Information and stories on foreign aid.

U.S. Space Force Budget
The U.S. Space Force (USSF) emerged as the newest branch of the Armed Forces in December 2019. It lies within the Department of the Air Force, which means the Secretary of the Air Force is responsible for its overall operations. While the USSF is a pioneering endeavor meant to expand U.S. capabilities to protect Americans, the $15.4 billion proposed U.S. Space Force budget for the fiscal year 2021 is a sum that would prove transformative in fighting global poverty. The following are examples of what $15.4 billion could do in this fight, as well as a comparison to U.S. funding allocated to foreign aid in general.

The US Space Force Budget and Foreign Aid

  1. Starvation in Africa: According to Save the Children, a box of nutritious peanut paste, which could treat one child with severe acute malnutrition in Africa for 10 weeks, costs $40. Meanwhile, $100 could cover medication, transportation and all other costs that one associates with treating a single child with severe acute malnutrition. In addition, $210 could pay for a household to feed and protect livestock, ensuring stable food supply and potential income for that family. With the $15.4 billion that makes up the U.S. Space Force budget, the U.S. or world community could provide 385 million children 10 weeks worth of peanut paste. In fact, $15.4 billion is sufficient funding to help 154 million children with severe acute malnutrition or enable over 73 million households in Africa to have livestock. These are only a few examples of aid that organizations provide to a continent suffering from intense poverty, but they clearly illustrate the fact that these policies are feasible with more funding.
  2. Syrian Refugees: UNICEF requested $864.1 million and $852.5 million for the 2020 and 2021 portions, respectively, of its Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan 2020-2021. This funding would go toward humanitarian assistance for Syrian refugees and other vulnerable children in the region, including education access for refugees in Turkey, clean water supply for refugees in Lebanon and mental health support for refugees in Egypt. To complement the funding for Syrian refugees outside Syria, UNICEF requested $294.8 million to meet the needs of families and children in Syria in 2020. This intention of this funding was to provide things like vaccinations against polio, education support and improved water supply. The total for the two years of the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan and the 2020 support for those inside Syria is just over $2 billion. The U.S. Space Force budget of $15.4 billion would be enough to increase the scale of these operations about sevenfold, illustrating the clear scope of what aid groups could do with that quantity of funding.
  3. Foreign Aid: Many Americans believe that foreign aid takes up as much as 25% of the U.S. federal budget. In fact, the U.S. spent about $39.2 billion in the fiscal year 2019 on foreign aid, making up less than 1% of the federal budget. For the fiscal year 2021, the U.S. is requesting about $29.1 billion for foreign aid. The $15.4 billion for the USSF would be just over half the amount requested for the entirety of U.S. foreign aid funding. The gap between public perception and the reality surrounding foreign aid is startling, which demonstrates why this comparison is especially important.

Contextualizing Funding

While the idea is not necessarily that spending on poverty eradication should come at the expense of the U.S. Space Force Budget, these examples simply show what this level of funding could do if the U.S. or global community directed a similar amount elsewhere. Military funding is important — the U.S. cannot expect to be a dominant power without it. However, people must see this funding in the context of overall aid to countries that are struggling with humanitarian crises.

Foreign aid not only helps millions of suffering people all over the world but also addresses the root causes of many violent issues. As such, increasing funding for poverty eradication would serve U.S. security well. The U.S. Space Force budget is just one case that shows how effective a larger amount of foreign aid spending could be. In the long term, this would not only increase U.S. security but international security as well, lowering the risk of violent conflict involving the U.S. in the future while alleviating the suffering so many find themselves enduring.

– Connor Bradbury
Photo: Flickr

poverty relief reduces disease
The universal rise in global living standards has helped combat diseases, spurred on by international poverty relief efforts. In fact, one study found that reducing poverty was just as effective as medicine in reducing tuberculosis. Poor health drains an individual’s ability to provide for themselves and others, trapping and perpetuating a cycle of poverty. Better public health increases workforce productivity, educational attainment and societal stability. Here are 5 ways poverty relief reduces disease.

