Child Hunger in EgyptIn the wake of the political turmoil brought on by the Arab Spring, Egypt has struggled to maintain economic stability. Even after years of recovery, 28 percent of Egyptians live in poverty and 12.5 percent are unemployed.  Unfortunately, children bear a large brunt of the crisis. The World Food Programme (WFP) found that nearly 31 percent of Egyptian children under five are considered malnourished. To combat this, the WFP, USAID and other organizations are stepping in to help schools, farmers and more fight child hunger in Egypt.

Providing Access to Food

According to the WFP, 16 percent of Egyptians have inadequate access to food. This shortage affects all Egyptians, but especially families living in the rural Northern region of Egypt. In rural Egypt, 21.3 percent of the population has poor access to food.

To help alleviate the effect this shortage has on children, the WFP and the Egyptian government are working on providing free school meals to children who attend community schools – rural, one-room schools common in Northern Egypt.  This initiative helps feed hungry children and encourages families to continue to send their children to school even in hard times.

Recently, Egypt has had an influx of refugees escaping the civil war in Syria. These families are often in dire need of help and, as a response, the school meals program was expanded to include refugee children attending schools of all kinds. This is part of the wider Syria Refugee Regional Response program, which aims to train refugees in vocational skills that hold value in the market.

Supporting Agriculture to Lessen Child Hunger in Egypt

Agriculture is an integral part of the Egyptian economy and an important factor when tackling child hunger. Agriculture makes up 14.5 percent of the annual GDP and accounts for 28 percent of all jobs. Despite this, most farmers operate on a small scale and use traditional methods of farming that do not always line up with international standards. Examples of this include using too much or an incorrect type of chemical, resulting in poor yields and soil.

USAID has been working closely with these farmers as a part of its Feed the Future approach to sustainable food supplies. One way the group aims to create sustainability is to focus on farmers growing high-value crops such as tomatoes or green beans. USAID also helps farmers adjust their plans according to the market and needs of their buyers.

Transportation of crops is an issue in rural Egypt, where there is little infrastructure in place to carry goods across the country in temperatures that can sometimes be above 40 degrees Celsius. In response, USAID has helped build small storage houses in rural Egypt where local communities can store their crops more effectively. This process cuts down waste significantly, allowing farmers to bring in a bigger profit, reduce waste and feed their surrounding areas.

Moving Toward a Fuller Future

With proper farming strategies in place, rural Egyptians are positioned to feed their surrounding areas and their families, helping stop child hunger in Egypt while supporting the agricultural economy as well. Organizations such as the WFP and USAID are working together with both farmers and the government to provide food to those who need it most in a sustainable manner. This includes reforming farming practices and implementing programs that encourage students to go to school while providing meals to Egypt’s most vulnerable children.

– Jonathon Ayers
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

The United States Office of Global Food Security provides crucial, life-saving humanitarian aid to the world’s poorest countries. The Office of Global Food Security (OGFS) seeks to advance global food security by addressing the underlying causes of hunger and malnutrition, investing in country-led programs, leveraging multilateral institutions and making accountable, sustained commitments.

One of the initiatives of the OGFS is an organization called 1,000 Days, and it shows the importance of providing and achieving global food security. The purpose of 1,000 Days is to ensure the best nutrition during a woman’s pregnancy up until the second birthday of that child, as this “sets the foundation for all the days that follow,” as the organization’s official website states.

According to the organization, nutrition during pregnancy up until the second birthday provides the essentials for brain development, healthy growth and a strong immune system. A person’s predisposition to chronic diseases and obesity are also linked to this thousand-day window. Malnourished daughters who become malnourished mothers can also give birth to malnourished children, continuing the cycle.

Feed the Future serves as an OGFS initiative as well, with its focus being combating hunger and poverty around the world. The areas the initiative seeks to improve upon are inclusive agriculture sector growth, gender integration, improved nutrition, research and capacity building, private sector engagement and resilience.

