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September 22, 09

NEWS / Clinton Identifies Food Security as Top U.N. Agenda Item

By Jim Fisher-Thompson
Staff Writer

Washington — “It takes a village to raise a child,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton famously wrote in a best-selling book, and it will take the entire world community working together to feed the estimated 1 billion people that are undernourished — an approach she will emphasize at the September 2009 meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, one in every six people worldwide suffers from hunger, with children and women the most at risk.

The United States, with its abundant agricultural resources, remains the world’s largest food donor. From 2007 to 2008, the U.S. government provided more than 2.6 million metric tons of food valued at more than $2.6 billion to feed people in 49 countries on four continents.

As America’s chief diplomat, Clinton has shown a passion for ending hunger in the developing world by focusing on the human dimension of international relations to galvanize world leaders.

Following Clinton’s recent trip to sub-Saharan Africa, where she promoted the theme of greater food security, U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development President Kanayo Nwanze said Clinton’s concern “sends a clear signal that the United States is committed to the effort to turn the pledges made by world leaders … into action.”

In a preview of the U.S. agenda for the September 23–30 U.N. General Assembly meeting, Clinton told an audience at the Brookings Institution that the need to “integrate diplomacy with development” is the best approach to ending world hunger.

“By building and strengthening partnerships, institutions and international regimes, we can forge a global consensus” to find solutions to political and economic challenges that affect all humanity, she said.

Clinton said that while in New York, she will participate in an event with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, hosted by the United Nations and the U.S. government, to highlight the need for greater cooperation worldwide on the growing challenge of food security.

For more than 50 years the U.S. government has provided food relief to 3 billion people in 150 countries through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the main U.S. agency responsible for distributing international food aid and administering agricultural training and improvement programs.

Most recently, USAID provided emergency food assistance to 26 countries including Syria, Yemen, Colombia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Tajikistan and 16 African nations. Since 2007, USAID has worked through the Initiative to End Hunger in Africa (IEHA) to train more than 1 million men and 641,000 women in improved farming and marketing techniques, with more than 1,500 women’s organizations benefitting.

In April, USAID addressed the plight of refugees in Pakistan fleeing fighting in the North-West Frontier province with a contribution of $21 million of emergency food aid distributed by the U.N. World Food Programme. By the end of May, the agency had provided $71.4 million in food and other assistance to refugees in Pakistan.

Feeding the hungry and helping farmers will continue, according to President Obama, who in his inaugural address in January told the international community: “We pledge to work alongside you to make farms flourish … [and] to nourish starved bodies.”

Following President Obama’s later pledge at the G8 Summit in London to provide emergency food aid, the U.S. government committed more than $5.5 billion in 2008–2009 to combat hunger in poor nations.


Tags: secretary of state,


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