Strengthening Local Capacity to Build Resiliency & Respond to Food Security Shocks International Food Aid Conference Kansas City, MO - April 16, 2008 Benjamin K. Homan President / Chief Executive Officer Food for the Hungry Chairman, Alliance for Food Aid
A Shocking World Large portions of Sub-saharan Africa and areas in South Asia continue to struggle on a daily basis with extreme hunger and poverty. On the Millennium Development Goal timeline toward 2015, Sub-saharan Africa had made no gains in the area of per-capita food production. It appears unlikely that the first MDG related to extreme hunger and poverty will be achieved…unless something changes. Chronic malnutrition among children remains stubbornly high in many food insecure regions around the world.
A Shocking World – what we already know The current food crisis with rising prices creates a situation of extreme hunger in populations that rely primarily on the market to meet their food needs. As a result, countries such as Haiti are on the verge of anarchy. Further, many food insecure countries are impacted by other major shocks such as civil conflict, drought, and HIV and AIDS. We gather here to talk about the role of food aid in creating a more secure world for those without enough food.
A Shocking World - continued For sustainable development to occur, poor, food-insecure communities and households need to have increased capacity and resiliency to respond to shocks that come their way, whether they be food price increases, massive insect infestation, accelerated soil erosion, drought, floods, or loss of assets by way of other catastrophes. Poor communities often lack the knowledge, skills, means and assets to respond to these shocks. They are trapped in a downward cycle of shocks, diminished assets, more shocks, followed by diminished resiliency and further loss of assets.
Community Response to Shock Many communities that PVOs partner with in our food security programs are learning to respond and to gain resilience and bounce back. Developmental food aid plays a critical role in making resilience a reality. Without a significant and stable level of non- emergency aid, we will not be successful in helping households out of this downward cycle of misfortune and underdevelopment.
Acting Locally to Create Capacity There are 3 critical areas that we believe need continual INVESTMENT: Agricultural productivity and production — for household consumption as well as for markets. The interesting example of Malawi presented yesterday shows how this strategy is helping them to be net exporters of maize. This cannot be done with emergency food aid. Nutrition of women and children. Reducing global and chronic malnutrition among children requires an intensive, long-term investment in poor, food insecure communities. Non-emergency food aid is absolutely critical to accomplishing this goal. Training, education, and capacity and skill building. These efforts require cash resources and an extended time frame.
We will fall short if we do not secure an appropriate $600 million safe-box in the Farm Bill to bring capacity back to FY2002 level of 1 million metric tons for developmental assistance.
Also, the Senate bill improves the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust to make sure this reserve of commodities and funds is available at the early signs of a crisis.