Tackling Chronic Hunger and Poverty

Nov 7, 2016

When it comes to humanitarian aid, of the great achievements of the past quarter century is the fact that since the early 1990s, the number of undernourished people who live in the developing world has dropped by just short of half, from 23.3 percent to 12.9 percent.

But the improvement, though impressive, has been uneven, with great regional differences. In fact, some areas, many of them suffering from overpopulation, conflict or and deeply inequitable economic growth have actually gotten worse.

So, in developing the Office of Food for Peace's Food Assistance and Food Security Strategy for the next decade, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, incorporated the lessons it has learned from the successes and even failures of the past 25 years.

“One of the more successful ways food assistance programs can tackle chronic hunger and poverty is by looking beyond food,” wrote Dina Esposito, Director of USAID's Office of Food for Peace in a recent blog post. This means looking at food security from all angles and asking the right questions, such as how did families earn incomes to put food on the table? How much food did families produce on their land -- only enough to feed their families, or were they able to sell crops too? What were the causes of malnutrition in the communities?

The primary goal of the 2016-2025 plan is to improve and sustain food and nutrition security in vulnerable populations. USAID's Office of Food for Peace is working to achieve that goal through a two-pronged approach. One works to meet immediate needs and strengthen capacities that protect and enhance lives and livelihoods. The other works to strengthen local systems for longer-term sustainability in key areas impacting food security.

“There is unprecedented consensus that building the resilience of vulnerable communities, including their food and nutrition security, is key to our larger goals of ending extreme poverty, enhancing stability and spurring economic growth,” wrote Director Esposito. “Through [the development of the new strategy, we reaffirm] our shared vision of a world free of hunger and poverty, where all people live in dignity, peace and security and together set out an ambitious goal for the next decade—to improve and sustain the food and nutrition security of vulnerable populations.”