last year, with partnerships continuing to play an essential role.
Feed the Future’s ongoing efforts are transforming the lives of farmers and children in the developing world. The initiative assisted more than 7 million farmers last year by teaching new technologies and practices that will boost their harvests and help their families and communities. This number increased by 40 percent over the last year, continuing an upward trend that has been maintained since the program was launched in 2009.
In addition, Feed the Future continues its efforts to provide better nutrition to children in the developing world. In 2014, Feed the Future delivered nutritional interventions to more than 12 million children, and the number of people trained to support child health and nutrition increased by 150 percent.
Two pieces of legislation are working to make Feed the Future a permanent tool of U.S. global development policy.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the “Global Food Security Act” in April, which was introduced by Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Betty McCollum (D-MN), and co-sponsored by 62 other members of Congress. In addition, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced the Senate version of the legislation, which was co-sponsored by five other senators in May. According to Representative Smith, this package of bills will “help provide a long-term solution to global hunger.” Senator Casey added that that the authorization of Feed the Future will “ensure our nation’s efforts to combat hunger around the world are more effective and sustainable over time.”
Global food security programs are part of this long-term investment in a new model of development that began under President Bush and continued with President Obama. As the presidential election continues to heat up, it is important for the candidates to remember that these innovative tools of development and diplomacy strengthen America’s global leadership and have a dramatic impact on improving the lives of many around the world.