Austin American-Statesman – Opinion: Hunger and migration are interconnected

Original article appeared in Austin American-Statesman on Sunday November 21st 2021 by Frank Giustra.

At the same time that President Biden announced making a $10 billion commitment to tackle hunger and malnutrition, the administration was expelling more than 12,000 migrants who had converged, hungry and desperate, in Del Rio.

As the migration crisis shows, tackling hunger sustainably is more complex than just distributing food parcels. It requires strengthening rural areas all over the world that support farmers and provide them livelihoods, improving the conditions that lead to migration, often first to cities and eventually overseas.

The fact is that hunger and migration are secondary consequences of the systemic failure to invest in small-scale farmers and rural communities like those in the Northern Triangle of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, from where more than two million people are estimated to have fled since 2014.

Half of Biden’s latest package – $5 billion in total – has been allocated for overseas support in countries like these. It is critical that USAID direct these funds at building these rural economies holistically, including support that generates greater and more consistent local incomes and opportunities. Otherwise, both malnutrition and migration will continue.

At the recent UN Food Systems Summit, governments and donors recognised the need to commit more funding toward addressing these interconnected issues. They now must ensure that these pledges – which included $922 million from the Gates Foundation for nutrition – invest with these broader outcomes in mind.