MCC’s partner countries recognize that global food security can be among the most pressing challenges to economic development and poverty reduction. With its partner countries in the lead, the MCC portfolio of investments has been on the forefront of addressing food security priorities since MCC’s first compact in 2005. MCC’s food security investments highlight the importance of strengthening agricultural and rural economies in poor countries and promoting reliable access to sufficient, safe, and affordable food.
MCC places high emphasis on country ownership in its development model. MCC’s partner countries, informed by economic analysis and in consultation with civil society and the private sector, develop compact programs to address countries’ most significant barriers to economic growth and poverty reduction. When given the opportunity to set the priorities, many MCC countries prioritized food security-related investments during a time when global official development assistance (ODA) to agriculture was at a historic low 1 . To date, MCC has invested more than $5 billion to strengthen agricultural and rural economies in poor countries and to address the many sources of food insecurity.
Food Security: From Crisis to Action
In response to a global food security crisis in 2007-2008, the 35th G8 summit, held in L’Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy in 2009, marked a turning point for international efforts to achieve food security worldwide. Responding to spikes in food prices and increasing concern about hunger and malnutrition, G8 countries committed to mobilizing $22 billion for agriculture and food security. The 38th G8 summit, held at Camp David in 2012, led to the establishment of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition with the private sector and African leaders setting a target to lift 50 million people from poverty by 2022.
These meetings were followed by the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 by the United Nations. The SDGs reflect a global consensus on key goals to be achieved by 2030, with SDG 2: No Hunger focused on ending hunger, ensuring universal access to safe food, ending all forms of malnutrition, doubling agricultural productivity, building sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices, investing in research and technology, and ending trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets.
The SDGs have been reinforced other high-level dialogues, with the most significant being the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit planned in September 2021 in New York. The Summit will be convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to launch new actions to deliver progress on the SDGs, elevate public discussion around the need to reform food systems, and develop principles to guide governments and other stakeholders to support building a fairer, more sustainable world. It will also launch a system of follow-up to ensure long-term Summit impact.
The U.S. Response
Global Food Security Act
In response to the global food security challenge, MCC joined with 10 other U.S. Government agencies and departments to develop the U.S. Global Food Security Strategy. The Strategy provides an integrated whole-of-government approach, along with agency-specific implementation plans. This strategy and related plans were authorized by the Global Food Security Act of 2016, which passed Congress with broad bipartisan support and was signed into law in July 2016. This legislation solidified the U.S. Government’s commitment to improving global agricultural and food systems to increase incomes, strengthen resilience and boost nutrition. MCC is working with other agencies on a Global Food Security Strategy Refresh that will be finalized in late-2021.
Feed the Future
The U.S. Government launched the Feed the Future initiative in 2010, declaring the commitment of the United States to sustainably reduce hunger and poverty through increased agricultural development and nutrition programs. MCC supported the initiative though the development of rigorous analytical tools, including its monitoring and evaluation framework, and continues to develop and share best practices in policy and institutional reform, blended finance, irrigation, strengthening market systems, climate smart agriculture, natural resource management, and land tenure. Among these tools are the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture index, an innovative way of measuring how women benefit from agricultural investments.
In August 2017, USAID selected 12 target countries for a focus on the promotion of long-term, sustainable development to encourage economic growth through smart agriculture. Niger, an MCC partner country that suffers from water scarcity and food crises, is among the 12 target countries. MCC’s compact with the Government of Niger is working to improve access to water for agriculture and livestock and expand access to markets. It has the potential to benefit 3.9 million people.
MCC has invested more than $5 billion to strengthen agricultural and rural economies in poor countries and to address the many sources of food insecurity. It is anticipated that MCC’s food security investments will result in:
- 203,963 hectares under new or improved irrigation,
- 405,000 farmers trained,
- $87 million of agricultural or rural loans disbursed,
- 4,223 commercial and civic enterprises assisted,
- 323,203 households, commercial, and other legal entities with formalized land rights, and
- 3,035 kilometers of rural roads completed.
Through independent impact evaluations, MCC is committed to learning and being accountable and transparent about how well these program outputs translate into increased incomes and well-being for both for program beneficiaries and the partner country economy.
Independent evaluations of MCC’s agriculture sector work help answer questions about the impact of our programs on increased productivity, investment in high-value agriculture, food security investments in land and roads, and rural household incomes. The results of these evaluations will inform MCC and the government-wide initiatives in which we participate in future planning for food security and agricultural economy investments.