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World's Starving Poor Not a Priority for the Trump Administration

In the name of scaling back expenses, the Trump administration plans to exit a global initiative aimed at feeding the world's poor, a program for which the U.S. was the biggest donor. (Image credit: UNAMID/Flickr)

In the name of scaling back expenses, the Trump administration plans to exit a global initiative aimed at feeding the world's poor. The United States was the program's largest donor, contributing one third of its total funding.

The Trump administration has pulled out of a popular Obama-era program that helped feed the world’s poorest people. A key Treasury Department official revealed last week that the United States would stop funding the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, a seven-year-old project that fund improvements in agricultural productivity across the world.

Experts say the U.S. exit will have disastrous consequences.

“We already have four famines running concurrently,” Marie Clarke, a member of the GAFSP steering committee and executive director of ActionAid USA, told Foreign Policy, referring to food shortages in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. “This is a fund that gets to the poorest of the poor.”

Treasury undersecretary for international affairs David Malpass said in written testimony that nixing the program is necessary because department is overwhelmed with good causes.

“The [Treasury] is currently participating in nearly 100 international working groups and organizations. Each has the goal of benefiting the world, but each requires staff time, energy and often travel," he wrote. "I will work to review these various processes to determine which of them can be wound down, scaled back, or converted to financial plans based on restraint rather than expansion.”

Clarke said the undersecretary's reasoning makes no sense, as the program's overhead is only 7 percent, making GAFSP “one of the most efficient funds out there.”

So far, the food program has made more than $1 billion in commitments around the world, particularly in chronically affected areas in Africa. It boasts many successes: In Rwanda, for example, areas receiving funds from the program increased their maize, beans, and potato yield by as much as 219 percent in two years.

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