Information and news about food aid

Refugee Food AssistanceFor more than 60 years, the U.S. Agency for International Development has upheld its commitment to end global poverty, providing desperately needed refugee food assistance today. USAID works in more than 100 countries. It primarily provides humanitarian assistance, promotes global health and supports global stability. All around the world, more than 25 million people face refugee crises. And among these 25 million people, more than half are young children.

Food Assistance

USAID assists refugees by providing emergency refugee food assistance to 25 countries. In particular, USAID’s food assistance reaches Lebanon, Jordan, Ethiopia, Chad, Uganda and Bangladesh. One of the world’s biggest refugee camps lies in the southeastern corner of Bangladesh, in Cox’s Bazar. There, an estimated 868,000 Rohingya refugees seek safe haven. In order to escape western Myanmar, refugees must travel on foot through forests and turbulent waters. Often times, refugees do not have enough food for the trip and witness the deaths of loved ones. By the end of this journey, many refugees have nowhere to live and no source of living. Fortunately, USAID’s programs offer assistance.

Furthermore, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace and the United Nations’ World Food Programme partnered to assist those seeking peace, who lack a home and food. USAID and WFP provide packs of high-energy biscuits as meal replacements for arriving refugees. Moreover, USAID gives WFP resources to buy rice from Bangladesh’s national rice reserve. However, it takes time to distribute food to refugee camps. USAID even supports CARE International, which provides U.S. imported food to Cox’s Bazar.

Relief Tactics

Altogether, USAID programs lay out plans for permanent and stable recoveries using four types of relief tactics. Firstly, USAID provides locally and regionally purchased food, which is more quickly accessible than imported food. Secondly, if local food is unavailable, USAID provides U.S.-grown food. Thirdly, if imported food distorts local prices, USAID offers paper or electronic food vouchers. These vouchers allow refugees to purchase local food and support local communities. Fourthly, if more flexible solutions are required, USAID supplies cash, mobile or debit card transfers.

Beyond relief tactics, USAID helps improve global stability. Every year, USAID assists more than 40 to 50 million people worldwide with emergency food assistance. In 2018 alone, USAID gave more than $690 million to help refugees around the world. Overall, numerous countries benefit from USAID. By providing refugee food assistance, USAID plays a huge role in helping millions living in extreme poverty.

Fita Mesui
Photo: Flickr

five NGOs are petitioning the government to end the war in Yemen
The war in Yemen between Houthi rebels and the Saudi led coalition has created the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. Despite the dire situation, there is reason to hope. On November 26, five NGOs petitioned the U.S. Government to call an end to the war. Two days later, the U.S. Government announced it would add an additional $24 million to USAID’s Office of Food for Peace. On December 13, the Senate voted to end the United States support of the Saudi coalition. These are the five NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen.

Since 2015, there have been more than 16,000 civilians casualties, 22.2 million people, including 11 million children, are in need of aid and eight million are at risk of famine. The war has led to a host of other problems as well, including a cholera outbreak and a lack of access to clean water. Many organizations are trying to stop the conflict in Yemen. These are 5 nonprofit organizations working hard to protect the people of Yemen.

