Women in developing countries are “core to success and failure” of USAID’s plan to fight hunger and poverty, and “we will be focusing on women in everything we do,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah at today’s launch
of the “Feed the Future
But to solve the “tough problem” of how to best serve women farmers, USAID needs to “take risks and be more entrepreneurial,” said Shah, as it implements the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative
“A lot of this is going to fail and that’s OK,” Shah said, calling for a “culture of experimentation” at the agency. He welcomed input from the private sector, which was represented at the launch by Des Moines-based Pioneer Hi-Bred.
In one “huge change in our assistance model,” Feed the Future will be “country-led and country-owned,” said Shah, who asked NGOs and USAID implementing partners to “align that expertise behind country priorities” and redirect money away from Washington towards “building real local capacity.” USAID will “work in partnership, not patronage,” with its 20 target countries, he said.
To insure that the administration’s agricultural development efforts are aligned to the same goals, Shah said USAID will collect baseline data from the start on three metrics: women’s incomes, child malnutrition, and agricultural production.
“Whether it is finance, land tenure, public extension, or training efforts, it does not matter whether it is an ‘agricultural development’ category of program,” said Shah. All programs will “provide targeted services to women farmers.”
While Shah briefly mentioned integrating these efforts with the administration’s Global Health Initiative, he only gave one example. Nutrition programs would be tied to health “platforms that already exist at scale” in country, such as HIV, malaria, vaccination, and breastfeeding promotion programs, he said.
Targeting Food Security: The Wilson Center’s Africa Program Takes Aim
If “food supplies in Africa cannot be assured, then Africa’s future remains dismal, no matter how efforts of conflict resolution pan out or how sustained international humanitarian assistance becomes,” says Steve McDonald, director of the Wilson Center’s Africa Program, in the current issue of the Wilson Center’s newsletter, Centerpoint. “It sounds sophomoric, but food is essential to population health and happiness—its very survival—but also to productivity and creativity.”
The May 2010 edition of Centerpoint highlights regional integration, a key focus of U.S. policy, as a mechanism for assuring greater continuity and availability of food supplies. Drawing on proceedings from the Africa Program’s “Promoting Regional Integration and Food Security in Africa” event held in March, Centerpoint accentuates key conclusions on building infrastructure and facilitating trade.
Photo Credit: “USAID Administrator Shah visits a hospital in Haiti” courtesy Flickr user USAID_Images.