Africa Regional Media Hub Press Briefing on World Food Day with USAID Bureau for Food Security Assistant Administrator Beth Dunford and USAID Food for Peace Director Matt Nims via Teleconference

Report
from US Agency for International Development
Published on 16 Oct 2018 View Original

Transcript

For Immediate Release
Tuesday, October 16, 2018 Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: press@usaid.gov

Washington, D.C.
October 15, 2018

MODERATOR: Good afternoon to everyone from the U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub. I would like to thank our participants dialing in from across the continent and thank all of you for joining this discussion. Today we are very pleased to be joined by Beth Dunford, the U.S. Agency for International Development Bureau for Food Security Assistant Administrator, as well as the USAID Food for Peace Director Matt Nims. Assistant Administrator Dunford and Director Nims will discuss food security issues in Africa in advance of World Food Day, including USAID’s Feed the Future program.

We will begin today’s call with opening remarks from each of our speakers, and then we will turn to your questions. We will get to as many of your questions as possible in the time that we have. If you would like to ask a question during the Q&A portion of the call, you must press * and 1 in order to join the question queue. You can also join our conversation on Twitter; use the hashtag #AFHubPress, and you can also follow us on Twitter at @AfricaMediaHub. As a reminder, today’s call is on the record, and with that, I will turn it over first to Director Nims.

MR. NIMS: Good morning from Washington D.C. here, and I’d assume good afternoon in other places. My name is Matthew Nims; I am the Acting Director of the USAID’s Office of Food for Peace. Thank you all for joining on World Food Day, or upcoming to World Food Day tomorrow. Unfortunately, there still remains a very large number of people in need of food out there in the world. Today, there are more than 820 million chronically hungry people out there in the world. Of these, 78 million—or almost 80 million people—are in need of immediate emergency food assistance, just to meet their daily needs.

More than half of these people are hungry because of manmade, conflict-driven crises. In other words, this suffering is preventable. All these people that have been displaced or are on the move, it’s because of these ongoing crises that we see in the world.

The U.S. government is actively working to fix this problem, by both feeding people today and helping them feed themselves in the future. USAID leads U.S. government efforts to address global food insecurity and hunger, and to prevent famine. We also address the root causes of hunger and help people build resilience. My colleague Beth Dunford, who leads the whole U.S. government Feed the Future initiative, will say more about this following my remarks.

The United States is the world’s largest provider of food assistance. Helping people in times of crisis is core to our American values. The office that I am privileged to lead, the USAID’s Office for Food for Peace, delivered more than $3 billion U.S. dollars of food assistance to nearly 70 million people in more than 50 countries last year. This year, we’ve worked in 28 African countries facing natural or manmade emergencies. In South Sudan, we feed an average of 1.5 million people per month and help to roll back famine that was declared in parts of South Sudan in February 2017.

Our partners feed more than a million Nigerians every month whose lives have been disrupted by prolonged conflict perpetuated by Boko Haram and ISIS in northeast Nigeria. We help millions of refugees and communities that host them in countries like Uganda and Ethiopia, and we’ve helped roughly 27,000 people in Mauritania cope with drought conditions currently afflicting that country.

U.S. emergency food assistance saves lives, but it is not a long-term solution to ending hunger. Food for Peace invests roughly $430 to $440 million every year tackling hunger and poverty holistically, working with people who are at their most vulnerable in the community levels. At this point I’m going to hand off to my colleague Beth Dunford, who leads the development side of the U.S. government food security efforts. Thank you very much.

MS. DUNFORD: Thanks, Matt, for talking about the important work USAID is doing to deliver emergency food assistance and saving lives. As Matt mentioned, emergency food assistance is not the long-term solution to ending hunger, but global hunger is solvable. We believe this because of our partners from across the sector we work with. Their unique skills and insights are coming together to help countries that are ripe for transformation create the sustainable, long-term change needed to end chronic hunger and poverty.