These are the 5 NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen

  1. International Rescue Committee (IRC): The International Rescue Committee, headed by David Miliband, a former U.K. Secretary of Foreign Affairs, is focused on humanitarian relief operations in war-affected areas. Right now it operates in more than 40 countries, and its refugee resettlement program operates in 28 U.S. cities. The IRC has been providing aid to Yemen since 2012, working to protect women and children as well as provide access to healthcare and education.
  2. Oxfam: Oxfam is a global organization working in more than 90 countries to end poverty. Led by Abby Maxman, the former Deputy Secretary General of CARE International, Oxfam believes in identifying and changing the root causes of poverty rather than just sending material aid. Through fighting and eliminating injustice, Oxfam feels that poverty can finally be eliminated. The organization has been working in Yemen since 2015 to prevent diseases by providing sanitation, hygiene assistance and clean water to those affected by the war.
  3. CARE: CARE is active in 93 countries around the globe working to combat social injustice and poverty. The organization is headed by Michelle Nunn, who previously ran the organization Points of Light and had been a candidate for the U.S. Senate. CARE current goal is to reach 200 million of the world’s most vulnerable people by 2020. CARE has been working in Yemen since 1992 and is currently providing food, water and sanitation to one million Yemenis people each month.
  4. Save the Children: Save the Children is an organization that works in the U.S. and around the world to provide for underprivileged children. It is headed by Carolyn Miles, who has been with the organization since 1998. Save the Children is active in 120 countries worldwide promoting nutrition, health and education programs. Save the Children is doing just that in Yemen by treating almost 100,000 Yemenis children for malnutrition through mobile health clinics.
  5. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC): The Norwegian Refugee Council started its relief efforts after World War II and continues its mission to this day. The organization is active in 32 countries across the world to provide clean water, education, camp management, legal aid, food assistance and shelter to refugees. The Norwegian Refugee Council is headed by Jan Egeland, who has been with the organization since 2013 and was appointed in 2015 by the U.N. as special envoy to Syria. In 2017, the NRC has provided food for more than 300,000 Yemenis and shelter to more than 50,000.

These 5 NGOs that are petitioning to end the war in Yemen are all fighting for a better world for the world’s poor. Through their work, they were able to spur the government into action. Since the petition, millions of dollars have been added to the aid package for Yemen, and the U.S. has voted to end its military involvement in the conflict.

Peter Zimmerman
Photo: Flickr

5 Facts about Food Assistance in Burundi
Burundi is a small, landlocked country located in East Africa, bordered by Rwanda and the Republic of the Congo. Though Burundi is rich in agriculture, with coffee as its main export, more than 65 percent of citizens live in poverty. About 1.4 million people or 13 percent of the Burundi population require emergency food assistance, including 56 percent of children who suffer from stunting. Food assistance in Burundi is crucial to the survival of these people as without outside food assistance, Burundi would only manage to produce enough food to last every citizen 55 days. In this article, the top five facts to know about food assistance in Burundi are presented.

Top 5 Facts about Food Assistance in Burundi

  1. As one option for providing food assistance in Burundi, an organization will directly provide emergency food, whether that be through providing meals to children at school or giving families livestock for milk, meat, or eggs. The World Food Programme (WFP) is a United Nations organization that works with the Burundi government and other U.N. agencies to provide immediate emergency food assistance in Burundi. In 2017, WFP fed over 464,000 children through their homegrown school meals program and provided 31 percent of all school meals in the country. This act of food assistance has decreased school dropout rates by 10 percent from 2014 to 2017 because children now know that they will be fed at school, no matter what their situation at home.
  2. The United States, along with the U.N., also provides emergency food assistance in Burundi. In 2017, The United States gave almost $50 million in emergency humanitarian assistance that includes both medical assistance and food assistance. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) works through WFP to provide food for refugees and specialized nutritious food for malnourished children and pregnant women. In 2018 alone, FFP contributed $30.1 million, which amounts to 11,360 metric tons of food to Burundi.
  3. As a second option for providing food assistance in Burundi, organizations will conduct research to figure out how best to optimize food assistance programs. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with support from USAID, conducted a study called Tubaramure from 2009 to 2014 to see the impact of food assistance on pregnant mothers and children younger than 2 years. They found that food assistance has the greatest effect on a child from the time of their conception to their second birthday, and can reduce the risk of stunting throughout their childhood. This information greatly assists food assistance programs and can help them concentrate their efforts on children under the age of 2.
  4. As a third option for providing food assistance in Burundi, organizations will help the citizens of Burundi provide food for themselves. This includes training farmers, thinking of innovative ways to farm and control erosion, a big problem in Burundi because of the many hills, or providing the means for a family to start their own farm. For example, after doing extensive research, Wageningen University is implementing a project called Supporting Agricultural Productivity in Burundi (PAPAB). This project will work with 80,000 farmers to improve their access to fertilizer, their knowledge of current farming methods and their overall motivation to farm.
  5. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) also participated in this method to provide food assistance in Burundi. They worked with Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) to integrate livestock manure, used as fertilizer, into regular farming practices, reinforce erosion control through forest planting and train farmers in specialized areas, such as mushroom cultivation. This way, farmers can provide additional income for their families. Through FAO and FFS’s work, 200 families in urban areas now have micro-gardens and the community has planted more than 49,000 fruit tree saplings. In the future, FAO plans to provide families with goats for breeding and continue teaching them about micro-gardens to supplement their nutrition intake.

