US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat today announced that the USAID will launch a new $180 million five-year phase of its Food for Peace (FFP) program this year to face food insecurity of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Bangladesh. She made the announcement at a function – USAID Food for Peace Program in Bangladesh, 2010-2015: Exploring Successes and Challenges – at a city hotel.
LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Khandkar Mosharraf Hossain attended the function as the chief guest while USAID Bangladesh Mission Director Janina Jaruzelski was present as the special guest. The US ambassador lauded Bangladesh’s tremendous progress in improving food security of its people over the past forty-five years and said that Bangladesh is now almost self-sufficient in rice production.
“Extreme poverty has decreased over the years, and as a result of greater access to health care, people are healthier and more productive than ever,” she added. Bernicat said the new phase of the Food for Peace program, building on the successes of the past five years, will address three ongoing objectives – enhancing food security, addressing malnutrition and increasing resilience by helping government agencies and communities prepare for inevitable disasters and recover from them more quickly and successfully.
She said the battle against food insecurity, malnutrition and natural disasters is not won in a day or a year as it is an ongoing effort to build institutions, communities and families. “It involves working in partnership with the Government of Bangladesh at all levels, the donor community, civil society and private enterprise, to develop strategies that make Bangladesh stronger, more resilient and more capable of marshaling and applying resources to address these acute needs,” she added.
Bernicat said over the past five years, USAID’s Food for Peace program has reached 3.5 million of Bangladesh’s poorest and most vulnerable people through these key projects. “We’ll only be successful in this effort by working together, building strong partnerships and sharing the knowledge we have with each other, as we’ll do here today,” she added. Despite these successes, she said, Bangladesh remains vulnerable to a variety of internal and external forces. “Fluctuations in world food prices, the effects of global climate change, and of course, seasonal flooding, cyclone and other natural disasters, all threaten to undo the progress already made.”
The US diplomat said there is still a great deal to be done to improve the economic status and standard of living, especially for the poorest and most disadvantaged. In the function, USAID presented the achievements and lessons learned from the most recent phase of its Food for Peace program. Prominent members of the government of Bangladesh as well as development partners and practitioners, international and local NGOs, implementing partners, media, and other stakeholders attended it.
Since its inception in May 2010, the current five-year, $210 million Food for Peace program has reached more than 650,000 food-insecure households through activities to improve animal health, agriculture, maternal and child health and rural livelihoods, said a USAID press release here. Although this phase of the program will end this year, a new five-year, $180 million phase will follow.
The US government, through USAID, has provided over $6 billion in development assistance to Bangladesh since 1971. In 2013, USAID provided nearly $200 million to improve the lives of people in Bangladesh, the press release added, agencies report.