Partnering with Africa on food security and climate change adaptation


Washington: A key pillar of the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, released in 2012, is promoting opportunity and development. The Obama Administration has prioritized investing in Africa’s greatest resource – its people – to sustain and expand inclusive economic growth, opportunity, and the realization of human rights for this and future generations. The United States is investing substantial resources in 42 different countries in Africa, each with a unique set of development programs that include African-led and African-managed projects.

Through Feed the Future, one of the U.S. Government’s flagship development initiatives, and our support for the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the U.S. Government has elevated food security to the top of the global agenda, mobilizing billions of dollars in direct assistance and private resources for efforts that are contributing to direct impact against hunger, poverty and malnutrition.

At the 2009 G-8 Summit, President Obama pledged at least $3.5 billion in U.S. Government support, mobilizing an additional $18 billion from other donors, for global agricultural development as a key to unlocking economic growth. These resources and related efforts are helping to reduce hunger, poverty, and malnutrition. Feed the Future emerged from this commitment and 12 of its 19 focus countries are in Africa. With an emphasis on sustainable approaches that increase smallholder farmers’ productivity to feed a growing population in a world with limited natural resources and a changing climate, Feed the Future is contributing to substantial reductions in stunting and poverty. For example, in Ethiopia, U.S. Government food security efforts including Feed the Future contributed to a reduction in stunting of 9 percent nationally over the past three years. In rural areas of Uganda, where Feed the Future primarily works, poverty has decreased by 16% between 2010 and 2013 according to the national threshold.

The U.S. Government supports the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition through Feed the Future to leverage resources for sustainable impact. Launched at the 2012 G-8 Summit by President Obama, African leaders and development partners, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a shared commitment to encourage private sector engagement in inclusive, sustainable agricultural growth with the aim of lifting millions out of poverty. This effort has catalyzed over $10 billion in commitments from more than 200 international companies, including African companies, of which $1.8 billion has already been invested.

  • Supporting smallholder farmers

We are announcing a planned $140 million Feed the Future package of investments to support partnerships to produce, market, and utilize climate-resilient seeds – including maize, legumes, rice, and wheat – to smallholder farmers in 11 African countries. This investment will help smallholders sustainably increase productivity and is expected to benefit more than 11 million households across Africa over the next three years.

To further support smallholder farmers, we are committing an additional $2 million, matched by DuPont/Pioneer, to reach 100,000 Ethiopian farmers by 2018 with new high-yield seed technologies and technical assistance.

Feed the Future funded programs are already achieving significant results in Africa and elsewhere. For example:

In 2014, Feed the Future-supported farmers experienced more than half a billion dollars in new agricultural sales, a more than threefold increase from the previous year, and more than 12 million children were reached with nutrition interventions. Feed the Future also helped nearly 7 million farmers gain access to new tools or technologies to help increase yields and improve incomes. See the forthcoming 2015 Feed the Future progress report at www.feedthefuture.gov/progress2015.

Through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government provides support to the African Union-led Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) investment planning process to ensure that risk reduction and resilience are built into country and regional agricultural investment plans. Last year, African leaders reaffirmed commitments to prioritize food security with the 2014 Malabo Declaration, which builds on the CAADP principles of agriculture-led growth, regional cooperation, evidence-based planning and policy, partnership, and expanded African financial commitments. The Declaration also sets out an ambitious agenda for Africa’s food security and nutrition for the next decade that is consistent with and will help achieve Feed the Future’s goals.

  • Promoting resilience

Chronic poverty and recurrent shocks drive many of the same communities into crisis year after year, resulting in human suffering, loss of life, loss of livelihoods, and staggering economic loss. In the wake of devastating, large-scale humanitarian emergencies in the Horn of Africa in 2011 and in the Sahel in 2012, the U.S. Government, humanitarian and development partners, and African governments have taken steps to reduce disaster risk, strengthen natural resource management, mitigate conflict, improve health outcomes, and expand economic opportunities for vulnerable populations.

In 2012 and 2013, USAID launched flagship resilience programs in Ethiopia and Kenya and “Resilience in the Sahel – Enhanced (RISE)” in Niger and Burkina Faso. RISE is helping 1.9 million of the most vulnerable people in the Sahel break the cycle of crisis, escape chronic poverty, and reduce the need for humanitarian assistance. We are planning to commit over $150 million in additional funding for this initiative, bringing the total commitment to approximately $290 million over 5 years.

In 2014 and 2015, USAID extended resilience investments into dryland areas of Somalia, Uganda, and Mali. The efforts collectively seek to strengthen the capacity of communities and governments to manage the effects of drought and address the root causes of recurrent crises.

The U.S. Government also continues to partner with private sector and a range of international humanitarian and development partners to leverage additional resources to promote resilience. For example, in 2014, the U.S. Government, Rockefeller Foundation, and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency each committed to provide $50 million over five years to form the $150 million Global Resilience Partnership to catalyze and scale-up innovations to build resilience in three regions, including the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. The Global Resilience Partnership’s first activity--the Global Resilience Challenge--is underway.