Some of the key accomplishments of Feed the Future from 2017 include 1.7 million families no longer suffering from hunger and $2.6 billion in crop sales generated by farmers. Furthermore, more than nine million more people now live above the poverty line due to the initiative.

Despite the effectiveness of the Office of Global Food Security’s efforts to reduce hunger, President Trump’s administration said it would withdraw funding to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, or GAFSP. Created during the Obama administration, GAFSP was designed as an integral part to the Feed the Future initiative. GAFSP’s main goals are to raise farmer incomes, increase food security and prevent unrest that results from food shortages.

The United States is the program’s biggest donor, with $653 million to date. In an interview with Foreign Policy, Marie Clarke, a member of the GAFSP steering committee and executive director of the nonprofit ActionAid USA, explained that withdrawing the United States’ funding could be extremely harmful to economic development, security and humanitarian conditions in the world’s most susceptible regions.

Hopefully, withdrawing funding for GAFSP will not set the tone for how much the U.S. Office of Global Food Security will be able to spend on reducing global hunger. The continued vigilance of such organizations, supported by nations like the U.S., are supremely important in the fight against poverty.

– Blake Chambers

Photo: Flickr

Feed the FutureRecently the U.S. Agency for International Aid Development Administrator, Mark Green, announced the next phase for Feed the Future, and listed 12 countries that will be targeted to receive aid.

Feed the Future is a global hunger and food insecurity initiative that was founded in 2010. Originally, the project targeted 19 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Since 2011, Feed the Future has contributed to reducing poverty by 19 percent and dropped child stunting by 26 percent. 9 million more people are living over the poverty line and 1.7 million households are no longer suffering from hunger. Feed the Future farmers have produced higher maize and groundnut yields that were, on average, 23 percent and 64 percent higher than national averages.

Going forward, Green stated that the countries that would be targeted for this next phase are Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Kenya, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda. These countries were chosen based on their level of need, potential for growth, opportunities for partnership, opportunities for regional efficiencies, host government commitment and resource availability.

In Bangladesh, 40 million people (25 percent) remain food insecure and 31.5 percent of the population live below the poverty line. Ethiopia faces a 29.6 percent poverty rate and 40.2 percent of people are malnourished. In Ghana, the poverty rate is 25.2 percent which is a significant decrease, however there are still a lot of Ghanaians who are food insecure and live below the poverty line.

In Honduras, there is a 33 percent poverty rate and it is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Kenya has a 42 percent poverty rate and faces a humanitarian crisis as an influx of refugees enter the country. Mali’s gross national income is $580 and the poverty rate is 59.2 percent as of 2005. 25.2 percent of Nepal’s population lives below the poverty line.

The poverty rate in Niger is 48.9 percent. In Nigeria, the poverty rate is 53.5 percent and their GDP growth is -1.5 percent. Senegal’s poverty rate is 38 percent and the GNI is $950. Finally, Uganda has a 34.6 percent poverty rate and a GNI of $660.

In the new phase, each of the target countries will develop a whole-government plan for reaching the goals laid out in the Global Food security strategy. This will focus its efforts on promoting sustainable developments and providing people in these areas with knowledge and resources to be able to feed themselves long term.

The announcement arrived just a year after the passing of the historic U.S. Global Food Security Act and is meant to continue the progress that began with that law.

– Téa Franco

Photo: Google

Zambia’s agriculture possesses the ideal makings of a strong farming community. They have arable land, water and abundant human resources. Small-scale farmers are instrumental in food production countrywide and contribute significantly to the national food basket. Ultimately, these agricultural workers help their country’s poor.

To aid small-holder farmers in gaining access to high-quality, disease-free seeds, Syngenta and USAID’s Feed the Future Program invests as much as $1.8 million to provide seedling production sites. These sites will be in 20 districts across Zambia.

Each of the above-mentioned sites will be owned and operated by one Entrepreneurial Young Plant Riser (YPR), who will provide business and technical training, as well as facilitate market linkages. This will benefit 12,000 smallholder farmers and give them access to seedling production sites.

