Developing strategies to end hunger
 

Strengthening Agriculture for Children’s Sake

Recently Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially launched Feed the Future in Tanzania.

In her address to a group of Tanzanian women farmers, Clinton pointed out that nutrition is closely connected to agricultural development. She said that “profound transformation” could occur in Tanzania’s fertile southern region, “because where women learn the best ways to grow and cultivate their own nutritious food which they use to feed their children and sell at market, we see progress.” She added: “I was pleased to hear that already the diversity of crops here is making a difference in the nutritional status of your children.”

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks with Tanzanian women farmers at Mlandizi Farm Women's Cooperative in Mlandizi, Tanzania, on June 12, 2011. State Department photo

During her visit, Clinton also recorded a video address to participants in 1,000 Days to Scale Up Nutrition for Mothers and Children: Building Political Will, co-hosted June 13 by Bread for the World Institute and leading Irish development organization Concern Worldwide.

In the message, now available on the USAID website, Clinton emphasized the importance of nutrition for the 1,000-day “window of opportunity” from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday. The evidence is clear: malnutrition during this period causes damage to physical and cognitive development that is largely irreversible. Clinton also announced the redesigned thousanddays.org, which will enable the global nutrition community to share ideas, lessons learned, and notes from the field.

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) has also just announced that Four countries will receive a total of $160 million in direct funding to support the agriculture and food security plans that they are already developing.

Feed the Future, GAFSP, and other recent global food security initiatives recognize not only that poverty is the cause of hunger, but also that hunger and malnutrition are, in turn, major causes of poverty.

It is far harder for hungry people to escape poverty:

  • They have less energy for physical activity, so their work is generally less productive. Yet their labor is usually the only asset they have.
  • Their capacity for physical and intellectual development is diminished. Hungry children grow more slowly, encounter more trouble learning, and have lower school attendance and achievement. Hunger compromises investments in education
  • Hungry people have higher rates of disease and premature death, because hunger causes serious long-term damage to human health.
  • Hunger passes from generation to generation: hungry mothers give birth to underweight infants who start life with a handicap.
  • Hunger contributes to social and political instability, undermining governments’ capacity for effective efforts to reduce poverty.

Attention to both hunger and poverty—and to both agriculture and nutrition—must be part of any plan to reduce either hunger or poverty in a sustainable way.

« USAID Administrator Heralds the Work of Faith-Based Organizations Agricultural Research Key to Feeding the World’s Hungry People »

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