Tag Archives: United States Agency for International Development

Why Don’t We Spend More Money at Home? Breaking Down False Notions About U.S. Foreign Aid

ForeignAid101-thumbnail_1_orig_cWhenever I go to the Hill to advocate for continued and, more importantly, increased funding for foreign aid I always hear from staffers that their constituents perpetually call their congressperson’s or senator’s office telling them to stop spending money in other countries and use that money at home. What these concerned citizens and so many in the United States, do not understand is that the United States’ federal budget is so unimaginably huge, we spend less that 1 percent on foreign aid (from budget.house.gov).

In a survey conducted last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation with everyday, average Americans only 4 percent knew that less than 1 percent of the federal budget is spent on federal aid. On average, survey respondents believed 28 percent of the budget is spent on foreign aid.

Consistently over the years most Americans believe the United States spends entirely too much on aid overseas. Since this is wrong, the information is simply not being communicated enough in my opinion. Those in the global health and development community know the right answer, but busy Americans don’t have time to dig into the issues. And that is why false assumptions about foreign aid persist.

In an effort to educate more Americans about foreign assistance, Oxfam America recently launched its Foreign Aid 101 campaign. Utilizing an infographic-rich approach Oxfam America attempts to show the history of foreign aid, where aid money goes, and why foreign aid does not go directly to corrupt governments.

While many of you who are reading this understand how much money goes to foreign aid, there are many who simply don’t know. That’s not their fault, to be sure. Blantant, false assumptions about foreign aid have grown rampant and that is why Americans always tend to cite wrong answers about foreign aid.

United States aid to foreign countries is not without its vocal critics some of who believe foreign aid is a hindrance to a low-or-middle income country’s economic growth. Citing countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan that received barely any aid, but looked to economic growth strategies to make them examples of how a country’s prosperity cannot be yoked by foreign aid.

There have also been recent working papers that show the heightened need for thorough, high-level evaluations on programs that do well, but also programs that fail in order to better determine the effectiveness of foreign aid.

Despite the banter back and forth, the number that always comes up in this conversation is less than 1 percent. What is more telling about the foreign aid conversation is that while the US spends $81 per person on foreign aid, Americans spend more money annually on candy ($101), lawn care ($126) and soft drinks ($204) according to Oxfam America.

Share this with someone you think would like to know the truth about foreign aid. 

While I am now a member of Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet I have been advocating and writing about United States foreign aid since 2011.

[Photos] Inside a Malaria Treatment Center

I have been told enough harrowing personal stories and have read enough reports to understand contracting malaria isn’t a cakewalk. And for children (especially those under the age of five) and expectant mothers malaria can be deadly. Fortunately with rapid diagnosis and malaria treatments children as well as adults can experience speedy recoveries from a disease that is both debilitating and potentially fatal.

While in Zambia last month I visited the Chongwe District Hospital in Lusaka province with Malaria No More to see how robust malaria control efforts funded by the Zambian government, USAID, the Global Fund and other NGOs and private foundations have helped drastically reduced the number of child deaths in the country. Zambia has effectively reduced the number of malaria deaths to 8000 annually through prevention measures including mass distributions of mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying, fogging, and spraying of mosquito-infected areas like bogs and dambos (shallow wetlands). The annual deaths have also been reduced because of the mass test and treatment programs that are being administered by frontline health workers around the country. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these deaths are children under the age of five because their immune systems cannot fight off the disease without the help of a positive diagnosis and follow-up medications.

In Zambia 50% of children are admitted to hospitals due to malaria according to UNICEF. You must also understand that being admitted to a hospital means that frontline health care didn’t work and that hospital care is necessary. In Zambia as well as in most developing countries, most healthcare is done on the local level. Most severe cases are referred to hospitals as was the case of these three children I met in the Chongwe District Hospital located about an hour outside of Lusaka.

While malaria is wholly preventable and treatable some children still struggle getting better when they contract the infectious disease. This little boy was extremely sick, but was steadily getting better. I took his picture as he slept with the permission of his mother who was sitting lovingly at his side.

