Creating a Hunger-Free World

Hunger and malnutrition remain complex and evolving global challenges. Globally, 795 million people are hungry, malnutrition causes nearly half of all deaths of children under the age of 5, and millions more will have emergency needs because of drought, conflict, and other crises. Shifting economic conditions undermine governments’ ability to meet food security challenges, while the unprecedented number of displaced communities and the growing impact of climate change add to the complexity of addressing hunger and malnutrition in a sustainable way. Prior to the 2009 L’Aquila Food Security Agreement and the subsequent establishment of Feed the Future, low levels of investment in agricultural development, biases against women farmers, and environmental degradation combined to perpetuate a solvable hunger problem.

InterAction Recognizes

  • The U.S. must continue to lead the world in supporting global food and nutrition security. Global food price spikes in 2007–08 and 2010–11 spurred civil unrest in many developing countries, sparking high-level global action to increase official development assistance for agriculture. Starting with the 2009 L’Aquila Food Security Agreement, governments, companies, universities, and NGOs recommitted to fighting hunger and poverty through new agriculture-focused and nutrition-sensitive investments. Development of the Feed the Future Initiative cemented U.S. leadership in this process. Since then, evidence shows that the Feed the Future Initiative and corresponding investments within USAID and other federal agencies led to real reductions in stunting and poverty. To sustain this success, the U.S. must continue its resource investments, policy commitments, and partnerships in supporting food and nutrition security and building resilience. This includes working with and supporting countries and communities as they plan for and implement efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 2 to end hunger, attain food security, improve nutrition, achieve gender equality, and promote sustainable agriculture.

  • With a community-led approach, Feed the Future must focus on access to markets, land, food security value chains, and capital at all levels and among all relevant groups, especially women. All food security programs should be designed to strengthen the capacity and resilience of urban and rural communities and institutions to empower them, especially women, to take charge of all aspects of their own development. Looking forward, Feed the Future will need to build the capacity of local institutions to support access to markets, including through supply chain management, policy, and financial services. Feed the Future’s commitment must also be matched with the tools and resources necessary to tackle the scale of the problem. At the national level, new Feed the Future commitments should be aligned with country-owned plans, including those designed to achieve the SDG targets.

  • Emergency food response, nutrition, and safety net programs must be better integrated and coordinated with development assistance to address the full spectrum of programs needed to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition, especially to further expand development assistance to fragile contexts. Traditional program plans and funding mechanisms separated agricultural development, nutrition, and social protection, and did not effectively link humanitarian food assistance with longer-term agricultural development. More work has been done recently and needs to be continued to improve the layering and sequencing of these programs and increasing the length of interventions. Feed the Future and Food for Peace recently committed themselves to strategies that should improve integration and build on USAID’s Resilience Policy and Program Guidance. Support for these strategies must continue to achieve sustainable improvements and impacts in fragile contexts.  

Upcoming Opportunities

  • 2017 G7 Summit [May 2017]: Achieving SDG 2 to end hunger by 2030 will require new funding and resource commitments. Studies are already underway to determine how much needs to be invested to close the gap between needs and resources. Once that gap is identified, the U.S. can use multilateral mechanisms including the Green Climate Fund and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program to channel this funding. In addition to agriculture and food security investments, related sectors such as nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) will also play an important role in fighting hunger. Nutrition spending needs to be doubled globally to reach the 2030 goal, and the U.S. can make a bold financial and policy commitment at the upcoming Nutrition for Growth Summit happening on the sidelines of the G7 Summit.

  • Implementation and Reauthorization of the Global Food Security Act [Ongoing 2017]: The U.S. Congress passed the Global Food Security Act with strong bipartisan support in 2016. As the legislation is implemented, there are opportunities to improve the work of Feed the Future, including better partnerships and consultations with key stakeholders, as well as enhanced coordination of the U.S. emergency and development food and nutrition program to better program safety nets and other interventions that build resilience. Continuing to invest in research through the Feed the Future innovation labs and scaling up proven interventions to improve cultivation techniques and inputs is also important. The act also reauthorized the International Disaster Assistance account (IDA) for the first time since 1987, including a part in that account for the Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP). EFSP is an important part of IDA, but the administration and Congress must be careful not to fund EFSP at the expense of the other activities funded in that account including shelter, education, health, and WASH.

  • Consideration of the 2018 Farm Bill [Beginning Spring 2017]: Although the Farm Bill does not expire until Oct. 1, 2018, draft Farm Bill language will need to be ready as early as March 2017. The Farm Bill is an opportunity for U.S. policymakers to commit to using U.S. food aid to reach the greatest number of people who suffer from hunger in the most expedient and most efficient manner possible as well as using nonemergency programs to build capacity and communities’ resilience to hunger. In addition to supporting the use of Community Development Funds to limit the need to monetize* unnecessarily, this includes exploring and further utilizing cash-based assistance to transform nutrition and food security programming. It also entails maintaining the local and regional procurement authorizations made in the previous Farm Bill and considering further expansion of them if possible. Additionally, there is an opportunity to reinvest in research (especially through CGIAR) and agriculture extension to find more ways to address global food security and agriculture challenges such as WASH and climate-smart agriculture practices. Finally, it is a chance to assess the role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Feed the Future and to make sure Farm Bill programs are aligned with the Global Food Security Act’s whole-of-government approach to food and nutrition security.

Additional Materials

*Monetize is defined by Congressional Research Service as the process of selling donated U.S. commodities in recipient-country markets to generate cash for development programs.

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