Teaming Up with Communities in the Fight to End Hunger

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By C.D. Glin, President & CEO

Celebrating Feed the Future Week 2017

            A year ago I joined the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and have seen the incredible work and results that can occur when 11 U.S. Government agencies team up in the fight to end hunger. Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is attacking the root causes of hunger and poverty in 12 new target countries to give communities the tools they need to feed themselves. As I testified to U.S. Congress in July, USADF addresses hunger and food insecurity at the root cause by focusing at the grassroots. In 6 out of the 12 new Feed the Future target countries, including Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda, USADF provides underserved communities a voice and a choice in their economic development priorities.

Our community-driven approach means that we listen to farmers’ self-stated needs to catalyze agricultural-led economic growth in these communities. For instance, in Turkana, northern Kenya, a region that is food insecure, we’ve helped communities move from being food aid dependent to self-sufficient food producers and entrepreneurs. This means stable communities, less food aid dependence, and local enterprise creation. Over 70 percent of our investments are focused on supporting agriculture-led economic growth for smallholder farmers, who represent a majority of Africa’s labor force and the backbone of its economies. USADF grants assist hundreds of agricultural cooperatives to develop better enterprise management skills, improve production and distribution capabilities and access larger markets. Through Feed the Future, USADF has invested over $36 million in agricultural investments in Africa. We have worked with over 180,000 farmers, over half of which are women, and impacted nearly 1 million people who are living free from hunger.

We also know that food security is important to national security. Hunger and food price spikes, lack of economic opportunities, and youth joblessness are primary drivers of political instability and civil unrest. Earlier this year, I visited cereal cooperatives in central Mali, where USADF is partnering with community enterprises to boost food productivity and incomes for farmer members. Despite conflict and instability in Mali, with USADF support to nearly 2,000 farmers, Diédougou Cooperative has more than quadrupled the quantity of cereals sold annually. By investing in farmers to increase cereal production, Diédougou Cooperative is not only generating economic growth for its members, but selling surplus cereal grains to new markets, such as the World Food Program and private wholesalers.

Given the challenges of providing enough food for growing populations around the world, innovation is necessary to increase food security. With local technical partners in 20 countries in Africa, USADF supports innovation to help boost agricultural-led growth. By integrating new technology into agriculture, we see major dividends for farmers. For example, through the Off-Grid Energy Challenge, USADF provides seed capital to energy entrepreneurs who are designing mechanized equipment to help farmers, such as solar-powered maize mills and solar irrigation kits.

We know we have the tools necessary to end hunger by 2030. By empowering community enterprises like Kanybek in South Sudan, a small maize cooperative who recently opened a bakery on the outskirts of Juba with their savings, we can give communities the tools necessary to feed themselves. We enable poor and vulnerable populations to participate in their own development, to enhance opportunities for themselves and to create pathways to self-sufficiency and prosperity via enterprise creation. Through Feed the Future, the U.S. African Development Foundation transforms the quality of life for millions of people in communities across Africa and strengthens America’s leadership role in Africa and the world.   

C.D. Glin is the President and CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation. Prior to joining USADF, from 2011-2016 Glin was based in Nairobi, Kenya as the Associate Director for Africa for the Rockefeller Foundation, and previously served as a White House appointee at the U.S. Peace Corps as the first Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Global Partnerships.


In Kenya, Supporting Turkana to Move from Food Aid to Self-Sufficiency

In Turkana, Kenya, USADF is supporting emerging enterprises, like Napucho Poultry Community Organization (above), that are laying a strong foundation for food security in the region. Photo Credit: Wycliffe Juma

In Turkana, Kenya, USADF is supporting emerging enterprises, like Napucho Poultry Community Organization (above), that are laying a strong foundation for food security in the region. Photo Credit: Wycliffe Juma

Contributor: Yael Nagar

Yesterday, USAID Administrator Mark Green announced the selection of 12 target countries for the next phase in Feed the Future, America's global hunger and food security initiative. This announcement comes one year after the historic passage of the U.S. Global Food Security Act of 2016, an important step in affirming America’s commitment to ending global hunger, poverty and malnutrition.

