Statement From WFP USA’s Rick Leach on the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017

Published May 4, 2017

The 2017 omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the president today sends a clear message: The United States will continue to be a global leader in the fight against hunger. It is a testament to America’s long-standing bipartisan tradition of leadership in the fight to alleviate global hunger. Ensuring that no child suffers from hunger is an American value that crosses party lines.

In addition to increasing or maintaining funding for critical food security accounts like the Food for Peace (Title II) program, the Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP), and the McGovern Dole International Fund for Education and Child Nutrition Program, the Act includes $990 million in supplemental funding for famine relief and prevention in South Sudan, Northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

We commend congressional leaders for their commitment to the 20 million people in these countries who are facing the immediate threat of famine and to the 108 million people worldwide who are in need of emergency food assistance. This lifesaving funding will ensure that the World Food Programme and other organizations fighting hunger can provide relief to those in dire need in some of the most vulnerable places in the world. This funding will serve to stabilize increasingly fragile regions, stem mass migration and help to disrupt the link between hunger and instability.

Importantly, this Act will also help vulnerable communities recover from crisis and prepare against future shocks. Stable funding for the Feed the Future agricultural development program and nutrition accounts, for example, as well as other non-emergency food assistance, signals the U.S.’ commitment to resilience building, disaster risk reduction and early warning systems. It costs much more to respond to a famine than to avert one—prevention can save countless lives and humanitarian dollars.

While we applaud this action by the U.S. Congress, hunger and famine cannot be solved by the United States alone. It is vital that the U.S is supported in this effort by other donor nations. This Act serves as a call to action to the rest of the world to follow the U.S.’s lead by increasing their commitments to fight hunger and prevent famine. At a moment when the world is consumed with so many issues that divide us, a global effort to respond to famine can unite all people.

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