We know that investing in long-term food security is the right thing to do. Studies that have been done in East Africa found that over the long term, every $1 invested in resilience and food security resulted in $2.9 in reduced humanitarian assistance, avoided losses, and improved wellbeing. This ounce of prevention is well worth a pound of cure. So a comparison of two communities in Malawi during the 2016 El Niño drought further illustrates this point. In one community, responding to urgent life-saving needs cost an average of $390 per household.

This community will also likely require similar assistance during future droughts. By contrast, a neighboring community in which we invested an estimated $376 per household over five years through a USAID Food for Peace development program that Matt was just talking about—this is between 2009 and 2014—this household did not require food assistance in 2016. Doing this work is in our shared economic interest. It means helping people become more self-sufficient, able to feed themselves and better withstand future crises.

USAID makes ending hunger a priority, and we work together to achieve something great, and that is to find solutions to food security challenges and deliver on agriculture’s promise to provide a path from poverty to prosperity, hunger to hope, and despair to opportunity. But this isn’t just USAID’s vision. The United States Congress and the President signed legislation to reauthorize the Global Food Security Act for another five years, sending a strong signal to the world that the United States continues to prioritize efforts that are helping end hunger around the world.

But we know that tackling hunger requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. Feed the Future represents a broad partnership that draws on the expertise, resources, talents, and dedication of not only the U.S. government but also organizations, the private sector, universities, and governments, research institutions, and individuals to help identify and develop long-term solutions to food security, while encouraging our partner countries to fully engage in and own their continued development progress.

In Africa, Feed the Future works in eight target countries, and they are Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. We also work in another dozen countries on the continent where we align our efforts to boost their food security. In places where we work, we partner with private companies and others to strengthen agricultural markets and then entire food systems. This is because all too often, it’s not just about the food. We need to make sure that communities’ most vulnerable families are earning enough income to buy food, that the food that they then buy is adequately nutritious for growing kids, the farmers have enough land and the right agricultural techniques to not only be able to feed their families but also to sell food in local markets to sustain a livelihood. We try to address all of these different aspects of food security so that we’re not looking only at one part of the problem and addressing only one part of the solution.

But the best development solutions are the ones that continuously empower others to get in the game and carry the work forward. Feed the Future helps partner country governments create better policy and organization for food security and nutrition, to ultimately help them move on from vulnerability to self-reliance. So country ownership proves as a litmus test for where we decide to work, and as we find committed leaders ready to revitalize their food systems and address longstanding poverty and malnutrition in their country, we work hand-in-hand with them to bring about change.

Since 2009, Feed the Future target countries in sub-Saharan Africa have out-paced their neighbors’ domestic investment in agriculture, increasing their investment by an average of 25%, which is an additional $718 million per year. Our focus is to address the root causes of poverty and hunger by equipping people with the tools to feed themselves. This important work is easing human suffering and putting communities and countries on a path to self-reliance, while reducing reliance on humanitarian aid.

Today, an estimated 23.4 million more people are living above the poverty line, 3.4 million more children are living free from stunting, and 5.2 million more families are not hungry in the targeted areas where Feed the Future has worked over seven years. We have reduced poverty by an average of 23% and child stunting by an average of 32% across the places where we’ve worked over seven years. However, despite the progress that has been made in many parts of the world, there is still work to be done to guarantee lasting food security for future generations and reduce the need for costly humanitarian aid in the future.

Feed the Future will continue to help vulnerable communities and regions build resilience to complex risks, including addressing the root causes of recurrent food crises such as floods and droughts, and empower more countries to move towards a food-secure and more stable future so that the gains that we have made are not lost when they are challenged. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Assistant Administrator Dunford and Director Nims. We will now turn to the question and answer portion of today's call. As we call on you, please state your name and affiliation, the country where you’re calling from, and again, the topic of focus is food security issues in Africa in advance of World Food Day. If you’re on the call in English, press *1 on your phone to join the question queue. For those of you listening in French and Portuguese, we can continue to receive questions from you by email, if you can send those in English to afmediahub@state.gov.