These sites will primarily use cabbage and tomato seedlings, which allows the smallholder farmers in Zambia to potentially become commercially viable vegetable farmers. They will use the classes they receive from YPR at the seedling production sites to learn how to utilize their farm space and marketing linkages to succeed with what they have.

Zambia has a major problem with low levels of investment, lack of access to affordable credit and limited access to modern technology that helps with marketing trends. There exists a high number of small-holder farmers who store their money in their homes instead of investing in further land or more seeds. The investment of seedling production sites will not only help them gain marketing and fiscal knowledge, it will also help boost the country’s economy. This investment will then come to help the population as a whole.

Rilee Pickle

Photo: Flickr

Bangladesh, a primarily agricultural society, has been plagued by poverty and malnutrition for many years. The 2010 USAID-funded Feed the Future training program, however, has empowered farmers to increase their yields.  The program has improved economic status and given the Bangladeshi people the means to fight back against hunger. This can particularly be seen in the life of Taroni Kanto Shikari, whose economic status improved to the point where he could send his son to school and his daughter to college.

Hunger and food insecurity continue to plague many Asian countries, and Bangladesh is no exception. The country has a population of 160 million. Over 40 percent of that population lives on less than one dollar per day and struggles with food insecurity. A stagnating economy, rising inflation and unpredictable natural disasters all contribute to hunger in Bangladesh. As the nation’s population grows, so does its rates of hunger and malnutrition.

Malnutrition is extremely prevalent in Bangladesh, particularly among children and pregnant women. In 2015, reported that 51 percent of pregnant women in Bangladesh do not consume adequate amounts of vitamin A. The site also reported that over 40 percent of adolescent girls are iron deficient and anemic. Bangladesh also has a high wasting and stunting rate, both of which stem from malnutrition and can permanently inhibit a child’s growth.

In 2010, USAID began the Feed the Future initiative, an ongoing program that fights back against hunger and malnutrition. The program operates by equipping farmers with the tools and the knowledge to increase their crop yields. The initiative consists of training seminars to teach farmers in Bangladesh better farming techniques and to equip them with better seeds and fertilizers.

Feed the Future has been very effective towards fighting hunger in Bangladesh, as can be seen in the life of Taroni Kanto Shikari, a rice farmer from the southern region of Bangladesh. As a rice farmer, Taroni’s income is dependent upon his yield. After all, Taroni says, “Rice is our life, rice is everything.” In 2010, Taroni attended USAID agricultural training, where he learned how to increase his rice yields with better seeds, fertilizer and techniques.

As a result of Taroni’s USAID-training, his rice production practically doubled and has increased steadily by 18 percent each season. His rice now requires one-third less fertilizer, reducing his production costs. He is also able to produce more vegetables with these new techniques, significantly increasing nutrient intake for his family. Taroni’s income has dramatically increased, and he can now afford to send his daughter to medical school and buy a bicycle for his son to attend school.

Hunger and malnutrition in southern Asian countries such as Bangladesh are rising issues. The problem will continue to worsen as populations rise and natural disasters ravage the region. Initiatives such as USAID’s Feed the Future program, however, are operating in countries around the world to give farmers like Taroni the tools to fight back against hunger and malnutrition.

Chasen Turk

Photo: Flickr

Feed the Future
The country and the planet continue to grow more densely populated. For this reason, an increase in resource production must occur. By 2050, the global population is expected to grow to nine million, making food security for all more difficult. By 2050, agricultural production needs to increase by 60 percent to have enough to guarantee food security. Currently, around 800 million people around the world go to bed hungry each night.

Feed the Future is an initiative orchestrated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with the goal of bringing world hunger to an end despite the rate of population growth. USAID defines food security as “having, at all times, both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life.” Poverty is cited as the leading cause of food insecurity by USAID and is one of the main focuses of Feed the Future’s mission.

Working hand in hand with mostly female smallholder farmers, Feed the Future encourages increased production in farming to not only increase food production but also to provide a steady income for farmers and agricultural workers all over the world. By partnering directly with governments, donor organizations, the private sector and civil society, Feed the Future ensures that the goals of the community stay at the forefront of the organization’s efforts.

