This morning the G-8 announced an $20-billion pledge to boost food security in developing countries.
Earlier in the week it looked like the G-8 was going to commit $10-15 billion to the initiative, but leaders were compelled to increase their commitments after President Obama shared stories of his own families' experiences with hunger in their community in Kenya, reports the New York Times. The U.S. has committed $3.5 billion to the initiative.
Details are sparse right now. But Reuters reports that the funds will be used to purchase seeds, fertilizer and equipment to help boost agricultural production in developing countries, as well as support infrastructure projects like agricultural storage facilities. There will also be land and water management, and risk mitigation components.
The Times Online points out that the initiative "will be one of the biggest aid shifts in decades and could be controversial in America, whose farmers are the largest exporters of some crops." It represents a shift away from short-term food aid toward long-term assistance to help countries meet their own food-security challenges.
There is some concern that over time, countries will pull back on their pledges. A G8 pledge made in 2005 to collectively increase yearly aid commitments by $50 billion by 2010 is well behind schedule.
The number of hungry people surpassed one billion this year, thanks in part to the economic crisis and the food crisis. Even though prices have come down from last year's peak, they're still historically high. So the need for action has never been greater.
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