Obama touts $3bn in pledges for Africa

2012-05-18 20:42

Washington - President Barack Obama on Friday said the United States has a "moral imperative" to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition in Africa despite shrinking national budgets around the world.

Obama announced $3bn in private sector pledges to help boost agriculture and food production in Africa.

He said the US and other donor nations would continue to make "historic investments" in development, though he offered no new American government pledges.

"Some have asked in a time of austerity, whether this new alliance is just a way for governments to shift the burden on to somebody else," Obama said of the private sector commitments. "I want to be clear, the answer is no."

Obama's announcement in Washington kicked off four days of international summitry. World leaders are gathering at Camp David, the presidential retreat near Washington later in the day for a summit of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations. Obama heads to Chicago on Saturday evening for Nato meetings.

While much of the G8 meetings will focus on Europe's mounting economic troubles, leaders will also hold a session on food security in Africa. Obama invited the heads of four African nation - Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania - to attend the meeting.

Obama said that even as G8 leaders dealt with Europe's pressing fiscal challenges, he felt it was "also important, also critical, to focus on the urgent challenge that confronts some 1 billion men, women and children around the world: the injustice of chronic hunger."

The White House said the private sector pledges, along with commitments from donor countries to work with African nations on food security programs, could raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years.

InterAction, an alliance of non-governmental organizations, welcomed the private sector pledges, but said they must not be a substitute for governments meeting their previous food security obligations. And the international organization Oxfam said the funds were a "nice complement at best, a deflection at worst."

Obama championed a food security initiative at the 2009 G8 summit that resulted in $22bn in government-backed pledges. The pledge period for L'Aquila Food Security Initiative ends later this year, and some humanitarian groups say much of the promised money has not been dispersed. The G8 meeting in 2009 took place in L'Aquila, Italy.

The president urged wealthy nations to make good on their pledges.

"We must do what we say. No empty promises," Obama said.

The G-8 will release an accountability report this weekend detailing how much of the $22bn is still on the sidelines. Administration officials say the US is on track to fulfill its $3.5bn pledge.

Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, sought to put the problem of food security in Africa in personal terms. Some of his relatives in Kenya live in villages where hunger is sometimes a reality, he said.

  • Christelle - 2012-05-18 20:59

    And how we despise the American imperialists with their capitalistic tendencies. Again coming to the fore for the people of Africa, who actually have no reason to be as impoverished as they are. Africa is probably the richest continant with the least natural disasters in the world, yet they are the poorest.The African people should take their attitudes about the west wanting to steal and rob them, get rid of it, and learn from them how to fish instead of always taking the charity handed to them.

      Michael - 2012-05-18 21:43

      Come on, Christelle - we DO despise he imperialist Americans! Coming to the fore for themselves. Where have you been??? You should catch up on the Occupy movement to understand USA. Get to know the Americans and their modus operandi. How is it that America has ignored Africa all this time? Because oil and natural resources weren't going anywhere with all the Africans fighting over it. The east is all but under the stars and stripes, Libya is secured, as is Iraq; Afghanistan is almost there, and Syria, well, they're a hair's breadth away from America declaring peace on them and introducing democracy to them, with warheads and drones. With democracy, the Syrians will be free to offer their oil to the US. Libya was staged (Google "journalists on the ground in Libya" for the real story. Libya started selling oil in other currency instead of dollars. Syria too. And remember, if it's in the news, it's USA-sponsored, and mostly lies. And now it's Africa's turn. Watch some news from non-alliance sources. Credo, Demand Progress, Avaaz. Hear how the USA = Corporations, and how all the big companies are bulldozing everything. And now it's Africa's turn. And with $3bn you can buy a lot of audience, a lot of ears, and a lot of favour. Don't take this as an insult or an attack, but the truth is your viewpoint is quite misinformed as it is uninformed.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-18 21:54

      What a dour, dark, twisted world you live in Michael.

      James - 2012-05-18 22:45

      Problem, we cannot afford to dump $3B into Africa in order for them to have 8 kids. That moron in the white/black house is giving Chinese money away.

      Jameel - 2012-05-19 00:33

      Africa always gets the scraps. The ENTIRE continent of Africa still receives less then Israel, now that's fairness and equality of the highest level.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-19 01:34

      Truly you're obsessed Jameel. If only you'd have the same energy about the hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims being slaughtered and maimed by the Jihadists and unelected dictators in your midsts, the world would be a better place. You don't. Hence your views are unbalanced, weak, ineffective.

      Boer - 2012-05-19 02:09

      What I dont understand is this Obama pledges money to the handouts in Africa but yet million upon millions of Americans are dirt poor and in drastic need of financial help and nothing gets done about that. Just take a walk in Hollywood or downtown Los-Angeles at night and see how many people live on the streets. Its a damn shame.

      Gerhard - 2012-05-19 15:21

      @Jameel. Do you have any female relatives left? Or were they all stoned or honour murdered?

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-05-18 21:15

    The Americans and the Europeans are without any doubt, the most generous nations in the world. Their aid for te starving, and their aid ,to fight deceases like hiv aids and malaria, save EVERY YEAR, the lives of MILLIONS OF AFRICANS!!! Hardly ever a thank you........just abuse ans insults thrown at them!!! And they keep coming back !! Totally amazing !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Michael - 2012-05-18 21:44

      See my point to Christelle above - you're unread and flamingly ignorant on any American matter. Wake up folks, the bankers in the USA have been behind every single war since World War I. War is profitable.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-18 21:55

      Michael, you're misread on any American matter, it seems. Geez, talk about being on the wrong fringes of reality.

      Jameel - 2012-05-19 00:38

      Giving someone something and controlling it whilst they have it is no form of generosity but ulterior atrocity.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-19 01:38

      "Ulterior atrocity". On the one hand the US doesn't give enough. On the other what it gives is ulterior atrocity. What a deranged, hateful view you have of donor funding for needy projects in Africa.

  • ACvanNiekerk - 2012-05-18 21:59

    Things may be as it may. People and governments make mistakes. So do we all. What's important to realize is that President Barack Obama is trying to help Africa. Our global survivability as a species will depend on the social upliftment of all nations of the world. Once resources become scarce all nations will need to be civilized and compassionate otherwise the Food World War will break out. It is the duty of all nations that can look after itself to assist those who have not been able to do so. I also agree that the money should not just be given to the people but that it should empower them to produce for themselves. You cannot, however, expect a person to work on an empty stomach. So my suggestion is give them a dry, clean place to sleep. Give them a meal or two a day. Invest the rest in facilities that can utilize merchant and textile work or other types of industries. In one generation an entire nation can be turned around. All this will remain in the hands of the sponsor of this exercise (1st world countries) and the political party in charge of the nation. Should they be genuinely interested in the welfare of the nation they will establish a first class education system above anything else that will prepare their people for adulthood. This is the single biggest failure point in Africa today - lack of education. I digress - I'd just like to thank President Barack Obama. It's a move in the right direction and I hope other nations follow suite! @drdrew7906

      charlesaduplessis - 2012-05-19 06:24

      Why help people that do not want to be helped, why hand out money to imbilcils? None of that money is ever going to go to where it is suppose to go, it is all going to end up in the fat guys pocket and will most definitely support another civil war, genocide, etc.. let Africa look after itself, that way in 50 years...... well draw your own conclusions....

      henk63 - 2012-05-19 15:31

      AC, you are very optimistic. Your suggestion has been tried before, and only resulted in more breeding beggars. They are unable to grasp the simple rules in life, they don't plan, they can't see tomorrow. The wealthy countries should make a deal first - come for sterilization, then we feed you.

  • jean.rossouwsa - 2012-05-19 07:54

    Kan nie eers sy eie land uit die gemosrs kry nie maar hy gee geld weg, en noggal aan AFRIKA. Dit is nou die mense wat die Amerikaners afmaak as ..............

  • Adil Smit - 2012-05-19 08:14

    Because America does not want SA to buy oil from Iran, our petrol price is going to go up and up and up. Maybe it's to make up for that or maybe there's oil, diamonds etc to be gained. Having said that prefer pres Obama to the Republicans.

      James - 2012-05-19 14:45

      Adil your ignorance re Drug user, Marxist, admitted liar Obama is stunning. The "Man" is an empty suit that spent nearly $1Million in campaign money to cover his past. Even his "cert of live birth" is fake. Literary agent Acton Dystel Promoted him as being born in Kenya. We have not seen ONE transcript. BTW it's really Israel/Aipac that's behind the Oil embargo.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-19 15:07

      Because America has strong principles it is denying the oppressive, woman-stoning, terrorist-funding Iranian regime, distinct from the Iranian people, funding. Apparently don't have such principles Adil. It's disappointing that a woman would enable the stoning to death of women. Why would you do this? Your oil/diamonds thought is very basic and faulty.

      Adil Smit - 2012-05-19 16:40

      James and Fred - you both need to take Evening Primrose Oil. James, I like people born in Africa. Fred, I cannot ignore the immense suffering of women and children during the wars in Iraq,Afghanistan and probably soon Iran as well. The US invasions in these countries were for oil, not to end the human rights violations in these countries.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-19 22:04

      It's all very well caring, but you've arrived at the wrong conclusion unfortunately. Who has killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, in Iraq and Afghanistan with their car bombs and suicide attacks? Furthermore, you must have missed 9/11, or chosen to ignore it altogether in concluding that the US invaded Afghanistan for oil. There is no oil in Afghanistan.

  • Fidel - 2012-05-20 14:18

    Africa needs trade, and not aid. Get rid of the tariffs that prevent cotton farmers in Mali from exporting to your country.

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