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and more than 50 percent of the Burundi population is chronically food insecure. However, organizations who provide food assistance in Burundi, such as USAID, WFP and FAO are giving life-saving support to the people who need it most.

– Natalie Dell

Photo: Flickr

Fighting Hunger in IndiaIn the week of June 22, 2018, three girls died in Delhi’s Mandawali area due to starvation. The eldest of the three was only 8 years old. Starvation and malnutrition in India have been an underlying epidemic for some time, and last month’s incident only goes to highlight the severity of the country’s problem. Fighting hunger in India is crucial for its development.

Facts About Hunger in India

India has the fastest growing economy in the world and has all the signs of a country under major improvements in the economy, produce and material production, healthcare and an increase in wealth. Despite this, poverty and hunger in India are very high, and often ignored.

The country has a staggeringly large population at 1.3 billion people. But out of that, 190.7 million people are undernourished—meaning that over 14.5 percent of India’s whole population is suffering from hunger. In fact, 3,000 children throughout India die of malnutrition every day. Action Against Hunger, a nonprofit working to end world hunger, calculated that one-fourth of the entire world’s population of undernourished people live in India.

Poverty and Fighting Hunger in India

Fighting hunger in India is necessary due to poverty, the rapid growth of population, exhausted governance, inadequate health systems and unreliable national indicators.

Though the country has seen a major economic progress, the poorest areas of India are comparable to the environments of some of the poorest countries around the world. Those in the more impoverished states of India, such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, see 20-35 percent of children suffer from severe undernutrition. Moreover, according to India’s 2011 government data, 65 million people live in areas that lack basic facilities, which puts them under the risk of various diseases alongside hunger, which is often life-threatening.

India has, in the last decade, seen a significant increase—almost twice—in its produce and grain production. In fact, India produces a sufficient amount of food for its population but is unable to distribute and provide access to the food for most of its population, mainly women and children. This is why one out of four children in India will experience hunger which often results in malnutrition. Moreover, this insufficiency perpetuates poverty and does little—next to nothing—to rid the country of an endless cycle of poor growth and premature deaths. These premature deaths, like the three young girls who made the headlines in the summer of 2018, bring to light the severity of and the necessity for fighting hunger in India.

The Way Forward

There are a series of organizations and nonprofits who have focused their efforts on India’s most solvable issue. For instance, Action Against Hunger has been instrumental in saving lives in India in the past decade by taking a hands-on, direct approach. This organization has implemented nutrition programs, worked on health systems in India with various government officials and has even worked with healthcare providers in recognizing and subsequently treating the signs of malnutrition. All of their efforts have been in India’s most impoverished areas, in hopes that wealthier states take note.

Improvements have been seen and the continued efforts to fight hunger in India has resulted in lower hunger rates since 1990. There is still a very long way to go. It remains to be seen in the coming years how successful nonprofits will be in fighting hunger in India.

Isabella Agostini
Photo: Pixabay

Food for Peace Modernization Act
The Food for Peace Modernization Act (FPMA) is a bill currently awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives in Congress. This bill would change the way the United States can provide food to countries in need; here are some crucial factors of such a powerful piece of legislation.

