Gates Foundation Awards $8.7 Million to Study Hunger

Gates Foundation Awards $8.7 Million to Study Hunger

The University of Florida in Gainesville has announced an $8.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of research aimed at addressing hunger in Ethiopia and Burkina Faso.

The grant will fund research led by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) in two areas: providing feed for dairy cows in Ethiopia and sheep and goats in Burkina Faso, and helping children under the age of two avoid chronic gut inflammation by limiting their exposure to chicken droppings. In collaboration with partners ACDI/VOCA, the Environmental Institute for Agricultural Research – Burkina Faso, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Hawassa University, the International Livestock Research Institute, and the University of California, Davis, UF/IFAS will study ways to improve the supply of quality feeds, which experts cite as perhaps the greatest constraint on livestock production in the developing world.

Livestock can help families avoid hunger and escape poverty by providing meat, eggs, and dairy products and by boosting their income when they sell animal products to neighbors, said Adegbola Adesogan, director of IFAS. "This research is particularly relevant in the face of climate change and will develop environmentally responsible strategies for farmers living in increasingly stressed environments."

The study of chronic gut inflammation, or environmental enteric dysfunction, will be conducted in partnership with Haramaya University, Ohio State University, and Washington University. EED is frequently cited as a factor in chronic malnutrition and stunting, said Arie Havelaar, professor of global food safety and zoonoses (diseases of animals that are transmissible to humans). About 40 percent of all children under the age of five in Ethiopia suffer from malnutrition and stunting.

"Safe nutrition for children remains a major challenge for the rural people of Ethiopia," said Havelaar. "Basic research questions remain about EED's pathways and effects. Our project will break new ground in determining how contaminated environments cause stunting in children and help verify steps to prevent it." 

(Photo credit: University of Florida)