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Food Security in the Middle East: Understanding Urgent Needs and U.S. Support

September 14, 2022

Food Security in the Middle East Understanding Urgent Needs and U.S. Support (English)


Food Security in the Middle East Understanding Urgent Needs and U.S. Support (Arabic)

Program Overview

This live streamed, interactive program brings together expert speakers to discuss how the United States addresses food security from technology and entrepreneurial perspectives.
The ongoing food security crisis has impacted nations in the Middle East and Africa particularly hard. US partnership programs with foreign nations provide access to expertise and assistance in building resilience in food production systems. In addition, the Biden Administration prioritizes action on climate change to address underlying challenges to secure food supplies and create conditions for long-term solutions.
The United States is a reliable partner to those nations addressing food security for their populations. With a dynamic technology and entrepreneurial approach to food security, the U.S. seeks to create long-term partnerships and favorable conditions with partners to secure food supplies.
Join us LIVE on Tuesday, October 4th at 10:00 AM EDT / 4:00 PM Cairo


Carla Bock

Regional Economist, Bureau for the Middle East, U.S. Agency for International Development

Carla Bock is a Regional Economist in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for the Middle East. Prior to joining USAID in 2020, Carla served in various roles at the U.S. Department of State. She most recently worked in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs on economic growth programming. Carla also served in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs covering regional energy security. Carla has a B.A. from Tulane University in New Orleans and a MPP from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. She speaks French and Russian.

David Wisner

Director, Office of Global Food Security, U.S. State Department

David Wisner is currently the Director in the Office of Global Food Security at the U.S. State Department. Previously, he has served as Deputy Director for Press and Strategic Communications and the Spokesperson for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, as head of the Political and Economic section at Embassy Algiers, as the Tunisia Desk Officer, and as a Staff Assistant in the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau’s Front Office. He was also a Special Assistant to Counselor Kristie Kenney covering the Middle East and Africa. David served in Khartoum, Sudan, and Bangui, Central African Republic as well. David speaks Arabic and French. David is married with two children and is a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont.


Niles Cole

Economic Officer, Office of Agricultural Policy, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. State Department

Niles Cole is a member of the United States Foreign Service and currently is an Economic Officer in the Office of Agricultural Policy for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. He joined the Foreign Service in 2006 and has served the Public Affairs Officer in Guyana and Djibouti, the Assistant Public Affairs Officer in Albania, and Cultural Affairs Officer in Uganda. In Washington D.C., he has served as a press officer for the Bureau of Consular Affairs and most recently as the Senior Advisor for Innovation for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Before joining the Foreign Service, Niles worked in advertising for Saatchi & Saatchi in New York. A native of Virginia, Niles graduated with a B.A. from Yale University in 2002. He is married to another Foreign Service officer and has two children.


Mohamed Abo ElWafa

Team Leader for the Agriculture and Agribusiness Program, USAID

Dr. Mohamed Aboelwafa joined USAID/Egypt in 2009 as a Program Manager for the agribusiness sector, specifically managing the Agribusiness Rural Development and Increasing Incomes bilateral, with a budget of more than $97 million. Dr. Aboelwafa started his career in 1990 at Faculty of Agriculture at Cairo University. Since then, he has gained considerable experience in agricultural economics and agribusiness through his work with international institutions such as German Technical cooperation, German Bank for Development, International Food and Policy Research Institute, Canadian International Development Research Center, International Center for Agriculture Research in Dry Areas, World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization, and United States Agency for International Development. His practical expertise is in international trade of food products, value chains of Egyptian horticulture, water resource management, and the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in the food sector. Dr. Aboelwafa has a Ph.D. in Agriculture Economics and a Diploma in Marketing of Agriculture Food Products from the Instituto Agronómico Mediterráneo de Zaragoza, Spain.


Kibrom Abay

Country Program Leader and Research Fellow, IFPRI Egypt

Kibrom A. Abay is a Country Program Leader/Research Fellow in the Development Strategy and Governance Division at IFPRI, based in Cairo. He is a development and agricultural economist with research interests covering rural development, agricultural transformation, urbanization, food and nutrition security, and behavioral economics. Most of his research involves impact evaluation methods. Some of his recent studies examine the behavioral and inferential implications of mismeasurement in household surveys. Much of his current research focuses on Africa South of the Sahara and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Before joining IFPRI, he has worked as Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Kibrom received his PhD in Economics from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


Moderator: Loren Hurst

Bureau of Global Public Affairs, U.S. State Department

Loren Hurst is a strategic communications professional specializing in public diplomacy, government relations, and digital communications. He specializes in the strategic use of virtual technologies to engage stakeholders, research target audiences, and build reputation management solutions. Currently, he builds interactive virtual program strategies in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Global Public Affairs where he specializes in science affairs, economics, and climate change outreach. Mr. Hurst holds degrees from the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, and California State University, Fullerton.

Background Resources

U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Food Security LEARN MORE

The Department of State prioritizes food security as an issue of national security. The Department leads and coordinates U.S. diplomatic engagement on food systems, food security, and nutrition in bilateral, multilateral, and regional fora, working closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other departments and agencies.

USAID’S Global Food Security Response LEARN MORE

USAID is responding to the growing emergency by addressing immediate supply disruptions to fulfill humanitarian needs, and through the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative, investing in medium and long-term efforts to increase investments in agricultural capacity and resilience, mitigate the global fertilizer shortage, and work with partners across the world to support the most vulnerable affected communities.

Global Food Security Summit LEARN MORE

In response to the growing global food security crisis, the United States, the European Union, the African Union, and Spain co-chaired the Global Food Security Summit on September 20 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Additional co-hosts included Germany, Colombia, Nigeria, the European Commission, and Indonesia. Includes summit livestream and additional background information.