A year of rising energy and fuel prices, disruptions from the global pandemic, climate change, and the impact of Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine, are challenging food prices across the world and in the Western Hemisphere. Many of our neighbors rely significantly on imports for food and are particularly vulnerable to rising food costs. The region is experiencing the highest spike in food prices in a generation.
At the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, the President is bringing together key partners to address this crisis and announcing $331 million for humanitarian assistance, food security assistance, and disaster risk reduction assistance– out of the $645 million total, that includes support for refugee and migrant populations.
The number of people facing severe food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) doubled from 2014 to 2020 to more than 90 million people. Venezuela’s humanitarian, economic, and political crises have left approximately one-third of Venezuela’s population food-insecure and brought child malnutrition rates to emergency levels, with as many as 50% of children under five showing signs of malnutrition. In Honduras, the World Food Program reported that in late 2021, the number of people facing food insecurity had nearly doubled in just one year, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of Hurricanes Eta and Iota. And, we must address food insecurity in the region in order to advance our cooperative efforts on migration and climate smart economic reform.
The United States is expanding investments in key social safety nets to help reduce poverty and food shocks in the region and to contributing more funding for humanitarian and food security needs that will improve the quality of life for peoples across the region. The United States is a leader in the global campaign to improve food security, from our work last month as chair of the Global Food Security Call to Action Ministerial meeting, to our pledges at the UN Food Systems Summit and the 2021 Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit, and our recent assumption of the co-chairmanship of the Global Agricultural and Food Security Program (GAFSP). We are working closely with the International Financial Institutions to accelerate the response to food insecurity in key areas including: (i) supporting vulnerable people; (ii) promoting open trade; (iii) mitigating fertilizer shortages; (iv) supporting food production now; and (v) investing in climate-resilient agriculture for the future. We also welcome the prompt implementation of commitments outlined in the International Financial Institution (IFI) Action Plan to Address Food Insecurity.
Joint Declaration of Agriculture Exporters: One-third of the world’s food is produced in the Americas, and the current global food crisis is an opportunity and responsibility for the region to step up to supply a greater share of the world’s commodities. The United States will commit during the Summit to work together to increase food production for export, increase fertilizer production and transportation, and to improve agriculture efficiency through technical solutions and information exchanges.
Food Security and Humanitarian Assistance: The Administration is announcing approximately $331 million in assistance to support food security needs and to provide humanitarian assistance across the hemisphere. This contribution will complement the United States’ existing commitment to providing life-saving humanitarian assistance, responding to acute food insecurity, and advancing capacity-building activities that bolster disaster preparedness and response across LAC, including by developing early warning systems and providing technical assistance to first responders and community-based risk management entities. Through USAID partners, the United States continues to prioritize food as well as water and sanitation, shelter, protection services and basic health care for vulnerable populations in Haiti. In Central America, USAID is delivering emergency food, livelihood, and protection assistance, particularly in El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala.