U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appealed on Thursday for support for President Barack Obama’s embattled global farm-aid program, The Washington Post reported.
Clinton said that the “Feed the Future” program promoted reforms which had prevented the drought in East Africa from being far worse.
The program is facing potentially steep cuts by Congress. The White House has requested $1.4 billion for the project in 2012, but a House Appropriations subcommittee slashed several accounts that could leave the program with about one-third less in funding.
Clinton was quoted as saying that working with poor countries to provide things like improved seeds and extension services could save lives.
“While some might say that this is a conversation for another time — that we should worry about preventing food crises only after this one has passed — I respectfully disagree,” she was quoted as saying in a speech at the International Food Policy Research Institute, based in Washington.
“Right now ... we must rededicate ourselves to breaking the cycle of food shortages, suffering and dislocation that we see playing out once again in the Horn of Africa,” she added.
A total of about 12 million people are in dire need of food in East Africa because of the drought. At the same time, the militant Al-Shabab group is limiting access to parts of Somalia it controls.
Clinton appealed to al-Shabab to drop its opposition to international aid groups bringing food to the country.