As Congress looks for cuts to resolve its current budget crisis, foreign aid can easily begin to look like the low-hanging fruit that no one would object too much to losing. But as you study what each account targeted pays for, the negative consequences of a decision to cut funding to these accounts become more clear. A Washington Post article from Wednesday quotes a letter from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton objecting to budget legislation making its way through the House this week.
The bill "would be debilitating to my efforts to carry out a considered foreign policy and diplomacy, and to use foreign assistance strategically to that end," Clinton wrote.
As a member of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations that focus on the worlds most poor and vulnerable populations, Heifer is also interested in informing our supporters about the value of what could be lost in a flurry of cuts to meet the fast-approaching Aug. 2 deadline. We urge you to be part of the conversation and to contact your representatives if you have questions or concerns.
Read InterAction's case for robust foreign assistance here. We'll be outlining key accounts today and Monday that affect our work around the world to bring peace, stability and economic prosperity to families we all care about as supporters of Heifer International.
The following information includes highlights from InterAction's funding recommendations for poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance accounts for Fiscal Year 2012.
Development Assistance: $3.3 billion request
Purpose: Builds the foundation for self-sufficiency through basic education, micro and small enterprise development, agricultural improvements, democracy and governance and protecting the environment.
- Food price volatility and extreme weather such as the current drought in the Horn of Africa overburden the world's poorest and most vulnerable people, pushing more into extreme hunger. Sustaining the progress made in implementing Feed the Future is critical in ensuring the economic security and well-being of us all.
- Quality basic education drives economic growth, enhances security, builds peace and respect for human rights and creates global trading partners around the world.
- Biodiversity programs help protect some of the largest and most at-risk natural landscapes, ensure clean water, promote rural peace and security, boost health, secure environmental resources and reduce poverty for millions of people.
- A World Health Organization study concluded that every dollar invested in clean water and sanitation yields $8 in increased productivity and decreased health costs.
International Organizations and Programs: $348.7 million request
Purpose: Provides voluntary U.S. contributions to United Nations-affiliated agencies such as the U.N. Development Program, UNICEF, the U.N. Population Fund and the World Food Program.
- UNICEF funding helps save and improve the lives of children around the world.
- United Nations Women helps promote women's political participation and economic security in over 100 countries, particularly where they face the highest levels of insecurity.
- United Nations Development Program works to encourage democratic governance, plays a lead role in coordinating international responses to disasters and conflict around the world and focuses on energy, environment and health issues as they relate to human development. UNDP strives to ensure that all of its programs support gender equality and respect for human rights.
Millennium Challenge Corporation: $1.125 billion request
Purpose: The Millennium Challenge Corporation partners with impoverished countries that are committed to good governance, economic freedom and investing in their people to fund projects that reduce poverty by removing obstacles to economic growth in sectors such as health, transportation, agriculture, power and fiscal transparency.
Justification: The model clearly works in two main ways. Through the incentive for better governance it creates: the record clearly shows sustainable and constructive policy changes in multiple countries seeking to qualify for MCC candidacy. Second, it works through country-owned and therefore sustainable projects it funds that are creating economic growth and raising incomes.
Photo by Geoff Oliver Bugbee