Chongwe District Hospital Chongwe District Hospital
This little boy played with his mother’s hands and reached to breastfeed as he laid beside her. He had one of the sweetest faces I’ve ever seen and was quickly on the mend from his bout of malaria.
Chongwe District Hospital This little boy, who was snuggled with his mother, was also feeling better than before, but was quite lethargic. There are stages children have to go through to get better. Doctors had a positive prognosis for his eventual improvement. Chongwe District Hospital

By 2015, Zambia has a goal of having 100% of malaria cases are diagnosed and treated with Coartem on the community and health post level. While that goal hasn’t been achieved yet, Zambia with the expertise of Path’s MACEPA program and countrywide campaigns such as Power of One is helping Zambia steadily stand behind its commitment.

Featured Infographic of the Week: Saving Mothers at Birth

While maternal mortality has been halved since 1990 low and middle income countries still have a long way to go in order to see improved maternal mortality numbers. Sub-Saharan Africa still ranks highest in maternal mortality. For example, some of the highest maternal death rates are seen in Chad with 1 in 15 women dying during childbirth and the Democratic Republic of Congo that tallies 1 in 30 women who succumb to maternal mortality.

This 50th anniversary infographic from USAiD shows basic interventions that can help keep more women alive during childbirth. You can see maternal death rates for every country in the world in Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers 2013 report.


UN Photo/Martine Perret

Social Good Moms Write for USAID, Feed the Future

Social Good Moms Write for USAID, Feed the Future

We are so happy to see Social Good Moms and Global Team of 200 members published by USAID and Feed the Future this week in a nutrition series. Read Julia Gibson‘s and Jennifer Barbour‘s great posts. Stay tuned on Monday for another post by Shivani Cotter. Congratulations, ladies!

Read next page

Did you find this story interesting? Be the first to
or comment.


Nutrition on the Global Agenda

On Monday GAIN and Future Fortified hosted the #NutritionHangout on Google+ with ONE, USAID, and 1,000 Days. The hangout started with Tom Hart, US Executive Director of ONE presenting over 100,000 signatures of a recent nutrition campaign ONE held with its members to Dr. Raj Shah, USAID Administrator. ONE members signed the petition to put child nutrition on the global agenda and end child malnutrition by 2016. Administrator Shah mentioned that the United States has had a long tradition of putting nutrition goals on its agenda.

“America has for decades led the effort to provide nutrition around the world,” Shah said. “Today we believe there is a better approach. Feed the Future has helped 12 million children move from malnutrition.”

Shah also mentioned the need to reform United States’ role in providing nutrition around the world by reaching more children within the first 1000 days of life, which begins when babies are still in the womb.

“We all need to make investments to increase core support for nutrition,” Administrator Shah continued. “We do have to  look at doing things more efficiently. We cannot continue to spend up to 50% on overhead to get food to people.”

Tom Hart from the ONE Campaign underscored the critical need to push for nutrition reform and make malnutrition a global priority.

“We all understand what it means to have nutritious food or the lack thereof,” Hart said. “We are focusing media and social media on this G8 Summit. Those eight people really do set he agenda. They set the momentum. We hope to hold their feet to the fire about malnutrition. We are backing USAID and the Obama administration with food reform.”

The robust conversation moderated by Adrianna Logalbo, campaign head for Future Fortified, also included Tjada McKenna, Deputy Coordinator for Development at Feed the Future, and Lucy Sullivan, Executive Director of 1,000 Days, and Chef Candice Kumai,  advocate for Future Fortified.

Sullivan from 1,000 Days shed light on the importance of providing sound nutrition to millions of children within the 1000 days window. “There are a lot of biological processes critical to healthy development,” she said. “Malnutrition can cause irreversible danger.”

And McKenna discussed Feed the Future‘s role in the global nutrition landscape.  “Nutrition has been at the center of many of our development efforts”, she said. “12 million children have benefited by reduced anemia, and malnutrition.”

You can watch the full discussion below.