10 Aspects of the Food for Peace Modernization Act

  1. Currently, only 30 percent of Food for Peace funding actually pays for food. The other 70 percent has to cover overhead and transportation costs for inefficiencies in the current law.
  1. It is a bipartisan bill. FPMA has support from both Republicans and Democrats. It has great support from Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee and Congressman Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon.
  1. It will help Americans aid impoverished countries even more. This change in policy will make it possible to feed at least 9 million more people across the world without spending any extra money. If more money goes towards the food aid rather than the overhead costs, the United States will be able to feed substantially more people in need at the same cost.
  1. It will change where the United States can source and ship the food from. The bill currently mandates that almost all food aid must be from the United States. This would change from almost all the food to no less than 25 percent of the food coming from the United States; this means that up to 75 percent of food aid could be sourced in locations other than the United States. Food could then be locally sourced much closer to the population that needs the food aid, which would save the U.S. money and time.
  1. The bill will eliminate monetization. Monetization is the act of giving funds to non-governmental organizations that operate development programs in other countries to buy food from the United States, ship that food to a poor country and then resell it in local markets. The act of monetization wastes about 30-50 percent of every dollar spent on shipping and administrative costs. This process can also depress local food prices, eventually negatively affecting local farmers and the food security of the country. The Food for Peace Modernization Act would eliminate this practice, thereby making it easier and more effective for the United States to aid poor countries.
  1. It will speed up the process of delivering food aid, which will save millions of lives. By the United States locally sourcing food for aid-recipient countries, the nation will dramatically reduce its aid-delivery time.
  1. American ships won’t have to carry the food aid. Shipping on American vessels costs about one-third more than using other means of transportation. If this step was not required, the money the United States could save would be able to help more people in dire need of food aid throughout the world.
  1. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has the opportunity to be more flexible with payment for their food aid. FPMA will allow USAID to be able to use vouchers or cash transfers for 75 percent of all food aid. USAID will be able to decide which is more cost effective, and which will help save the U.S. an abundance of money and help more people in need of aid.
  1. Food aid makes up only 0.2 percent of United States Agriculture Production. Although FPMA would change the requirement of almost all food aid coming from the U.S. to no less than 25 percent, it would have almost no effect on American farmers. The significance of American farmers is still recognized, but sourcing less food from the U.S. would not affect the production of these farmers since food aid is such a small part of American agriculture production.
  1. The current restrictions of food aid are estimated to waste about $400 million each year. The inefficiencies in the current bill waste a great deal of American money each year. With these changes like eliminating monetization, allowing vouchers and locally sourced food and not shipping all food aid on American vessels as introduced in the Food for Peace Modernization Act, the United States could use this money to help many more impoverished people around the world in need of food aid.

Spreading the Wealth

The United States is the largest contributor of food aid in the world. If the Food for Peace Modernization Act passes, it will allow the U.S. to help even more people in need across the world at no extra cost.  

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in NigeriaThe number of people who experience food insecurity in Nigeria is rising. Of Nigeria’s population of more than 160 million people, the number of undernourished people has increased from 10 million in 2010 to almost 13 million in 2012 and has been growing since.

Agriculture is the country’s main source of income, making up a staggering 40 percent of the country’s GDP. Yet, despite this, Nigeria is number 40 out of 79 on the Global Hunger Index. Though the country has grown its GDP from the six percent it was in 2008 to 8.4 percent in 2010, it remains that over 80 percent of the rural population in Nigeria live below the poverty line.

The Nigerian Government and Internal Programs

There have been various programs created by the country’s numerous governments to end food insecurity in Nigeria. Such programs are:

  • Operation Feed the Nation;
  • Green Revolution;
  • Lower River Basin Development Authorities;
  • National Agricultural and Land Development Authority (NALDA); and the
  • Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFFRI).

Unfortunately, these programs have all had dismal performances, and have all individually hindered – some have even contributed ­– to low agricultural and food production in Nigeria.

Because the government has consistently changed in Nigeria, there have been major policy changes regarding food and agricultural policies. These changes have caused major delays and have hindered agricultural production and distribution. Every new government that has come to power has abandoned the previous one’s agricultural policies. This has created mass instability in production and has blocked the progression towards ending hunger.

Gender is a Factor

Unsurprisingly, gender inequality in Nigeria can also be blamed as a major factor for the food insecurity in Nigeria. The women of Nigeria make up the majority of agricultural workers, though they are often underpaid if paid at all. Nigerian women have less and limited access to agricultural assets like inputs and service than their male counterparts. It is believed by analysts, that if women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase their crop production by 20-30 percent.

Continued Violence

The major cause, however, for much of the food insufficiency in Nigeria is the conflict and violence which has been largely due to ethnic and religious tensions in the northeast of the country. As of March 2018, the number of internally displaced persons has grown significantly. The displacement of people in Nigeria has increased to the concern of food insecurity. Over 650,000 people in the Borno State, alone, are at extreme, limited access to agricultural land and labor opportunities, and are thus, heavily dependent on assistance.

