SEATTLE — It’s always nice to hear about a government program to help people that is being implemented effectively. Though using legislative channels can be the most far-reaching and effective way to bring about change, it seems these efforts are all too often convoluted by red tape and bureaucracy.
But there are times when a statement is made with inspiration, and then followed up with actions born of the same sense of passionate momentum. For example, in his 2008 inaugural address, President Obama said this:
“To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.”
In 2009, the U.S. government pledged $3.5 billion for food security and agricultural development over three years. Designated the “Feed the Future” initiative in 2010 and designed to combat world hunger, this program has seen a myriad of successes since.
The governments, partners, and private sector investors involved are continually working towards new goals. Here are just a few of the successes Feed the Future has seen so far.
In Ethiopia, stunting (a measure of malnutrition) among young children decreased by 9 percent from 2011 to 2014.
Also in Ethiopia, Feed the Future helped over 218,000 farmers use new agricultural practices and technologies to increase their crop productivity. Globally, over 7 million farmers were reached.
Photo: The CHRF Blog
In Honduras, incomes of those involved with Feed the Future increased by an average of 55 percent from 2012-2014. 36,000 rose above the extreme poverty threshold of $1.25 USD per person per day.
This year, Liberia developed its first agricultural vocational program, which encourages high school graduates to go straight into the agriculture sector. Increasing the numbers and knowledge of local farmers increases food security and helps to fight poverty, as agriculture businesses grow more profitable and bellies grow more full.
- Almost 19 million rural households benefitted from Feed the Future in 2014 alone.
- Over 50 top U.S. universities are working in Innovation Labs to develop agricultural technologies that will increase productivity, sustainability, and nutrition of crops. They are researching everything from goat genomes to breeding heartier chickens to growing maize in times of drought.
- $1 billion in grants have been provided to 30 countries, and $177.7 million has been provided through private sector assistance.
- An exciting aspect of the Feed the Future initiative is that it is continuing to expand into new frontiers. In a literal sense, Feed the Future Asia, Latin America, and Caribbean are all in the works.
In a more abstract sense, researchers are constantly looking for more effective ways to help. New demographics are constantly being reached out to, and awareness and funding are ever-increasing.
The importance of partnership is also being explored and expanded upon. The government is collaborating with the private sector, agriculture is working together with nutrition, sustainability is being placed hand-in-hand with productivity, and women’s rights are being explored in relation to the fight against global hunger.
All of these elements working together are a true testament to the power of collaboration. Each country, each organization, each group, each person can play a part in the fight against global poverty. And when they all do, it’s a symphony of change perfectly reflected in the success of efforts such as Feed the Future.
– Emily Dieckman