World Food Day | Media Release

World Food Day | Media Release

On this World Food Day, the world faces a global food security crisis of historic proportions. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the deepening climate crisis, soaring energy, food and fertilizer prices and armed conflicts, including Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, have pushed millions into unprecedented levels of hunger and malnutrition. Nowhere is the severity of this crisis more pronounced than in the Horn of Africa, where four consecutive failed rainy seasons have decimated livelihoods and pushed an estimated 21 million people to the brink of starvation. Just last month, the Famine Review Committee predicted that without a significant expansion of humanitarian aid, parts of Somalia would soon be plunged into famine. If the seasonal rains do not fall for the fifth straight time this autumn, as experts expect, and if humanitarian aid levels remain inadequate, Ethiopia could soon follow.

USAID has been at the forefront of efforts to combat the food crisis in the Horn and elsewhere, beginning with the expansion of humanitarian aid. In the past year, USAID has provided emergency food and other complementary humanitarian assistance to people in need in 55 countries – an effort that includes a historic $200 million commitment to increase access to treatment for severe childhood health loss, including the supply of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food.

This commitment builds on our existing financial commitment to fight hunger around the world, which has amounted to more than $10 billion in humanitarian aid since the start of Putin’s war in Ukraine. That includes more than $68 million to support the procurement, transportation and storage of up to 150,000 metric tons of Ukrainian wheat, which is being transported through Black Sea ports thanks to diplomacy that opened the ports after a months-long blockade by Putin. And just last month, at the United Nations General Assembly, President Biden announced over $2.9 billion in new US government aid, including $2 billion in emergency aid to help save lives in countries facing crisis levels of food insecurity.

Because hunger cannot be fought with emergency food aid alone, we are also making significant investments in agricultural productivity and the resilience of food systems. President Biden’s announcement last month included $140 million in new development funding to accelerate the delivery of last-mile agricultural tools, technologies and production methods that will help small farmers increase their productivity, efficiency and income. The new funds complement USAID’s existing work to create and distribute new seeds resistant to drought, heat and disease, investing in research and development of climate-smart agricultural innovations, and protecting and promoting the right of women farmers to own their own land.

These investments build and expand on our previous efforts and demonstrate our commitment to act with the urgency and scale critical to responding to the growing food security and nutrition needs of hundreds of millions of people around the world. And they depend on the strength of our partnerships – with governments, private sector companies, NGOs, local communities and individuals, especially with women and marginalized populations. At the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt next month, USAID will continue to leverage our partnerships to better build climate resilience in food systems and farming communities.

On this World Food Day, I am grateful to all members of the USAID family—whether here at the Agency or through our external partnerships—who help fight global hunger. The collective action we take today means a better tomorrow for millions of people. Our efforts help build a more peaceful, prosperous world where no one goes hungry and no one is left behind.

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