Corruption investigation of key player in Obama’s plan to fight African hunger

Flickr, aed10e

Maybe this is getting so little media attention because it’s in Norway.

At any rate, it’s worth noting because:

Last week, at the opening of the G8 conference hosted by the United States, President Barack Obama announced a $3-billion, largely private sector plan aimed at fighting hunger in Africa.

Some celebrated it as a welcome initiative by the world’s wealthiest nations — a big win in the effort to reduce hunger in sub-Saharan Africa and a move that will “lift 50 million people out of poverty.” Obama said he regarded the public-private partnership, dubbed the National Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, as a “moral imperative.”

Others saw it more as a punt, an attempt to divert attention from the failure of the G8 nations to live up to earlier commitments of food aid and to deflect responsibility over to the private sector — to agri-business firms which already have commercial reasons to invest in Africa, some of which may do little to alleviate the plight of poor farmers.

Now we learn that the top player on Obama’s private sector plan to fight hunger in Africa is under criminal investigation over allegations of corruption – bribes paid to foreign officials.

According to the Obama Administration, specifically the U.S. Agency for International Development, as much as $2 billion of their $3 billion initiative is based on a plan by a Norwegian firm, Yara International, to build a fertilizer plant in Africa (location unspecified).

Little noticed so far are a few news reports of the Norwegian government’s investigation of Yara for criminal corruption — bribes paid to gain foreign contracts. The Wall Street Journal reported today that two Yara executives have stepped down (well, over really … since they kept their jobs) due to the probe. This, the WSJ notes, is the third corruption investigation of Yara and its work overseas.

Oxfam, which has worked to fight both hunger and corruption in Africa, noted that the Sahel region is heading right now into a food crisis and that the international community has not responded fully to this crisis.

A number of international aid advocacy organizations have criticized the Obama private-sector plan as both inadequate and irresponsible given the failure of governments to follow through on pledged aid. The fact that two-thirds of the money for Obama’s plan to fight hunger in Africa is coming from a corporation with “integrity issues” may prompt further scrutiny and critiques.


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.

  • Kaganga John

    If we are to achieve sustainable development,the UN Global leaders should have Zero tolerance  on Corruption and should impose very heavy punishment to those who are found guilty, if it is true that some of the companies  to be involved in the fighting of poverty and hunger  are corrupt then need to be isolated. After fact findings they should be published globally whether from developed  or developing countries where the situation is becoming worse and worse every day.

    Globally,the population is growing at a very high rate especially in the developing countries,land garbing is becoming too much making the poor small scale farmer more vulnerable,the land on which food is grown is getting much degraded specifically the fragile land on which the poor is living  to make matters worse,climate change  is causing a lot of people to loose their lives and property every day.

    Where will the poor farmer seek rescue if the rich who could save the situation is doing otherwise.

    We should team up and do some thing,we should not beat around the bush,a stone must be called a stone but again we need not to black mail others.research on this topical issue should be paramount, facts and way forward should be globally published before it is to late.let us work as  a team in order to meet the millennium development  goals and targets.

    Kaganga John -Food security Fellow,small scale farmer and Environmental Activists


    Kikandwa Environmental Association  (Uganda-Africa)

    Phone;+256 0 772 494697 /+256 0 772 674647

    Email; /