5 Ways Poverty Relief Reduces Disease

  1. Better Sanitation: According to the WHO, approximately 827,000 people die each year due to “inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene.” Poor sanitation is linked to the spread of crippling and lethal diseases such as cholera and polio, which hamper a nation’s development. By investing in the sanitation of developing nations, the rate of disease decreases and the food supply improves. Furthermore, an all around healthier society emerges that can contribute more to the global economy. In fact, a 2012 WHO study found that “for every U.S. $1.00 invested in sanitation, there was a return of U.S. $5.50 in lower health costs, more productivity, and fewer premature deaths.”
  2. Improved Health Care Industries: A hallmark of any developed nation is the quality of its health care industry. A key part of reducing poverty and improving health, is investing in health care initiatives in developing countries. When the health care industry is lacking (or even non-existent), the population experiences high levels of disease, poverty and death. Many American companies have already invested millions into the medical sectors of developing nations, however. In September 2015, General Electric Healthcare created the Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, a business unit that donates millions in money and medical equipment to developing nations.
  3. More Informative Education: Knowledge is power when it comes to fighting disease. Educational institutions provide a nation with one of the best tools to fight diseases of all kinds. According to a WHO report, “education emphasizing health prevention and informed self-help is among the most effective ways of empowering the poor to take charge of their own lives.” Schools must teach about proper sanitation, how to spot warning signs and form healthy behaviors. School health programs are also an invaluable resource in times of pandemics and disease outbreaks, as they coordinate with governments. This cooperation has helped tackle diseases, including HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. Eritrea, for example, has one of the lowest rates of infection in the region (less than 1%), partially due to an increase in HIV/AIDS education measures.
  4. Enhanced Nutrition: Malnutrition and food insecurity weaken the immune systems of the impoverished and significantly lower one’s quality of life. Millions of children each year die from famine or end up crippled due to dietary deficiencies. By investing in and supporting agricultural sectors of developing nations, aid programs help in not only decreasing poverty, but also in cutting down on illness of all kinds. Likewise, international aid during conflicts and natural disasters is crucial to ensuring the continued health and productivity of a country. One nation combating such an issue is Tanzania. With the help of aid organizations like UNICEF, Tanzania has decreased malnutrition for children under five.
  5. More Effective Government Services: Arguably encompassing all the previous categories, governments with more money and resources can effectively help stop diseases. A healthy general population leads to more productivity, which increases tax revenue. Central governments can then invest that money back into health care and sanitation, creating a positive feedback loop. Governments also provide a centralized authority that can cooperate with organizations like the WHO. In the 21st century, communication and cooperation between world governments is key to halting pandemics and working on cures.

Impact on COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of how improved government resources provide poverty relief, which helps combat the virus in the developing world. For example, Kenya has less than 2,000 cases due to effective government actions in curbing the spread of the virus. The systems and governmental services built up over past decades sprang into action and coordinated with organizations like the WHO. The government has also implemented various economic measures to help mitigate the negative economic side-effects. Moving forward, it is essential that governments and humanitarian organizations continue to take into account the importance of poverty relief for disease reduction.

– Malcolm Schulz 
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic. A population of 3.194 million resides in Puerto Rico and represents more than 0.04% of the world population, yet many are living in severe levels of poverty to this day. Puerto Rico has been dynamic and competitive when it comes to its local economies until recent years. Its economy now relies mostly on aid from the United States government. Here are seven facts about poverty in Puerto Rico.

