Gates Foundation pledges $100M for food crisis in Africa, South Asia
Bill & Melinda Gates
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $100 million to address the food security crisis that is disproportionately hurting communities in Africa and South Asia. Increasing the production of fertilizer for African farmers and supporting women and children will be two of the main investment areas, foundation CEO Mark Suzman said Wednesday.
The Gates pledge may be just a fraction of the $2.9 billion in additional funding the United States government committed to the global food crisis response on Wednesday, but it’s substantial for a private foundation and aligns with the organization’s long-standing focus on agriculture in Africa.
The funding will go to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership, and CGIAR’s Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, according to a press statement
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The Gates Foundation also will double its commitment to UNICEF’s child nutrition fund from the current $10 million to $20 million to help it expand to include “preventative nutrition products for both women and children.”
“We’re going to be investing in local innovation and global collaboration to help countries strengthen their food systems,” Suzman said at the Gates Goalkeepers event held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Fertilizer use in sub-Saharan Africa could fall by as much as 30% this year because of shortages, which would translate to 30 million metric tons less food produced, he said. To help address this, the foundation will support leaders in Africa’s private sector to make fertilizer “more accessible and affordable,” Suzman said.
The foundation also wants to address the “disproportionate” impact of the food crisis on women and children, who are more likely to go hungry than men, he said.
“The bulk of all of our investments will be made with gender equality firmly at the top of our minds,” Suzman said.
Gender equality and African food production were also highlighted as two areas ripe for innovation and accelerated progress in the Gates Foundation’s sixth annual Goalkeepers report released earlier this month.
The foundation sees the issues as linked. Women often are not provided the same agricultural skills training as men because most of the teachers are men, co-chair Melinda French Gates said at the Goalkeepers event Wednesday. They also are less likely to be included in field trials of new crops such as more nutritious beans, she added.