Agriculture sector is among other critical areas that will benefit from $7 billion support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation over the next four years.
By Clifford Akumu
The foundation will support African countries and institutions working to develop and implement innovative approaches to confront hunger, disease, gender inequality and poverty.
Speaking to more than 500 students at the University of Nairobi—and thousands more across Africa who tuned in virtually—Bill Gates (co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) said Africa’s young people have the talent and opportunity to accelerate progress and help solve the world’s most pressing problems.
“The big global challenges we face are persistent. But we must remember, so are the people solving them,” said Gates.
“Our foundation will continue to support solutions in health, agriculture, and other critical areas—and the systems to get them out of the labs and to the people who need them.”
This commitment comes as the world is grappling with overlapping global crises that are worsening hunger, malnutrition, and poverty for millions. Even before the war in Ukraine disrupted the global food system, African countries were facing severe climate shocks, including droughts, locusts, and flooding.
Today, 278 million people across Africa suffer from chronic hunger, with more than 37 million people facing acute hunger in the Horn of Africa alone. COVID-19 has also caused significant setbacks in immunization and stalled decades of progress made in combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.
“Every day, men and women across Africa are rising to meet the biggest challenges facing their families, communities, and countries,” said Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“The foundation will continue to invest in the researchers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and health care workers who are working to unlock the tremendous human potential that exists across the continent.”
The new commitment to support African countries is in addition to existing Gates Foundation funding to multilateral organizations, including Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. These resources have helped strengthen health systems and increase access to health care in African countries, contributing to dramatic reductions in the rate of child deaths from diseases such as diarrheal diseases, pneumonia, malaria and measles.
The foundation is calling on global leaders to step up their commitments to finding solutions and strengthening systems in African countries. This includes investing in people and innovations that can save millions of lives and create opportunities for the world’s most vulnerable.
“Millions of Africans are feeling the acute impacts of geopolitical instability and climate change, so it is critical that we work together,” said Mark Suzman, Gates Foundation CEO. “In close collaboration with our African partners, we will invest in local institutions and new collaborations that build the long-term resilience needed to make these crises less frequent and less devastating.”
While in Kenya, Gates spent time visiting primary health care centers, leading medical and agricultural research institutes, and smallholder farms to listen to and learn from Kenyan and regional partners about what programs and approaches are making an impact, what obstacles remain, and how the foundation can better support future progress.