Positive progress in recent years has geared Feed the Future toward continued success. Some of the achievements include enabling 18 million children to improve their nutritional options, aiding 1.2 million small and medium-sized business in securing loans, and supporting producers as they grow their new agricultural sales by $800 million. The program also receives bipartisan support from Congress which helps ensure continued advancement.

Former President Barack Obama signed the Global Food Security Act of 2016 so that nations like Bangladesh, Ghana, Guatemala, Cambodia, Rwanda, Nepal and more can empower their populations nutritionally and economically.

In Nigeria, Feed the Future is training 4,000 farmers to use higher quality seeds, safer pesticides and crop-specific fertilizer to ensure better farming habits and higher crop yield.

Feed the Future and other similar efforts are paving the way for a future free of hunger and poverty. Efforts to invest in the global future creates better cooperation between nations and an overall increase in economic benefit for all involved.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

The Five Best Ways USAID Helped Nigeria in 2016
As 2016 ends, USAID has announced encouraging news in regards to their long-time relationship with the country of Nigeria. Going forward, USAID plans to add $92 million to their humanitarian assistance program for the country. This move is symbolic of the year the two partners have shared; one rich with progress in support of refugees displaced and suffering from the Boko Haram insurgency. Here are five more ways USAID helped Nigeria in 2016:

  1. In November 2016, USAID and Chi Farms, which invests in emerging Nigerian economies by making use of local resources, partnered to add roughly 4,000 tons of catfish to the country’s water bodies. Part of USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, the two will also train 6,000 farmers and entrepreneurs in order to establish a more stable backbone for Nigeria’s economy.
  2. One of the most effective ways USAID helped Nigeria in 2016 was through its humanitarian assistance to those affected by the Boko Haram insurgency near the Lake Chad Basin. As of August 2016, more than 2 million people were internally displaced due to the conflict. USAID provides stability for refugees by administering such simple things as electronic vouchers, which cover things like food and household supplies in local shops – not only does the family benefit, but so does the local business. By August 2016, USAID had given $98 million in humanitarian aid to this region of Nigeria.
  3. In June 2016, USAID donated 160 metric tons of seeds to 6,000 Nigerian households, which they now estimate effects the lives of 60,000 internal refugees. Food insecurity has proven an endemic problem since the beginning of the conflict with Boko Haram, and this ambitious initiative lends a great deal of stability to families throughout the country that are now in control of their food supply. The donation of seeds also includes food packets to help sustain families as they await the harvest.
  4. USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in November 2016 to confront increasingly dire food insecurity in areas affected by the conflict. A study conducted by the organization in October estimated that 20 to 50 percent of children in the past six months suffered from acute malnourishment. The humanitarian crisis currently puts 9.2 million in need of help, and the arrival of DART means assistance can spread to more people, and more quickly.
  5. Assisting with food security wasn’t the only way USAID helped Nigeria in 2016 – they also trained personnel to staff 44 private hospitals for family planning counseling and implementation. As part of their USAID SHOPS project (Strengthening Health Outcomes for the Private Sector), the organization worked to increase quality and accessible family planning services throughout Nigeria. Completed in 2016, the project ran for five years and reached six states, and also trained 115 pharmacists to provide counseling to families. As a result, local healthcare facilities are reporting an increase in the use of effective contraception.

Since 2015, the U.S. has been the largest donor to Nigeria, giving $291 million in the 2016 fiscal year toward humanitarian aid. With the incredible news of their upcoming $92 million increase, USAID has extended help to tens of thousands more people and strengthened a partnership that will continue to improve the lives of millions of Nigerians.

Emily Marshall

Photo: Flickr

In Honduras, as in many places, gender conceptions influence national prosperity. Reimagining the ways that men and women can contribute to their communities and economies and learning how to share the societal load can stimulate poverty alleviation.