As seen in the Borno State, violence and displacement of people disrupts agricultural production and makes people dependent on emergency food assistance. The number of displaced persons is rising: as of April 2018, Boko Haram and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was responsible for displacing more than 1.7 million people throughout Nigeria. Moreover, the summer months are the hardest for crops to grow in Nigeria. It is estimated that in the months of June through August of 2018, over 3 million people throughout the Northeast of Nigeria will face a food insufficiency crisis or worse.

Humanitarian Aid

International assistance is there. For instance, the USAID Office of Food for Peace (FFP) has provided emergency food assistance in Nigeria since 2015. The FFP works with non-governmental organizations to provide and distribute locally-purchased food, food vouchers, and cash transfers to over 800,000 people in dire need. Moreover, merged efforts between the FFP and the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) ensure that supplementary food supplies reach children and pregnant and lactating women to prevent acute malnutrition. Per month, this pairing of the FFP and WFP has helped provide over 1 million Nigerians with food since December 2016.

Almost all of the factors which create and add to the food insufficiency in Nigeria are man-made problems. Though Nigeria is not a poor country, its developmental management has been poor. It is believed that alongside the aid of international organizations like the FTP and the WTP, these problems need to be individually and properly addressed. If done so, then solutions will become apparent, and the problem of food insufficiency in Nigeria will quickly be resolved.

– Isabella Agostini
Photo: Flickr

Food Delivery in Developing Countries
In distressed communities, the poor often find themselves in situations where there is very little food, caused by issues such as war zones, natural disasters or a lack of healthy, sanitary markets. There are many different organizations that continue to aid in food delivery in developing countries in some of the most oppressed areas. Although these only offer temporary solutions and the main goal is to help the vulnerable learn how to grow their own sustainable, healthy foods, these organizations are there to help in the most urgent times of need.

Action Against Hunger a Pioneer of Food Delivery in Developing Countries

Action Against Hunger is possibly one of the most well-known and longest running food delivery programs working abroad. Founded in 1979, Action Against Hunger has been distributing food to countries such as Liberia, Guatemala, Bangladesh and Lebanon. Its efforts began with a French group responding to crises in Afghanistan.  

Action Against Hunger has many different programs to ensure the safe delivery of food. Its most notable programs include the Nutrition and Health Program, which treats malnourished children and boosts child survival. Through research and special screenings, Action Against Hunger can easily pinpoint the most extreme cases and the children who are most at risk of being harmed by starvation.

The Food Security and Livelihoods Program addresses the lack of nutritious foods that plague areas of poverty. The program enables vulnerable societies by improving their access to food, income and the economy. The Food Security and Livelihood Program educates small-scale farmers on how to increase food production and how to store and market their crops. Action Against Hunger considers each area’s specific needs and includes activities that help boost the local market.

In addition to responding to emergencies, this program also helps establish long-term solutions to continue fighting hunger. In times of violence or drought, Action Against Hunger helps communities replenish their food sources. Through the Food Security and Livelihood Program, Action Against Hunger also creates strategies such as small business assistance and veterinary services.

In 2016, Action Against Hunger improved food security, income and livelihoods for 2.6 million people in some of the most vulnerable situations around the world in countries such as South Sudan, Malawi and Iraq.

World Food Program USA Brings Food to Schools and War Zones

World Food Program USA tackles the issue of hunger by asking the question, “Why are people hungry?” and discovering the root causes behind hunger, such as poverty, conflict, natural disasters, climate change, lack of food access and lack of proper education. To help combat these specific situations, World Food Program USA has many different programs for food delivery in developing countries.

WFP’s School Meals Program provides food assistance to school-aged children in areas where school is often their only source of nutritious food. It provides school food assistance in countries such as Sudan, Tanzania, Bolivia and Mali. In 2016, WFP helped feed 16,404,640 children through school meals. More than 76,500 schools received assistance through WFP and 60 countries participated in the program.

WFP’s Emergency Response Program delivers food to war zones in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq, along with natural disaster food delivery. Through these programs, it works with national governments, private sectors and civil society partners. WFP utilizes telecommunications systems to correlate relief and recovery on the ground.