7 Facts About Poverty in Puerto Rico

  1. More than 44% of the population of Puerto Rico lives in poverty, compared to the national U.S. average of approximately 12%. That is 1.4 million Puerto Rican citizens in comparison to 39.3 million U.S. citizens. Puerto Rico relies mainly on financial and federal aid from the U.S. government because it has ties to the U.S. as a U.S. colony. As a result, the country often struggles to independently support itself.
  2. Before the recent hurricanes, around 1.5 million of the Puerto Rican population suffered from food insecurity. The child food insecurity rate was 56%, which is 281,335 Puerto Rican children. The main reason for food insecurity is that hurricane season often hits Puerto Rico rather hard, and its access to imported goods only comes from the U.S. There are local countries and islands surrounding that are willing to help, but due to the ruling that Puerto Rico can only receive U.S. goods, these essential goods have higher tax rates. To improve this, the Puerto Rican governor organized committees to correspond with third party task forces in the U.S. to ship essential supplies over, especially after Hurricane Maria.
  3. Hurricane Maria, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in nearly a century, made landfall on September 20, 2017. It compounded the destruction that Hurricane Irma caused just weeks before, affecting residential living, wildlife and everything in between. For example, areas that Hurricane Maria hit left homes without a proper roof, even over 600 days after the hurricane. Infrastructure damage can only receive so many repairs, as when hurricane season returns less than a year later, Puerto Rico often lacks proper recovery and preparation. An NGO aid project called All Hands Volunteers kickstarted to gut and remove debris, as well as demolish unsafe structures and repair cement roofing. It operates out of two cities, Barranquitas and Yabucoa.
  4. A year after Hurricane Maria, 10s of thousands in Puerto Rico are still living under blue tarps, designed as temporary roofs. This is the result of a lack of funds, resources and helping hands to Puerto Rico during its greatest and most desperate time of need. To improve this, task forces in U.S. states like Florida have been using small charter planes to import essential goods and supplies to bring relief and rebuild as best as possible. This is necessary even years after the initial storm.
  5. Families are struggling to find work to afford food, water, shelter and resources to rebuild their homes. Whether families have a solid income or not, it is apparent that most are food insecure to this day as a result of the storm. This is especially accurate when 80% of the island or 2.5 million people were without electricity for over a year after the hurricane. People also only have employment from establishments that are still standing or that people rebuilt.
  6. Due to the living conditions of the island, several thousand citizens have moved out of Puerto Rico and have yet to return. This could mean that they flew to stay with family in the U.S. or had to find work and shelter elsewhere with short notice. Some left temporarily, and others have yet to return to their homes due to a lack of funds for repairs. Puerto Rico wants to avoid further devastation and harm to its citizens during the season.
  7. While Puerto Rico is still recovering, the damage it experienced could have been much worse. The citizens still living on the island have shown compassion, resilience and teamwork toward one another. Without water or power, the people have shown great strength and support through waiting for recovery assistance, both financially and physically. This shows that against all odds, the citizens of Puerto Rico have managed to come back with all the strength they could muster to rebuild and recover.

Poverty in Puerto Rico is minimizing gradually and it is thanks to the help and assistance from the citizens of the United States standing alongside the island. These seven facts about poverty in Puerto Rico have shown that hurricane season will always have a destructive impact, but with continued assistance, poverty in Puerto Rico can reduce.

– Kimberly Elsey
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid in Vietnam
Vietnam’s economy has grown remarkably over the last two decades. However, this growth would not have been possible without foreign aid to Vietnam. USAID’s work in supporting Vietnam’s economic growth and development is an excellent example of foreign aid at work. Here are five exceptional foreign aid projects in Vietnam that foster hope for positive results around the world.

