Interview: Bill Gates Says Rich Countries Are Tackling Hunger in Africa All Wrong
After the Ukraine war scrambled trade networks for wheat and other key food commodities, the US and some other rich countries stepped up their food aid donations to countries in Africa and elsewhere hit hardest by skyrocketing prices. That should be a good news story. But to Bill Gates, it’s the latest example of how backward the approach to tackling global hunger has become.
The problem, Gates said in an interview with Quartz, is that food aid is accelerating in response to war, economic turmoil, and climate change—but investment in agricultural research in low-income countries is far lower, and stagnating. Innovations in drought-tolerant seeds custom-made for the climate and crops of African countries, and other bespoke technologies that are well within the reach of scientists, offer a more effective, sustainable path away from hunger. The current approach, Gates implied, is a band-aid that fails to heal the underlying wound.
Overall, according to a new report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world is failing to meet all but two of the 17 “sustainable development goals” that were adopted by the UN in 2015. Those two are both related to child mortality: If the current rate of progress continues, the world should hit the goal to bring preventable deaths of children under age 5 to 25 per 1,000 births by 2030, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which provides data for the Gates Foundation. It should also reach the goal to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births by 2030.