Although many programs only provide temporary solutions to ending hunger, the most pressing issue is to ensure that those who have no other means are provided with their most basic needs: food, water, hygiene and a safe place to live. Through food delivery in developing countries, Action Against Hunger and World Food Program USA have not only helped combat starvation and malnutrition, but their programs have helped people in impoverished areas learn how to make, handle and market food, which will have a lasting effect on their livelihoods and generate a sustainable way of life for the future.   

– Rebecca Lee
Photo: Flickr

Feed the Future
April 2018 marked the official start of the Feed the Future Kenya Country Plan, a USAID initiative to reduce poverty and food insecurity in Kenya
The plan was put into action by U.S. Ambassador Robert F. Godec at the Accelerating Value Chain Development (AVCD) National Conference, which took place in Nairobi during April 26-27.

Feed the Future

Feed the Future is a program developed by the Obama administration as part of the U.S. Global Food Security Strategy. It aims to promote agricultural production and help communities better cope with drought and climate change by introducing new technologies and innovative strategies to local farmers.

The Country Plan is actually the beginning of the second phase of Feed the Future in Kenya; the first phase was originally implemented five years ago. The hope for the second phase is to bolster the areas of the program which were successful and make improvements to the components that need work.

Progress in Combatting Poverty

So far, Feed the Future has been a huge success. Between 2011 and 2016, the program lifted an approximated 9 million people out from under the poverty line. Feed the Future farmers produce maize and groundnut crop yields that are 23 percent and 64 percent higher than the national average, respectively, which has resulted in an additional revenue of 2.6 billion dollars in agricultural sales.

Because of the progress made in the agrarian sector, an estimated 1.7 million households are no longer experiencing frequent hunger and malnutrition. In addition, there has been a 26 percent drop in stunted growth among children since the program began.

Agriculture and Economy Partner Up

The incredible numbers that have been achieved by Feed the Future are the result of partnerships between leading minds in the agricultural and economic fields. The program brings in speculation from scientists, successful businesses, nonprofits, food production companies and government agencies to create well thought out approaches to food insecurity.

Despite all of its accomplishments, there are still some issues that need to be worked out with Feed the Future. The most major of these is the focus of the program, which until now has been primarily on increasing crop yield.

While this is undeniably important, there should be more emphasis on education so that farmers understand what’s behind the positive trends and can continue them on their own for years to come — it’s called Feed the Future for a reason, after all.  

Dual Success

But overall, Feed the Future is a promising initiative that has already delivered spectacular results to food insecure nations. It is important that projects like this one continue to receive attention and funding, not only for the sake of those in need but for the taxpayers who finance them as well.

A recent study by the U.K. Department for International Development in Ethiopia and Kenya found that over the next two decades, every dollar invested in strengthening the ability of communities to cope with drought and climate change could result in about $3 saved in short-term humanitarian aid. This means that funding the right programs today will save American taxpayer dollars tomorrow.

– Maddi Roy
Photo: Flickr

Young African Leaders InitiativePresident Obama launched the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) in 2010 in an effort to invest in the next generation of African change-makers. Through regional training centers, student exchange programs and follow-up resources, YALI empowers young African leaders to “spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Despite its short tenure, YALI is already establishing itself as a force for good. Here are three success stories from the Young African Leaders Initiative: 

Food For All Africa

Elijah Amoo Addo, a former chef at a restaurant in Accra, Ghana, used the leadership and business skills he learned from YALI to help launch Food For All Africa (FFAA), the first community food bank in Ghana. In 2011, Elijah noticed a homeless man rummaging through a dumpster for leftovers to feed his friends on the street. Moved by the encounter, Elijah began eliminating waste at his restaurant, saving the surplus food to feed the needier members of his community.

Three years later, Elijah applied to YALI’s s West Africa Regional Leadership Center to amplify his vision of feeding the hungry. Today, FFAA saves and redistributes up to $5,700 worth of food each month. Elijah, who hopes to expand services to other African regions within the next five years, is one of the true success stories from the Young African Leaders Initiative. 