5 Foreign Aid Projects in Vietnam

  1. Economy Foreign Aid Projects: USAID collaborates with Vietnam’s legal and regulatory affairs to expand foreign investment and economic growth. It works with the nation’s government and private sectors to move Vietnam into an internationally regulated and globalized market economy. For instance, USAID works to promote transparency in the governance of trade. The USAID Trade Facilitation Program intends to facilitate trade and communication between national and local customs officials. Lastly, USAID Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises (LinkSME) facilitates relationships and streamline trading processes between buyers (SMEs) and suppliers. LinkSME ensures the presence of key policies and regulations in place to carry out business transactions and trade.
  2. Education Foreign Aid Projects: Through USAID, the Building University-Industry Learning and Development through Innovation and Technology (BUILD-IT) Alliance and the Improving Access, Curriculum and Teaching In Medical Education and Emerging Diseases (IMPACT-MED) Alliance gather up efforts and resources from Vietnam and partner governments as well as leaders and educators in the field to enhance education on medicine, technology and engineering. The ongoing reform efforts aim for better instructional and educational experiences with modern technology and maintaining accreditation standards. Additionally, they strive for more intense faculty training, contemporary curriculum designs and positive relationships with academic partners. The outcomes from such reform efforts produce graduates with the preparation to join the workforce and maintain the high standards of the fields.
  3. Environment Foreign Aid Projects: There are many foreign aid programs and activities that USAID coordinated that help address climate change in Vietnam such as the Vietnam Low Emission Energy Program (V-LEEP), the Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program (VFD), the USAID Green Annamites Project and the Climate Resilient and Sustainable Urban Development Program. V-LEEP works to promote and sustain efficiency in renewable energy generation and usage as well as monetary investment into the work. The VFD helps to minimize deforestation in a joint effort with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The USAID Green Annamites Project supports land use in an eco-friendly fashion, conserves biodiversity and helps struggling communities bounce back from hardships in the Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue provinces. The Climate Resilient and Sustainable Urban Development Program work with the Asian Development Bank to support Vietnam’s urban development by participating in policy making and setting operation guidelines.
  4. Global Health Foreign Aid Projects: Public health concerns such as HIV, tuberculosis and influenza can have negative impacts on Vietnam’s economy. Through USAID, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) organizes events and treatment for patients. USAID also funds the Vietnamese government and provides technical support to health organizations across the country to address avian and other influenzas, as well as overlooked tropical diseases and pandemics. Vietnam has made accomplishments with a nationwide methadone distribution program that reached 50,000 patients, resulting in a reduction of avian-influenza cases from 2000 to less than 50 cases in just six years (2005-2011) while containing the potential pandemic.
  5. Disabled People Foreign Aid Projects: USAID has supported more than 30,000 persons with disabilities for more than 30 years with more than $125 million in U.S. government aid. USAID works to establish disability laws and regulations at the national level as well as the local level. The International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is one example of USAID’s contributing efforts. USAID also supports eight disability projects that focus on rehabilitation and disability awareness as well as policies and regulations. Lastly, USAID also supports local disability awareness organizations.

USAID development projects foster hope around the globe. Like in Vietnam, these projects convey the message that foreign aids are constantly working toward positive change for many.

– Hung M Le
Photo: USAID

The Trump Administration’s Foreign Aid PolicySince the 1940s, the U.S. has been a global leader in foreign aid. The first U.S. foreign assistance program began when Secretary of State George Marshall enacted the Marshall Plan. The program provided $12 billion to help a war-torn Europe recover after World War II. In 1961, President Kennedy started the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) after signing the Foreign Assistance Act into law. Today, the U.S. operates foreign aid programs with the aid of more than 20 U.S. government agencies, helping more than 100 countries. Since taking office, the Trump administration’s foreign aid policy has consisted of numerous attempts to pare down U.S funding for foreign aid.

The Trump Administration’s Foreign Aid Policy: 2017-2019

  1. The White House proposed a budget requesting a 31 percent cut in funding for several different agencies and programs.
  2. The Trump administration canceled $300 million in aid to Pakistan, claiming the nation had failed to properly combat terrorism in the region.
  3. The Trump administration cut the budget to fund Palestinian refugees through the U.N. Relief and Works Agency to $65 million from the initial promise of $125 million.
  4. The Trump administration ended aid to the Northern Triangle of Central America for not doing more to prevent illegal immigration to the U.S.
  5. The White House froze billions of dollars worth of foreign aid funding. The decision was in an effort to identify “unobligated resources of foreign aid” and “ensure accountability.”

The freeze in August created a logjam that left many officials at the State Department scrambling in the days before the end of the fiscal year. As a result, the State Department was unable to deliver more than $70 million to non-profit and humanitarian organizations in time. To help understand this complex process and the role of the executive and legislative branches in the funding of foreign aid, The Borgen Project reached out to an expert in the field.

An Expert’s Opinion

Dr. Steven Shirley, Ph.D. is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Maine and Southern New Hampshire University. He earned his doctorate in International Studies from Old Dominion University, has lived and worked abroad in Southeast and East Asia. He has authored several “Op-Eds, articles and books.” According to Shirley, foreign policy is the responsibility of the executive branch. Although Congress provides the budget, it cannot dictate its allocation. That power lies with the executive branch.

Critics see the Trump administration’s move as a “bureaucratic maneuver” intended to surreptitiously cut funding for foreign aid. One official who is familiar with the matter said this method of cutting funds will have “major ripple effects.” Dr. Shirley believes that some good may yet come from these ripples. He thinks it may increase accountability for the agencies in regard to spending. Dr. Shirley says that requiring an account of money spent is “fiscally responsible” although it runs the danger of delaying the disbursement of funds.