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), one of Feed the Future's 11 participating U.S. Government partners, addresses food insecurity by focusing at the grassroots, giving farmers a voice and a choice in their economic development priorities.  USADF seed capital assists hundreds of agricultural cooperatives to develop better enterprise management skills, improve production and distribution capabilities to access larger markets. 

In five years in Turkana, Kenya, USADF has invested $5 million dollars and generated new revenues of $16 million, reaching over 50,000 people to strengthen local food security.

Nowhere is this more true than in northern Kenya, where USADF is investing in underserved communities to move beyond food aid to self-sufficiency through enterprise development.

Kenya’s national economy has seen remarkable growth in recent years, with its GDP rising from 40 billion in 2010 to 70.5 billion in 2016 [1]. However, as Kenya’s GDP continues to grow, those living in harsh climatic conditions still struggle in the face of food insecurity, drought, and shocks. Especially vulnerable is Turkana county, Kenya’s poorest county, where 87% [2] of people are living below the poverty line and as many as 82% have never attended school. The region is semi-arid and is prone to frequent droughts, all of which threaten food security. The current drought in Turkana, ongoing since early 2016, has left nearly 300,000 people in critical need of food assistance to survive [3]. Over the years, Turkana county has been subject to numerous droughts and the international community has responded with critical humanitarian assistance each time. However, without long-term solutions, the Turkana remain at risk.

In five years in Turkana, Kenya, USADF has invested $5 million and generated new revenues of $16 million, reaching over 50,000 people to strengthen local food security.

USADF’s work in Turkana county challenges the notion that food aid is the only solution in times of severe drought.  We believe that by empowering the Turkana to become self-sufficient in food production, they can not only end their own dependence on food aid, but can also be key producers of food for their fellow neighbors. USADF’s plan in Turkana county aligns with the Global Food Security Strategy’s focus areas of horticulture and livestock, in addition to supporting fishing and microcredit sectors. Our approach is to provide seed capital to catalyze the self-stated needs of local community groups-- we work to strengthen local enterprises and help them grow, with the goal of increasing incomes, expanding food production, and achieving food security in their communities.

Before my first trip out to Turkana with USADF, I was warned that it was among the toughest places to work. And this is largely true—Turkana County is dry, remote, and poor, with low rates of literacy. But it is also true that the Turkana people are entrepreneurial and bold, willing to try new ways of improving their livelihoods and supporting their communities.

USADF provides these emerging enterprise organizations with the tools necessary to sustainably grow a business. We have trained over 1,000 members of our farmer organizations in areas such as good governance, financial management, agronomy, fishing and livestock marketing. Because of this training, these enterprises have successfully been audited and, with a proven track record, many of them have been able to access follow-on financing.

Youth from our groups are trained as apprentices and empowered to take over managing the enterprise once the funding ends, so crucial knowledge gains are not lost. USADF-supported enterprises gain not just the physical goods, but also the knowledge and ability to make large purchases, write contracts, negotiate with vendors—in short, they become real players in formal markets for the first time. For example, with USADF support, Neema Women’s Poultry Enterprise has successfully become the largest egg producer in Turkana County.

Other emerging enterprises have used irrigation techniques to grow vegetables in the harsh Turkana climate. Achukule Agro-Forestry Tree Nursery installed drip irrigation pipes and quadrupled their vegetable production. So far, they have brought greenery and vegetation to an extremely arid landscape. Visit Lokichar and you’ll find that Achukule is now one of the town’s major suppliers of vegetables, a source of nutrition that is severely lacking in Turkana county.

By supporting small-scale food producers and enterprises, we can empower communities to reduce the reliance on food aid in Turkana County, while at the same time improving nutritional diversity. These emerging enterprises show that with the right kinds of investments, we can make sustainable strides towards food security and self-sufficiency in even the most difficult to reach places.   



Yael Nagar is the Program Analyst for Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan.