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The Challenge in Africa

Reducing persistent hunger and poverty in Africa is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. According to IFPRI, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to three-quarters of the world’s ultra-poor people – those living on less than 50 cents per day – and trails behind all other regions of the world in progress toward alleviating hunger and malnutrition.
Because the majority of Africa’s poor live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, the most important strategy for achieving sustainable, poverty-reducing growth is an emphasis on agricultural development. Yet despite evidence about agriculture’s important contribution to broad-based economic growth, US bilateral assistance to African agriculture fell by two-thirds in the 1990s, aid from other industrial countries fell by half, and World Bank funding plummeted by three-fourths.
The global food price crisis of 2007-8 brought home the dramatic implications of neglect of agricultural development, leading to a revitalized global effort to reduce world hunger. African leaders have committed themselves to boosting agriculture’s share of national budgets to ten percent. The US, the World Bank, and other donors have started to make substantial investments in agriculture, with the US committing more funding to global agriculture and food security through its whole-of-government approach and Feed the Future Initiative.
The current budget crises, particularly those in the US and Europe, jeopardize these new commitments but also highlight the need to leverage private sector investments to achieve food security goals. The emerging reality is that all players—the public and private sectors, in Africa and around the world —will have to collaborate to find lasting solutions to these seemingly intractable problems. As leaders in Washington and around the world reevaluate policies and development assistance principles, it is imperative to focus attention on the practical steps that can be taken to increase the impact of donor, African government, and private sector investments on the poor. The Partnership remains committed to ensuring African voices—those who ultimately stand to benefit or suffer the most from investment policies and programs—are central in these critical discussions.