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What’s Next for Feed the Future and Civil Society in 2014?

By Tjada McKenna & Jonathan Shrier

Civil society is a key partner in our fight to end hunger, undernutrition and poverty around the world, now more than ever.

Through the Feed the Future initiative, the U.S. Government and our partners are already supporting real results and economic growth in 19 countries around the world—the kind of growth that boosts incomes and nutrition.

Rooted in the belief that hunger is solvable, our work bolsters the priorities set by our partner countries for the development of their own agriculture sectors. By working across different sectors and with a variety of partners, we can achieve a future of shared progress and prosperity.

These efforts are changing the lives of farmers, like Perusi Mawazo in Tanzania who no longer has to face the injustices of hunger, poverty and undernutrition.

As we look back on exciting progress we made this past year, we also remember the 842 million people who still experience hunger every day. And we look ahead to a new year and renewed focus on scaling up our progress as we continue to strengthen collaboration with our partners, particularly civil society organizations.

These organizations play a major role in advancing and strengthening Feed the Future’s work as well as the initiative’s contributions to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. Civil society organizations not only advocate for disadvantaged groups and build local capacity, they also promote rural development practices and environmentally sustainable agriculture practices.

They have longstanding relationships in communities, valuable technical expertise, and their understanding of local environments is key to developing lasting solutions to hunger and poverty.

Take our cooperative engagement in Malawi for example. Malawi’s President Joyce Banda got her start in civil society, including in the fight against hunger, so it’s no surprise that the partnerships between the government and civil society are strong there. Feed the Future is working with civil society partners, including farmer associations and unions, alongside Malawi’s Chamber of Commerce to address policy issues that affect smallholder farmers in the country.

These groups collaborate to reduce constraints on important value chains like dairy, groundnut and soy and to address national policy issues that support an enabling environment for food security, including in Malawi’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Cooperation Framework. This is one example of the type of collaboration that is so vital to ensuring food security and sustainable development. 

Looking ahead

In recent months, we’ve asked our civil society partners to share perspectives and recommendations on how to deepen our engagement. That feedback is informing a new Feed the Future Civil Society Action Plan, which we’ll roll out in early 2014.

By continuing to collaborate, we can ensure that smallholder farmers have access to the tools and technologies they need to thrive and are backed by supportive policy environments and enriched skillsets that, when harmonized, can make a big difference

No doubt 2014 will be an exciting year for Feed the Future and we want you to be part of the effort. Learn how you can get involved.

We’ll be sharing updates on our website and invite you to share your ideas for how you’ll help fight hunger and poverty this year. Just use the hashtag #feedthefuture on Facebook or Twitter!

Need inspiration? Check out what others are doing.

Tjada McKenna is the acting assistant to the administrator for the Bureau for Food Security at USAID and the Feed the Future deputy coordinator for development. Jonathan Shrier is acting special representative for food security and the Feed the Future deputy coordinator for diplomacy. Learn more about the authors here

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