We did get a couple of questions in advance from Madagascar. I’ll ask one of those as you all join the question queue. This is from Luz Razafimbelo of Midi Madagascar, and the question is, “If you could elaborate on the underlying reasons of food insecurity in Africa in general and if possible, Madagascar specifically.” And in addition, a related question that relates to “What are the challenges to improving agriculture in Madagascar, with a particular emphasis—or especially with regard to—climate change?” Thank you.

MS. DUNFORD: Thank you so much. I’m going to ask my colleague Matt Nims to answer that question, as they are definitely working in Madagascar.

MR. NIMS: Thanks, Beth. In general, there are many, many causes of food insecurity throughout Africa, and as I said in my statement, conflict remains one of the big drivers of immediate causes of food insecurity into these situations where people are on the move or where you’ve got warring factions.

However, if we talk about Madagascar itself, here’s a country that actually is not prone to large-scale conflict, necessarily, but has been racked over the last five years with a prolonged drought or definitely serious dry spells. What we’ve got now is almost a million people who are in very serious need of food assistance, or at least some sort of food security assistance, to ensure they meet their daily intake.

In addition, Madagascar is very much a disaster-prone country, what we would call, to cyclones and to severe weather events from the ocean that come rolling in. The south especially is a place that these recurrent droughts have had really—since the El Niño in 2016, really—have very much had a detrimental effect on the farm economy, both subsistence as well as the ability to produce on a large scale.

USAID’s efforts there are both on the emergency and the development side. We currently have two very large-scale development programs that are looking at the root causes of food insecurity in some of the more rural areas, at the community level. These international NGO partners have been working in conjunction with the government there to bring about a change by encouraging some sort of local agricultural inputs as well as really addressing some of the maternal child health impacts that are causing some of the low birth weights and some of the impacts on children and their nutritional status.

On the emergency side, we partner with the UN World Food Programme as well as other smaller partners to really look at treatment of acute malnutrition. We also partner with UNICEF, looking at these children who are most vulnerable, who have very low malnutrition scores. So these are some of the global causes of food insecurity; I think these also affect other parts of Africa, but definitely Madagascar.

The last point I would say that is also in all of Africa is the fall armyworm. This is an insect that is sweeping across Africa right now, and definitely this pest is having impact on crop viability, on crop yields as well, and in parts of Madagascar it’s having a pretty detrimental effect as well.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Turning to our question queue, I’d like to open the line to Embassy Juba in South Sudan. If you could state your name and your outlet before asking your question. Go ahead, Juba.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you for [inaudible]. My question - yeah, my question is, as you mentioned South Sudan has 5.3 million estimated need some assistance. What can you do in order to make sure this population [inaudible] reaching assistance from the United States? That’s my question. And the other second question: [inaudible] In South Sudan, what will you do with the government—yes, with the government—in order to improve the [inaudible] to improve the [inaudible]? Thank you.

MS. DUNFORD: Thanks. Matt, do you want to start to talk about the humanitarian response?

MR. NIMS: Sure thing, Beth. South Sudan is an incredibly large focus for both this office as well as the U.S. government. As the question stated, there are a very, very large—over five million people in the country in need of assistance. There are over four million people—at least at the last count; probably more by now—that are internally and externally displaced. What we have in South Sudan is one of the largest crises affecting the world at this time.

USAID has spent over $350 million just last year in the situation of trying to have an impact on—you know, the very, very scary malnutrition rates and food insecurity that is really gripping the whole country. It’s important to note that—I think those people who watch and follow South Sudan—this is entirely because of the warring parties that are there, because of a government that is not really working to totally address the situation, I think, and because of the large, large numbers of different factions that are having conflict perpetuating in the country.

As I said in my opening statement, in 2017, with the efforts of our partners, we worked very, very hard to ensure that famine—which was declared in several districts—did not get out of control in that country, and that was with a lot of work from the UN World Food Programme, as well as incredible local actors, local small NGOs, who really worked heroically to ensure that that did not happen. The U.S. remains committed to South Sudan and is very much encouraging all parties to come together to seek a conflict 1 and to continue and really improve the access to all these people in need for the humanitarian actors, and that has been a recurring theme and issue for quite some time.

MS. DUNFORD: This is Beth Dunford, just adding on to what Matt said. On the development side, we recognize that in areas where we are able to work, that we are working to provide farmers with improved technologies and improved seeds and improved fertilizer and techniques, to be able to produce their own food in a time of such significant deficit. But of course, again, where we can work depends on where there is access to go in and have those longer-term programs. But again, we remain committed, where possible, to help provide long-term solutions as well.

MODERATOR: Thank you both. We have U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa in Ethiopia on the line. We’ll turn to you next. If you could introduce yourself and your outlet and ask your question. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello, my name is [inaudible] and I’m from Ethiopia. My question is if the USAID is working both on the emergency and the development side, and it’s been over seven years, how come a sustainable solution for this hunger is not found yet? And if it’s found, would you mind mentioning how it’s working out?

MS. DUNFORD: Great. So again, this is Beth and I’ll start with that question. You know, I started off my career working as a Food for Peace officer in Ethiopia, back in 2002-2003, when there was a big humanitarian crisis, and I think that that year, we spent over $500 million on emergency food assistance, but only $5 million on really investing in long-term solutions to these problems. Now, with the Global Food Security Act, with Feed the Future, are investing in long-term solutions for food security and resilience, and have been for several years in Ethiopia.

Just one example of how we’re starting to see the impact of that: communities in southern Ethiopia, where we have been investing in long-term resilience and food security programs. During the El Niño drought of 2016, these communities and families were able to maintain their food security status, pretty much at the same level as before the shock, whereas communities and families who had not received this assistance saw precipitous—very quick—30% decline in the food security status. So we’re showing that actually we can help the families and communities withstand moderate shocks as we go forward, 1 To seek a resolution to the conflict and we’re continuing that investment, working together with private sector partners, with the government, to get the right policies in place, the right investment in place, the right technologies in place, to help farmers, communities, and families be able to better manage the shocks that we know recur in Ethiopia.

Matt, do you have anything to add to that?

MR. NIMS: Just a little bit. It is a shock-prone country as well, as far as dry spells and droughts, but I think it’s also important to note that currently, Ethiopia is hosting over two million refugees from South Sudan and other neighboring countries—Somalia and other places. So there’s a large burden on South Sudan2 for those refugees that are there, as well as some internal conflict and things that are going on inside of Ethiopia, which has got over two million people internally displaced as well. So these are all drivers of food insecurity at that local, community, and household level as well.

With a large country like Ethiopia, there is always excellent effort, as Beth highlighted, on how we’re working towards longer term food security, but these countries are also going to be impacted by shock, and as Beth said, how we work together to build that resilience is something, you know, that we continue to work at as well.

MODERATOR: Thank you again. For our listeners, to join the question queue, you can press *1 on your phone. We can take your questions to email afmediahub@state.gov, and to follow the conversation on Twitter you can use the hashtag #AFHubPress and you can follow us @AfricaMediaHub.

Next we have Kevin Kelley. If you could introduce yourself and your outlet and ask the next question. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah, hi, thanks for doing this. I’m Kevin Kelley, I write for the Nation Media Group, Daily Nation in Kenya. I’m based in New York, which is where I’m joining the conversation from. So Mr. Nims, you made mention briefly just now about fall armyworm, specifically regarding Madagascar. I was going to ask you for an update on what you know, what the agency knows, about the severity of this infestation, this blight. There originally were very dire predictions for what it might mean for the maize crops in a lot of countries, including Kenya. I haven’t seen a whole lot of scientific analysis since then. I’m wondering if you have updates as to the devastation that has occurred, and how much graver the damage might be, and also the success, the efficacy of efforts to counteract the armyworm. Okay, thank you.

MR. NIMS: Thanks for that question. I actually think that Beth’s team—Beth’s office—is leading efforts on fall armyworm, so I think you might be better placed to address the overall encompassing impact and efforts, Beth, if that’s okay.

MS. DUNFORD: Yes. So I think, you know, fall armyworm has spread to over 45 countries across Africa, and has also now been confirmed in India, and I believe it’s spreading on the south Asian continent as well. So I think that the capacity of this pest to really have significant impact and reach is huge. I don’t have data right now on what it’s doing to yields, and so I’ll have to get back to you on that one, but we know that where the fall armyworm is, the yields are down by at least a third, and it’s very, very devastating where it is.

So I think that solutions—what we’ve really been able to do is work with our UN organizations, African governments, to really get news out about what the pest is, how to control it, what types of technologies are out there. So I think awareness is growing about what to do about this pest and how to engage with it. It’s a very, very complicated pest to really counter, requiring very specific technologies, requiring engagement at very specific points along the growth cycle of a plant, of the crop. And so it’s not something that we’re going to be able to solve in one year; it’s going to be a long-term effort, and we’re really heartened by seeing really creative solutions coming in from the private sector and from government. But again, this is going to be a long haul that we need to invest in over time.

MODERATOR: Thank you again. We did have another question we received from Madagascar I’ll ask on behalf of our journalist Mathieu Ramasiarisolo. He writes for Taratra and he’s asking about how USAID supports agricultural development in Madagascar, and I think it would be appropriate to speak more broadly in Africa, if you like. Thank you.

MS. DUNFORD: Matt, over to you on this one.

MR. NIMS: Okay, thanks, Beth. So again, in Madagascar right now, actually at the conclusion of last year, USAID spent about $20 million on emergency food security, as well as some development programs as well. What the development programs are focusing on—and these are five- to six-year programs—is really trying to build, at the community level, a degree of food security so that they can withstand any shocks from the outside, like the cyclones we talked about earlier, as well as to get maybe better yields from their crops, as well as to address some of the child rearing and health practices that maybe are being utilized and to improve those so that we don’t have children that are slipping into malnutrition. So these are longer-term programs that are working on development at the local levels.

The USAID efforts overall in Madagascar are to improve agricultural sectors at a bit higher levels, as well as other barriers to development that have been going on for quite some time there. So this is what’s going on. At the same time, our emergency assistance is when the crises—or when the shocks—come, whether that be prolonged dry spells or these droughts that have been impacting the country for a number of years, since El Niño [inaudible] and continuing on, as well as because of its geolocation, as storms continue to grow in the Indian Ocean and other places, Madagascar is a big hit for these cyclones, and these storms really do stress the capacity of the country to be able to deal with this. So we’re there to also assist, again, at that community level, in conjunction with local actors, the ability to withstand these crises.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

MR. NIMS: The same would be true for other—these are just examples in the Madagascar context that would also be relevant to many places in Africa, to over 25 countries that Food for Peace is working in, in Africa. And these were definitely local, context-specific types of interventions.

MODERATOR: Thank you. I know that we have several journalists at our embassy in Addis Ababa, and they are back in the question queue, so we’ll turn back to Addis Ababa. If you could introduce yourself with your name and your outlet, please. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yes, my name is [inaudible] and I’m a journalist for [inaudible] Newspaper in Addis Ababa.

My question is, what government assistance food programs and legislation can be implemented in the future to fight hunger in Ethiopia in association with the U.S. government, using welfare programs in the U.S. as an example, like homeless shelters, halfway houses, rehabilitation centers, and soup kitchens?

MS. DUNFORD: Thanks for the question. I’ll start. This is, again, Beth Dunford. The president signed into law the reauthorization of the Global Food Security Act on Friday. This is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, and working to help get the agriculture sector right, so farmers can increase their income, get nutrition right, and we do this work across many countries—Ethiopia is one of our target countries where we invest—to help farmers, communities, mothers of children, be able to invest in their own futures in order to get themselves on a more food secure path.

So I think that that legislation is the most important effort that we have. This is also combined with the Safety Net program. I think, Matt, you might want to talk a little bit more about that, that we’ve been investing in for several years. So with that, I think I’ll turn it over to Matt.

MR. NIMS: Thanks, Beth. USAID has been working with other donor countries, but really primarily with the Ethiopian government, on the Productive Safety Net Programme, the PSNP, and this has been over numerous years, numerous five-year cycles, in conjunction with the government and other donors. The development of a tool, an Ethiopian-run system, that is able to target the most vulnerable and most needy, and be able to provide them sustained assistance when they need it, but also when shocks and other things or other conflicts or other types of shocks to their food security do present.

This system is very much based on, I think, many social safety net systems that exist around the world, and in fact a lot of research has been done on this system that other countries use because of its size, scope, and scale, and as well as the strong Ethiopian government presence in this. The World Bank, as well as other donors, are very much a part of this system, and it has become, I think, a great example of how, over time, as Beth detailed in earlier responses, you can build a cadre of government support that can deal with certain shocks and also just really lays the foundation of a system that is able to assist its people when needed.

MODERATOR: Thank you. We have a question—we’re having a little technical challenge, but—from Carol Ginsburg with Voice of America, the African Division editor. A question related to investments in agricultural development and food security, specifically as it relates to climate change. The responses that USAID is supporting in Africa, perhaps related to crop selection and types of crop that may be more resilient, or seeds, or other interventions specifically related to climate change. Thank you.

MS. DUNFORD: So I think we have a lot of investments on improved seeds and improved varieties that work in a variety of conditions. One is a water-efficient maize for Africa, and this is a project to really develop a type of maize that works in moisture-stressed environments. I think that this is an investment that we’ve been involved in with several other partners, including the private sector, over many years, and have really came up with a variety that works to continue producing at strong yields, even during a climate shock. And I think that in addition to our investments, we invest in research in a variety of different types of crops; water-efficient maize is only one of many, many, many that we invest in, with the support of U.S. universities, their science and ingenuity and expertise really lent to these problems globally.

But again, the research of finding the right varieties that can deal with climate stress in different areas across Africa and globally as well; that’s one part of the solution. Again, that takes a lot of expertise, a lot of time, a lot of testing, to get the right variety. We also invest in really what you need to be able to get these types of seeds out to farmers so they are available. In some places, governments work to get these seeds out; in others, really a very sustainable option is to get the private sector—small and medium enterprises—that are agricultural input dealers, building the capacity of these small and medium enterprises to reach more farmers out in rural areas, to be able to deliver these inputs in a timely manner at costs that are affordable.

One story that I like to tell is that in 2016, during the El Niño drought in southern Africa, this water- efficient maize—not only was a variety developed and able to be released across several countries in southern Africa, but there were a network of over 100 small and medium enterprise seed input dealers that were able to get the seed out to millions of farmers. Again, these small and medium enterprises, these seed input dealers that are able to really reach way out into the rural areas, didn’t exist before. So again, the research to invest in the technology is one piece, but really making sure that it’s able to get into the broader system, the broader value chain, to get out to farmers, is a large part of our work.

MODERATOR: Thank you. I see that we have just a little bit more time. Embassy Juba is back on the question queue. Let’s take one more question from our embassy in South Sudan, and then I think Addis has joined the queue and we could try to get one last question. But please open the line for Juba first. If you could state your name and let us know your outlet before asking your question.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is [inaudible], I work for [inaudible] Newspaper. I just have one question. In South Sudan there is [inaudible] people who are [inaudible] and that is very clearly due to [inaudible] the country. If I can ask, what other specific recommendations can you make to the people or the leaders of the government of South Sudan to make sure that we try to reduce that number from 5.3 million, maybe to one or to zero? That’s my question. Thank you.

MS. DUNFORD: Thanks. I think, Matt, you addressed part of this question before. Do you have anything more to elaborate on that?

MR. NIMS: I think it’s just, you know, one of our major points that the humanitarian actors have been putting forward is, I think, two things: immediate cessation, ending, of the ongoing conflict, the many multitudes and dimensions of that conflict, as soon as possible. And the second part of that would be, you know, unfettered, and actually, even, assisted ability for the humanitarian partners—both the UN as well as the many, many local and international non-government organizations—unfettered access for them to reach those people most in need, both in some of those points of protection sites that exist, as well as those that are in the bush in certain areas, as well as those that are in some of the marginal communities throughout the country.

So I think a simple message is: end the conflict, and let the humanitarians do their jobs.

MODERATOR: We have, I think, time just for one last question. Again, I know we have a large group at embassy Addis Ababa; go ahead and state your name and outlet and ask your question. Go ahead.

QUESTION: This is [inaudible] from Ethiopia. I would like to know any kind of [inaudible] that you have put in place to just work on not only humanitarian and [inaudible] conflict; this all happens because of conflict. Is there any way of pushing the political groups to address the conflicts in their committees and their respective governments in South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia?

MS. DUNFORD: Thanks. I think you’re asking broader political questions that we definitely want to refer to the Department of State press office; I would say that USAID remains committed to investing with partner governments in places like Ethiopia to work on the root causes, the humanitarian situation, and how we can help people, through development, really work themselves to a place of more sustainability. And we’ve seen in Ethiopia that investment in the humanitarian space, also in the longer- term development space, has been able to help families, communities, regions really work towards more sustainability.

So I think that really making sure that government is continuing to invest in these efforts to help farmers have access to the types of technologies they need, for businesses to flourish, to get the broader agri- food system working, I think is really important. We’re seeing that access to markets is critical to enable people to withstand shocks, so making sure that people have not only the technologies to sort of raise their crops and their livestock, to be able to improve their yields, improve the health of their animals, but really have access to broader markets, is really critical in times of shock. And so I think that that’s what we’re really pushing on to get the right policies in place to really let this broader system flourish and that we’re investing in heavily over many, many years.

And then with that, Matt, I’ll just turn it over to you. Do you have anything to add?

MR. NIMS: Beth, I think that was a great conclusion. I have nothing to add at this point.

MODERATOR: This is Brian Neubert, again, at the Africa Regional Media Hub. I would just add to what Assistant Administrator Dunford just said: Tibor Nagy, the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, has upcoming travel to the region, to West Africa and also to East Africa, and you can follow us on Twitter and through other channels to see information about that. And certainly, one of the things he’ll be addressing, in addition to the topics of our call today, are the topics of that question, in terms of root causes and political solutions.

We’re at the end of our time today. Beth or Matthew, do you have any final words before we conclude?

MS. DUNFORD: Not on my end. This was an interesting conversation, so thank you for the questions.

MR. NIMS: We’re good here; just to reiterate that Africa as a continent is an important place for the U.S. government, and I think that USAID and the State Department try to show that every day with the efforts that we are putting out there. And I think that the U.S. government remains committed to what’s happening in Africa. I think with the trip of the First Lady just last week, and all of this is just—you know, the World Food Day is a great time to be able to show and demonstrate all the things that the U.S. government is working on in conjunction with Africa, to work on global food security.

Thank you for your time and attention.

MODERATOR: That concludes today’s call. I want to again thank Beth Dunford, USAID Food Security Assistant Administrator, and Matthew Nims, USAID Food for Peace Director. They joined us from Washington. I want to thank all of our callers for participating. If you have any questions about today’s call or follow-up, you can contact the Africa Regional Media Hub by email at afmediahub@state.gov. Thank you.