Russia’s unjustified attack on its smaller neighbor, Ukraine, had repercussion across the world, not just because of the nature of Russia’s attack against a peaceful neighbor, but because it “exacerbated a global food security crisis in a world already reeling from the enduring impacts of COVID-19, climate change, and protracted regional conflicts,” said USAID Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator Dina Esposito.
This war between two major exporters of food, fertilizer and fossil fuels exposed the “over-reliance on a handful of exporting countries to feed the world, as well as the extreme vulnerability of certain net food importer nations,” said Deputy Coordinator Esposito.
“The U.S. government’s response has mirrored the two sides of the conflict – on the one hand, we are providing unprecedented assistance and support to the people of Ukraine, while also stepping up to mitigate the food security impacts of high food and fertilizer prices, especially in vulnerable countries.”
Among the hardest hit are “food insecure countries … in Africa,” said Deputy Coordinator Esposito. “Through both food assistance and Feed the Future partnerships, USAID was … well-placed to respond to the war’s knock-on effects on hunger and malnutrition in countries deeply affected by food and fertilizer prices.”
“We’ve surged support to ensure millions of farmers have access to improved seeds, fertilizer, proven production practices, and financing to help offset historically high prices for many inputs.
“We’ve helped keep small- and medium-enterprises – so vital to the agricultural economy – up and running. And we’ve improved access to safety nets and nutrition services for vulnerable women and children.”
As well, USAID is working to expand local and regional agricultural production and markets. “The U.S. is providing technical support to regional institutions to help the continent realize the African Continental Free Trade Area,” said Ms. Esposito.
“We are also working directly with African nations and in partnership with many African universities and think tanks to help countries create more efficient and effective policy and regulatory regimes that will facilitate larger regional markets, and fuel both private sector investments and more strategic government investments in areas like research, extension services, and infrastructure.”
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a huge shock to food systems around the world,” said Deputy Coordinator Esposito. “While the global hunger picture is indeed challenging to say the least, there is also a strong undercurrent of vibrancy and possibility in these very same places that are often categorized as “hungry.”