© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen gives a speech after she visited the House of Slaves (Maison des Esclaves) at Goree Island off the coast of Dakar, Senegal January 21, 2023. REUTERS/Ngouda Dione/File Photo
By Andrea Shalal
MWALUMINA VILLAGE, Chongwe District, Zambia (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday called for urgent action to improve long-term food security in Africa and around the world, while adapting agricultural practices and technology to the changing climate.
Yellen spoke after hearing from a woman beekeeper and other farmers whose work was supported by a U.S.-backed project in a rural Zambian village. Part of the broader Green Climate Fund, the project helps small-scale farmers in 155 villages in Zambia produce more food and manage the impacts of climate change.
“This project shows how our countries can partner to address two of the most critical issues facing Zambia and the world: food security and climate adaptation,” said Yellen, the first Cabinet-level U.S. official to visit Zambia in a decade.
The former Federal Reserve chair also met with the Twalumbu Savings Group, which helps its members pool resources to invest in livestock, equipment and seeds and feed, which in turn helps them expand their food production and revenues.
Member Faustina Piri welcomed the U.S. official’s visit to the remote area as a big achievement, noting that the savings club was making “a big difference” in improving the lives of all those involved.
Yellen’s visit came on the sixth day of her three-country tour of Africa, the first of a series of visits planned this year by President Joe Biden and key members of his Cabinet as part of a concerted push to expand ties with African nations.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has exacerbated existing climate and conflict-related pressures on food supplies across the world, Yellen said, speaking at the farmstead of Dorothy Kaluma, who has built up a small herd of goats and larger grain stores with the help of the Green Climate Fund-supported program.
The number of people facing acute food insecurity worldwide has reached 345 million in 80 countries since the war began, with about 2 million in Zambia alone facing acute food insecurity, Yellen said.
The United States and the African Union last month signed a strategic food security initiative at Biden’s African Leaders Summit.
Washington will continue to support short-term efforts to increase access to food, after committing…