Among the innovative tools that the U.S. Government is supporting to enhance resilience is the scaling up of climate resilient agricultural technologies, such as drought tolerant seeds, agro-forestry, rain water harvesting and irrigation. Through USAID, we are also examining the complementary role of insurance products to mitigate the impact of climatic shocks on vulnerable households (see fact sheet on “Partnering with Africa on Adaptation: U.S.-Africa Climate Change Adaptation Cooperation”). These interventions can stabilize producer incomes in the wake of an adverse event and protect household nutrition and human development outcomes.

  • U.S.-Africa climate change adaptation cooperation

The United States is committed to partnering with African governments and communities as part of our efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change and to reach a successful outcome later this year at the Paris climate change conference. This cooperation builds on submissions to the United Nations of post-2020 climate targets, formally known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), by the United States, as well as African nations including Ethiopia, Morocco, Gabon and Kenya. Together with other INDCs expected in the coming months, these submissions show that nations across the international community are working together to combat climate change.

The steps countries are taking to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate are major components of this effort. For Africa, the threats posed by climate change are far-reaching and immediate. In the short-term, extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves are testing the limits of vulnerable communities. Over the medium and long-term, rising temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, and rising seas pose serious threats to the food, water and health security of the whole continent. The United States continues to expand its climate resilience programs, most recently with the launch of Climate Services for Resilient Development, a $34 million public-private partnership that provides actionable science, data, information, tools, and training to developing countries that are working to strengthen their national resilience against the impacts of climate change. Ethiopia is one of three initial focus countries globally for the Partnership.

  • Ongoing commitment

Including the food security programs described above, the United States is engaged in a wide range of programs and projects that support adaptation efforts in around 40 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2010 and 2014, adaptation-related U.S. bilateral assistance specifically for Africa totaled nearly $400 million – all in the form of grants – not counting global programs that also benefit African resilience efforts. During the same period, the United States also contributed over $400 million to adaptation-focused multilateral climate funds that benefit African as well as other countries. The United States has pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, approximately half of which is expected to support adaptation activities, including in Africa.

In addition to these adaptation-specific funds, the United States is pioneering a new approach to ensure that adaptation considerations are integrated into the full portfolio of U.S. development assistance and investments. President Obama’s Executive Order on Climate-Resilient International Development requires climate resilience to be taken into consideration for all U.S. Government international development cooperation projects, programs, and investments as of October 2015.

  • Providing the data Africa needs for climate resilient development

U.S. technical agencies such as the National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Geological Survey assist African governments and regional organizations, including the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to better understand, plan for, and counter the impacts of climate change:

As part of the recent U.S.-launched Climate Services for Resilient Development Public-Private Partnership, with Ethiopia as an initial focus country, NASA has made high-resolution downscaled climate projections publicly available for the entire globe. These data sets are a critical resource for researchers and decision-makers planning for the impacts of changing precipitation and temperature patterns at a national and sub-national level.

The USAID/NASA SERVIR global initiative, in cooperation with the Nairobi-based Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development, offers hands-on training in satellite and remote sensing applications for scientists from 18 countries in eastern and southern Africa to help plan for climate impacts.

USAID’s Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET) provides information and analysis on current and projected food security, expected weather hazards, and crop forecasts to help governments and regional organizations in the Horn of Africa and Sahel regions respond to food insecurity and emergency situations. FEWS NET also provides climate data, software tools, and training to partners in East Africa who are building regional climate change adaptation capacities through the USAID PREPARED program.

To reduce harm from extreme-weather events, NOAA is leading a coordinated effort to extend the range of extreme weather forecasts from 14 days to up to 30 days and deliver warnings to impacted areas, including in Africa. These extended forecasts will increase the time to prepare and respond to several climate-related hazards like extreme precipitation events and heat waves.
National Adaptation Planning Process

Together with Malawi, South Africa, Togo, and several other countries, the United States is leading a National Adaptation Plan Global Network to generate enhanced political leadership on adaptation, facilitate learning and exchange on integrating adaptation into national development planning and action, and improve coordination among bilateral development partners.

  • Helping coastal communities

In Mozambique, USAID’s Climate Change Urban Adaptation Program is helping coastal populations cope with threats from climate change-induced sea level rise and extreme weather events. Working closely with the Mozambican government’s disaster preparedness agency, this program designed and implemented a mobile-phone based early warning system. The system alerts local residents to extreme weather events so that they can seek shelter, and provides information for first responders about which areas are hardest hit during emergencies. Currently operational in two cities with a combined population of 300,000 people, the system will be scaled up for use at the national level.

These are just a few examples of the many programs and efforts underway as the U.S. government continues to build partnerships with African governments and communities to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.