More than 1.7 million people in Honduras live in poverty, and many live on less than $1.25 per day. Many impoverished people live in rural areas. In fact, 46 percent of all Hondurans live in rural areas, where the primary occupation is farming. About 38 percent of all Honduran employment is in agriculture, and many farmers are struggling to make ends meet.

USAID and Feed the Future have made significant strides in assisting the Honduran farming community by improving technologies and management practices to help farmers increase the value of their agricultural products. However, there is still a long way to go, particularly in regard to supporting female farmers.

Income gaps and marginal political representation have crippled Honduran women’s leadership in the agricultural sector, despite the fact that in western Honduras alone, more than 40 percent of farming households are headed by women.

For three years, USAID and Feed the Future have partnered with Lutheran World Relief (LWR) in a project called Gender in Agriculture: From Policy to Practice (GAPP). Aiming to stimulate women’s leadership in Honduran agricultural communities, the program is training female farmers in leadership, public speaking and investing. Its hope is that as female farmers become more involved in local political processes, they will gain access to public funding and loans that tend only to benefit male farmers.

One recent GAPP success is a municipal agreement that part of the civic budget reserved for gender activities be specifically applied to women-led agricultural enterprises.

In addition to empowering female farmers in Honduras to demand their own rights, GAPP also funds programs to educate male leaders about the importance of gender equity in agriculture.

Using the concept of “new masculinities,” GAPP teaches male community members to appreciate women’s crucial role in the agricultural sector. According to one male GAPP advocacy training participant, Maximo Mejía, “Being a man isn’t, as they say, being a big shot, but understanding and seeking equality with your partner.”

While the provision of funding and new technologies does alleviate the difficulties faced by female farmers in Honduras, helping people rethink gender roles and stereotypes will help ensure that economic stagnation dissipates.

Feed the Future continues to train women to grow home gardens, farm fish and utilize the latest farming technologies, while GAPP teaches female farmers in Honduras how to use their voices to gain the civic support they need.

At the same time, Honduran men are relearning not only women’s roles in their economy, but also their own roles in caregiving and family health. This mutual empowerment of men and women will help break the poverty cycle in Honduras.

Robin Lee

Photo: Flickr

Feed the Future
The White House Summit on Global Development opened with a panel analyzing Feed the Future, a government initiative focused on improving global food security.

In July 2016, President Obama signed the Global Food Security Act of 2016. This shows that increasing growth in the development world and eradicating poverty are national security interests for the U.S.

The Obama Administration has shown dedication to improving global food security by implementing government organizations to address the various problems of global food security. One of those government organizations is Feed the Future.

Feed the Future began in 2009 and has focused on improving the agriculture industry of partner countries and nutrition to combat poverty and hunger. Their approach is as follows:

  1. Selection
    Nineteen countries have been selected based on five criteria:

    • Level of need
    • Opportunity for partnership
    • Potential for agricultural growth
    • Opportunity for regional synergy
    • Resource availability
  2. Strategic Planning
    The selected countries and the U.S. work together to make plans to create a more sustainable society through policy reform and domestic and foreign investments.
  3. Implementation
    The U.S. makes core investments in the countries’ agricultural sectors, as well as women, nutrition and agricultural infrastructure.
  4. Review and Scaling Up
    Progress reports of Feed the Future programming are published annually and reviewed so that programs can be improved upon for the future.

In 2015, Feed the Future helped over 9 million farmers gain access to improved technologies and management practices. This increased agricultural productivity and boosted the agricultural economy by more than $800 million. The organization also improved the nutrition of over 17 million children under the age of five.

In September 2015, many countries — including the U.S. — adopted a set of 17 goals to ensure a sustainable planet in the future. These goals, which are expected to be achieved by the year 2030 include, but are not limited to, no poverty, no hunger, good health and well-being, quality education and gender equality. Feed the Future is a vital part of the U.S. government’s role in achieving these goals.

As the Obama administration comes to a close, one can only hope that government initiatives like Feed the Future will continue to prosper and take significant steps towards ending poverty and hunger.

Ugochi Ihenatu

Photo: Flickr