Obama Gives Speech to African Union 07/28 06:21
President Barack Obama highlighted his administration's efforts to combat
hunger worldwide on Tuesday as he prepared to end a historic return to the land
of his father's birth with a speech to the African Union.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- President Barack Obama highlighted his
administration's efforts to combat hunger worldwide on Tuesday as he prepared
to end a historic return to the land of his father's birth with a speech to the
Obama toured a plant operated by Faffa Foods, which participates in the U.S.
Feed the Future program. The initiative focuses on helping smaller farmers in
19 countries, including Ethiopia and 11 other African nations, expand their
Faffa, in the Ethiopian capital, is the chief supplier of baby food for
children in Ethiopia, where child malnutrition is a serious problem.
Obama said the "huge percentage" of Africans who still get their income from
agriculture can improve their yields with a few interventions. He said a woman
he met at the factory had increased her yield threefold, providing enough money
for her to buy a cow and send her children to school.
With shirt-sleeves rolled up, the president admiringly held up ears of corn
grown by Gifty Jemal Hussein, a farmer from the Gurege area of Ethiopia.
Obama said Feed the Future "is making a difference in some very concrete
Ethiopia is also the home of the African Union, a membership organization
that promotes peace and security on the continent. Obama's speech will be the
first time a sitting American president addresses the group.
Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, said the AU takes the lead on
an array of global issues, including peace and security, health and
agriculture. Obama wanted to address the continent via the AU because the U.S.
has come to work closely with the union on many of these issues.
Obama also met one on one with Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chairperson of the
African Union Commission. She also was among regional leaders Obama met with
Monday to discuss the civil strife in neighboring South Sudan.
Obama's speech will cap a five-day, two-nation tour of Africa that began
with his arrival Friday in Kenya, where his late father was born.
The president flew to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi to attend a
U.S.-sponsored business development summit, but the trip was also a homecoming
of sorts. The country considers Obama a local son and Kenyans have been waiting
years to welcome him back as president of the United States. Many lined the
streets in Kenya, as well as in Ethiopia, to watch his motorcade drive by.
Obama also reconnected with relatives on his father's side of the family,
including his sister, Auma Obama, and a grandmother.
At both stops, Obama challenged the country's leaders to clean up their
governments to attract business investments.
He also pressed them to respect and uphold human rights, including gay
equality, and basic democratic freedoms.
Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit both countries.
He arrives back in Washington early Wednesday.