In the eight months since I joined the State Department, I've learned firsthand about the important and wide ranging work done by the women and men who work here and around the world to enhance our national and economic security. We help train the Mexican National Police forces who battle violent drug gangs just south of our border and serve alongside our military in Iraq and Afghanistan. We negotiate trade agreements and promote U.S. exports by reducing barriers to commerce.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates used to say that the Department of Defense has as many people in military bands as the State Department has in the Foreign Service. With just over one percent of the entire federal budget, we have a huge impact on how Americans live and how the rest of the world experiences and engages America.
Here are a few examples of what we do on behalf of the American people:
By Andie Long This blog post originally appeared on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's "Impatient Optimists" Blog
Photos and stories from the hunger crisis in The Horn of Africa—a region that includes Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia—have brought to light suffering on an almost unimaginable scale. One of the largest refugee camps in Kenya, which was built to sustain 90,000 people, is now housing more than 400,000, with thousands more refugees arriving every day.
The immediate needs are great, with more than 12 million people at risk of starvation in the midst of the worst drought the region has seen in sixty years. As funds have started to trickle in from around the world, nongovernmental organizations like ours are able to expand our operations to save as many lives as possible. But in this age of media myopia, we can’t afford to let our attention waver.
With drought devastating farms from the Horn of Africa to the Panhandle of Texas, I journeyed to one of the frontlines of climate change to “chew the news,” as the Maasai say.
“Climate change for us is what is visible,” explained Leina Mpoke, the rural livelihoods manager in Kenya for Concern Worldwide, the Irish humanitarian agency.
What the Maasai in southern Kenya see are shorter drought cycles, ever-more unpredictable rains, less defined seasons. “The cold season used to end in July, but now it can extend into September,” Leina said on a cool day in mid-August. “And when the sun shines, people say the sun is closer to us. It’s noticeably hotter. By 9 in the morning, people are already sweating. It used to be 11 or 12 before you would sweat.”
Leina was driving to his home village, a Maasai settlement outside the larger town of Kajiado, south of Nairobi. He recalled his days in secondary school, at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro near the Tanzania border, where maize was once a major crop.
A Mother’s Bond: My Visit to an Ethiopian Therapeutic Feeding Camp
By Aysha House-Moshi, USAID Congressional Liasion Officer This commentary was oringinally posted on USAID Impact Blog
I have a one-year-old little girl at home, just like Aisha, the mother I photographed during my visit to the drought-impacted region of Ethiopia. Just like this Aisha, I hope that I am nourishing my daughter’s body, mind, and spirit by providing her everything within my means. Unlike Aisha, my daughter weighs nearly three times more than her one-year-old little girl, and she has come to this therapeutic feeding camp because it is her best hope for food for her daughter and for herself.
While visiting Ethiopia last week, I saw examples of how USAID is serving the entire food continuum – food aid projects for the hungry, resilience projects for those able to work for food, and food security projects to support smallholder farmers who are delivering prized harvests to markets. All of these projects are making a difference, but as I looked at the growing numbers of hungry, risking their lives to migrate to camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, I couldn’t help but to focus on my fellow mothers risking everything to feed their children and feed our future.
It is less than two hundred miles from the village of Kabuchai, where Sanet Biketi began his maize harvest last week, to the village of Kipnai, where hunger reigns. Yet there was none of the surplus production of Kabuchai’s farmers on offer at an emergency food distribution in Kipnai this week. Instead, the food came from farms far more distant.
There were yellow split peas and maize and fortified vegetable oil from the U.S., and maize from Uganda purchased by the World Food Program with donations from Japan. The imported food was carried to Kipnai by trucks that had come from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, which is clear on the other side of the country.
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