Obama Launches Africa Food Security Alliance

Multi-billion Dollar Effort Focuses on Agriculture, Incorporates Private Sector

© Les Talusan Photography

President Barack Obama announced today at a major food security event in Washington, DC the launch of multi-billion dollar initiative in Africa that he said is designed to “reduce hunger and lift tens of millions of people from poverty.” The G8 countries will sign this agreement at their summit in Camp David this weekend.

During his address at the Chicago Council Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, he called fighting food security through this initiative, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a “moral imperative, an economic imperative, and a security imperative.”

Read Shenggen Fan’s call for G8 ministers to prioritize increased development aid and scale-up investments for food security on the Chicago Symposium’s Global Food For Thought blog.

Obama said that the Alliance aligns efforts among three players: African leaders, donor countries and organizations, and the private sector. African leaders will craft country-specific agricultural reform and investment plans that donors, including G8 countries and other organizations, and the private sector will support. More than 40 companies have already pledged more than $3 billion to kick off this effort.

Read more about the Alliance in this USAID blog post by Gayle Smith, special assistant to the President and senior director of the National Security Council, and Rajiv Shah, the administrator of USAID, both of whom also spoke at the Symposium.

Obama said the program will ultimately help lift 50 million men, women, and children out of poverty in the next decade. “We can unleash change that reduces hunger and malnutrition and sparks growth,” he said.

Obama’s rousing speech was only one highlight of the Chicago Council Symposium. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, musician Bono, and dozens of other representatives of developed and developing countries, NGOs, and the private sector, participated in the discussions.

In her remarks, Clinton emphasized the Alliance’s focus on gender equality and the usefulness of related research tools like the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index.

“The face of modern hunger is a woman’s face,” she said. “And the face of a farmer is often a woman’s face as well. If we want to support farmers, we have to support women farmers.”

IFPRI, a Symposium partner, live tweeted from the event.