Administration Official Discusses Obama’s Commitment To Africa’s Food Security In Reuters Interview

Food security is central to President Barack Obama’s Africa policy, “the administration’s top official for Africa,” Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson, said in an interview with Reuters. “We want to see the food security initiative take on greater momentum as more African countries are drawn into this program,” Carson said. 

The U.S. has committed $3.5 billion to the G8’s three-year, $22 billion food security initiative announced last summer. Carson said, “It is the first time we have seen such a powerful signature initiative come so quickly in an administration’s term in office. … This has been one of the fastest and swiftest starts that we’ve seen.”

“Carson said the United States remained committed to current assistance projects, including the more than $60 billion pledged to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, billions of dollars in development grants made under the Millennium Challenge program … He said that African countries could also expect new U.S.-led initiatives to emerge, including broader efforts to promote health and new strategies to protect the environment,” the news service writes. Though the food security initiative is globally focused, Carson said, “clearly its impact will have its greatest effect on Africa.”

Carson also noted travels to Africa by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama, and pointed to some countries that have not exhibited the anti-corruption and good governance practices Obama outlined during his speech in Ghana. “Africa knows that the era of military dictatorship is a part of its past and should not be a part of its future,” he said. “My impression is that democracy remains strong in Africa and that Africans want it and are determined and committed to trying to achieve it” (Quinn, 3/22).

A separate Reuters analysis piece also looks at U.S. Africa policy under Obama. “The message Africans say they are hearing most clearly from Washington is that corruption is the root of many of Africa’s troubles,” the news service writes, noting increases in funding for a USAID pro-democracy program in Senegal and its Africa budget overall. The article includes quotes from African experts with different perspectives on Obama’s approach to Africa (Magnowski, 3/18).

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