Clinton at IFPRI: Horn of Africa Crisis

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. © 2011 J. Vivalo/IFPRI

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited IFPRI on August 11 to speak about the links between long-term food security and food emergencies like the one unfolding in the Horn of Africa.

“Though food shortages may be triggered by drought,” Clinton said, “they are not caused by drought, but rather by weak or nonexistent agricultural systems that fail to produce enough food or market opportunities in good times and break down completely in bad times.” A hunger crisis, she went on, “is a complex problem of infrastructure, governance, markets, education. These are things we can shape and strengthen. So that means this is a problem that we can solve if we have the will and we put to work the expertise that organizations like IFPRI possess.”

She described how two US initiatives—Feed the Future and the 1,000 Days Initiative—are bringing resources to bear on the challenge of achieving food security in developing countries, especially for young children. She also talked about how the United States is working with Ethiopia and Kenya to strengthen their agricultural systems in ways that suit their distinct needs and strengths. These two countries are affected by the drought, but because they have built more resilient agricultural and safety net systems, the consequences are much less severe than in Somalia.

Clinton ended her remarks with a plea for a commitment to preventing future famines: “We must support the refugee camps and do everything we can to provide the immediate help that is needed. But let’s not just do that, as important as that is. Let’s use this opportunity to make very clear what more we need to do together to try to avoid this happening again. I could think of no better place to come to make that plea and to issue that challenge than to the International Food Policy Research Institute.”