Clinton Calls for East Africa Famine Aid as U.S. Commits Extra $17 Million

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced $17 million in additional U.S. aid to East Africa for famine relief while calling for greater international support of long-term development.

“Time is not on our side,” Clinton said today in a speech in Washington to the International Food Policy Research Institute. “Every minute more people -- mostly women and mostly children -- are dying. They’re becoming sick. They are fleeing their homes. We must respond.”

The new donation brings the total of U.S. humanitarian assistance to more than $580 million this year, making the U.S. the largest single contributor to relief in the Horn of Africa, Clinton said. The aid will reach more than 4.6 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, she said.

More than 29,000 children have died since mid-May in East Africa’s worst drought in decades and more than 12 million people need life-saving care, said Shenggen Fan, director general of the institute, a research group seeking to end world hunger.

Clinton used her 30-minute speech to link the immediate famine with the need for long-range development strategies that she said would begin “breaking the cycle” of chronic food shortages.

“Investing now decreases the chances that Americans or others will be called upon in the future to face these same challenges in 10 or 20 years from now,” she said.

The Obama administration has pledged $3.5 billion as part of its “Feed the Future” initiative to support the agricultural systems of partner countries, Clinton said. She said the program helps farmers gain access to fertilizers and improved seeds, and supports the creation of cooperatives so farmers have greater purchasing power, among other things.

“We got very good at delivering emergency assistance when we put our minds to it, but we lost our way,” Clinton said. “We have to do both -- both the crisis and the future investments -- so that we can see progress in very tangible ways.”

To contact the reporter on this story: David Lerman in Washington at Dlerman1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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