Lead Oak Foundation

While working at the primary health center of Benin City, Nigeria, primary care doctor Ajimegor Ikuenobe was disturbed by the scale of the malnutrition problem among the children in the community. After researching solutions to the crisis, Dr. Ikuenobe discovered a formula of maize, soya bean and groundnut that was high in the essential nutrients developing children need. Dr. Ikuenobe started Lead Oak Foundation to distribute the formula to vulnerable communities and to provide clothing, health consultations and cooking demonstrations to mothers and caregivers.

In 2017, Dr. Ikuenobe was selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship, YALI’s flagship program. The fellowship empowers leaders through academic coursework, leadership training and networking opportunities. The Fellows are selected between the ages of 25 and 35, and “have established records of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries.”

YALI Network

In addition to the Mandela Washington Fellowship and the regional training centers, another success story from the Young African Leaders Initiative comes in the form of the YALI Network, an online platform where members can connect with other leaders in their community and learn from experts in their field. The YALI Network also offers a range of training, blogs and other toolkits to help amplify impacts.

Whether its members are hoping to solve specific problems like Elijah and Ikuenobe, promote human rights, start a small business or simply improve their public speaking skills, YALI is empowering the next generation of African change-makers.

– Whiting Tennis

Photo: Flickr

modernizing food aidOn Feb. 14, 2018, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on modernizing food aid policies and programs of the United States. The hearing began with an opening statement by Chairman Ed Royce, where he began by describing the committee’s successes to bolster U.S. foreign aid assistance, such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) Modernization Act. Chairman Royce then discussed the reforms that need to be made to existing programs and policies, specifically in regards to the Food for Peace Act and the McGovern-Dole Program.

 

Reforms for The Food for Peace Act

The Food for Peace Act was enacted into law by President Eisenhower in 1954 and has been providing food aid around the world for 60 years. However, Chairman Royce discussed two facets of the law that have been hindering the program’s ability to achieve its maximum potential.

The policy of monetization is the first problem that Chairman Royce identified with the Food for Peace Act. Monetization is the process where U.S. food aid, which has been purchased with taxpayer money, is sold by nongovernmental organizations or recipient governments to the local markets of the country in need. This process has the potential to ruin small, local farms.

“Introducing large amounts of free or inexpensive food aid into foreign markets may undermine local farmers by depressing prices” stated Andrew Natsios, a Professor at Texas A&M University, during his witness testimony.

The second problem identified with the Food for Peace Act is the requirement that all food aid used for the program must come from U.S. farmers and be shipped using U.S. vessels, which has the potential to slow the U.S.’s response time to crisis situations.

McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program

The hearing also discussed the McGovern-Dole Program. This program assists children that live in food-deficit countries with their development, educational and food security needs. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s website, the goals of the program are to “reduce hunger and improve literacy and primary education, especially for girls.”

The program is in danger of elimination in the Trump administration’s budget proposal. Dan Glickman, a member of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, stated during his witness testimony that by modernizing food aid programs like the McGovern-Dole Program and Food for Peace Act in terms of changing their regulations and requirements, the U.S. can help countries in need more efficiently while at the same time ensuring that U.S. farmers are still part of the food aid process.

Increasing Effectiveness of Aid

House Committee member Eliot Engel followed the opening statement by remarking that as a friend to these countries, it is important for the U.S. to ensure that their populations are well fed. Engel stated that when people are well fed, their health improves and, as a result, the nations become “stronger countries and partners for us on the global stage.”

Engel elaborated on the problems described by Chairman Royce, specifically on the effects of using U.S. grown food and shipping vessels. He claimed that as a result of these requirements, the U.S.’s delivery time of food aid is significantly slowed down. If the food aid programs used food grown closer to the areas in crisis, the U.S. would be able to help more people faster. Engel stressed the importance of finding a balance between modernizing food aid so that delivery is more efficient, and ensuring that the American farmer’s involvement with food aid programs is not impacted or diminished.

The Foreign Affairs Committee hearing echoed similar ideas that The Borgen Project has previously championed; for example, that the amount of violence in a nation decreases when people are well fed. The result of this is improved national security for the U.S. and less need to intervene militarily in other countries.

The hearing adjourned after about two hours of discussion about modernizing food aid programs. The full video is available online on the House Foreign Affairs Committee website.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr