A Guest Blog Post by Mannik Sakayan,
Senior Policy Analyst, Bread for the World
Every day, troubling data suggests that the ranks of hungry and poor people around the world are again expanding. For organizations who work to shed light on global hunger and poverty, the data is not news. Yet we hold in our policy cache smart, sustainable solutions to addressing the root causes of persistent global hunger and poverty.
Over the years, Bread for the World has joined forces with other global hunger advocates in calling for sustainable solutions to a path out of hunger and poverty for millions of men, women, and children in developing countries. We have done so by calling for focused agricultural development investments that take into consideration local needs and wants. And we have called for efforts to scale up and replicate the programs that work in order to get the most for our investments.
Fortunately, Feed the Future, the administration’s comprehensive food security and agricultural development initiative that launched in 2009, holds the promise to re-establish U.S. leadership in global agricultural development. It also holds the promise to address the root causes of global hunger through sustainable economic growth. It aims to achieve this through inclusive agricultural sector growth and improved nutritional status of women and children.
We have seen successes. New and innovative approaches to agriculture have helped save hundreds of millions of lives in Asia and Latin America. Yet the promise of alleviating hunger and poverty for people throughout the developing world should have served as an impetus to do more and to commit targeted resources to the programs that worked well. Instead, over the last few decades, changing global circumstances and priorities resulted in a gradual decrease in funding for agricultural development. With declining investments came diminished capacity in U.S. technical expertise. Rebuilding our technical capacity and recommitting the necessary resources will certainly be a heavy lift, but not an impossible one.
Feed the Future takes an innovative approach to bilateral assistance and offers a new model of development that takes stock of global needs as well as our own strengths in order to maximize the impact of the investments. Through country-led investment strategies, the United States will work in partnership with developing country governments to strengthen their agricultural capacity, with particular focus on smallholder farmers. Feed the Future calls for a consultative process with national stakeholders that best understand local needs and wants.
Feed the Future also includes a multilateral component, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), housed at the World Bank, to leverage donor contributions from other governments, foundations, and the private sector. Similar to Feed the Future, GAFSP allocates resources based on country-led proposals.
Both Feed the Future and GAFSP offer a new model of development that holds substantial promise. It is a sound development strategy based on targeted investments and measurable results. It has the all-important elements of reform—rigorous standards for monitoring and evaluation, accountability and transparency, country-led programming, and consultation—that are greatly needed to bring U.S. development policy into the 21st century.
Now is not the time to squander the momentum for lasting change. Hunger has never been a partisan issue. Now is not the time to make it one. Our leadership and commitment to save lives and prevent political instability around the world are at stake.
The way forward is to build broad, bipartisan support for enacting legislation that would codify the goals of Feed the Future so that it lives beyond this administration and truly becomes the cornerstone of U.S. global development policy.