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U.S. Food Aid Programs Assist Millions Worldwide
April 5, 2012

By Kathryn McConnell
IIP Staff Writer

Men with baskets of prawns
These farmers grow prawns in Bangladesh. A Food for Progress program in Bangladesh has significantly increased farm incomes.

Azizul Haque has become a successful prawn nursery operator in Bangladesh, thanks to a two-year Food for Progress training project managed by the nonprofit Winrock International and administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“I have got another avenue to earn my livelihood with more income,” Haque said in a USDA blog posted by Katie Gorscak, an official with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The two-year training program, which began in March 2009, generated more than $1 million in additional farmer income in the area, according to USDA.

Through Food for Progress, USDA provides commodities to government agencies and nonprofit groups in developing countries that are committed to introducing and expanding free enterprise in the agricultural sector. It is one way USDA leverages its resources. In fiscal year 2012, USDA will fund Food for Progress projects in eight countries.

In the West African nation of Mali, a teacher helps students grow nutritious food like peanuts in their school garden as other community women cook the children’s lunch. The garden and school lunches are part of a McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition project managed by Catholic Relief Services and administered by the USDA. McGovern-Dole supports education and child development in low-income, food-deficit countries committed to universal education by providing U.S. agricultural products and financial and technical assistance for school lunches and maternal nutrition projects. In 2012, USDA will fund McGovern-Dole projects in 15 countries.

These long-term food aid efforts and emergency food assistance contribute to the goals of the Obama administration to reduce worldwide food insecurity through its Feed the Future initiative.


Through the Food for Peace Program, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has sent nearly 34,000 tons of emergency food aid to Sahel regions of Chad affected by drought, poor harvests, high food prices and conflict.

“Time is of the essence, particularly with the next rainy season to begin in June when roads will be impassable and population will be difficult to reach,” according to a blog entry posted by Dina Esposito, head of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace.

This is the third drought the region has experienced in 10 years. About 10 million people are at risk of going hungry before the next harvest in September, while food prices are expected to remain high, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

USAID’s emergency shipment of sorghum to Chad will complement efforts by WFP to procure food for people in need in the region — primarily children, malnourished mothers and Sudanese refugees, Esposito said in the blog post.

In 2012, USAID will provide nearly $200 million in humanitarian assistance to combat the effects of drought and high prices and build community resilience to future shocks across the Sahel, which includes parts Niger, Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, The Gambia and Burkina Faso.


On April 4, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah will address senior development officials attending a forum on strengthening drought resilience in the Horn of Africa. After the meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, Shah will travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to meet with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Agriculture Minister Tefera Deribew. He also will visit rural areas involved in agriculture.