Countries That Are Impacted

Because of the Trump administration’s foreign aid policy, various programs are in jeopardy. Due to a lack of funding, four non-profit humanitarian organizations working in China are at risk of shutting down. These NGOs remain unnamed due to the sensitivity of their work in China. The cuts also affected roughly $1 million to support programming in Ethiopia through the non-profit group Freedom House. Freedom House receives its primary funding in the form of grants from USAID and the State Department.

In Ethiopia, Freedom House is working to improve human rights, aid the country in its transition to democracy and establish a free press. According to Freedom House, Ethiopia is an authoritarian state ruled by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. Despite progress toward eliminating extreme poverty, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Around 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and millions suffer from food insecurity. Transitioning to democracy is often the first step in improving these living conditions.

These examples show that U.S. foreign aid does a lot of good around the world. The Trump administration’s foreign aid policy would cut funding to a lot of these programs. What long-term effects this may have globally are yet to be seen.

Adam Bentz
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Foreign Assistance
Foreign assistance is funding from one country to other countries for the purpose of security, development, humanitarian relief and/or bolstering of global diplomacy. Moreover, foreign assistance is an investment in global trade to increase the vitality of a country’s domestic economy through the support of the global economy. The following 10 facts about foreign assistance will paint a clearer picture of the history and scale of foreign assistance in the global economy.

10 Facts About Foreign Assistance

  1. The Marshall Plan: The Marshall Plan paved the way for the modern foreign assistance framework in 1948, financing more than $15 billion in assistance to help rebuild a war-ravaged Europe. Emerging from the Marshall Plan and the Conference of Sixteen, the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) emerged in April 1948. The OEEC established an organization to work on a recovery program and a way to supervise the distribution of aid.
  2. Creation of the Development Assistance Group (DAG): In January 1960, the Special Economic Committee of the OEEC created the Development Assistance Group (DAG) to serve as a forum for a consultation to aid donors. In September 1961, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) superseded the OEEC and the DAG became the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Since then, the DAC has been the foreign assistance venue for the world’s major donor countries and the leading authority in foreign aid statistics. The DAC currently consists of 30 country members, such as Australia,  Canada, Japan, Korea and the United States along with other more developed nations. Without the OECD’s DAC, this list of 10 facts about foreign assistance would be dramatically different.
  3. The Official Development Assistance (ODA) Standard: The DAC defined and adopted the Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 1969 as the gold standard metric for foreign aid. The OECD maintains a list of developing countries and territories that receive ODA. If foreign assistance goes to a country or territory not on the list, people do not consider it ODA. The list is periodically updated and currently contains over 150 countries or territories with per capita incomes below $12,276, as of 2010.
  4. ODA Contributions: From 1960 to 2017, DAC countries contributed $29 trillion in ODA. In 2017 alone, DAC countries contributed $162 billion in ODA and the top three recipients were India, Afghanistan and Syria.
  5. Contribution Rates: People measure the contribution rate for each DAC country based on the country’s ratio of ODA to Gross National Income (GNI). The United Nations outlines in Sustainable Developments Goals, Goal 17 to revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development with a target contribution rate of 0.7 percent. In 2018, only three DAC countries exceeded this benchmark including Sweden (1.04 percent), Luxemburg (0.98 percent) and Norway (0.94). Averaged among the 30 DAC countries, reports determine that ODA is 0.31 percent of GNI.
  6. Africa and Global ODA: Between 2010 and 2017, African countries received the largest share of Global ODA, receiving over $27 billion. Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania were the top three recipients of this foreign assistance. Within African foreign assistance, social sector investment receives the highest volume of commitments typically falling between 30 to 50 percent of the total ODA. Social sector commitments include investments for education, health, population, water quality, civil society and infrastructure services. These investments work to alleviate poverty and improve less developed country’s abilities to participate in the global market.
  7. China and ODA: Over the last three decades, China has transformed from a recipient of aid to one of the most influential foreign policy players in the world. Although not measured as ODA, China has contributed an estimated $354 billion in foreign assistance between 2000 and 2014, in comparison to approximately $394 billion in U.S. foreign aid (USAID). China has remained non-transparent in its funding of overseas projects, creating an informational black hole for those trying to understand where the country’s money goes.
  8. The United States and ODA: The United States of America currently and historically ranks as the highest-grossing ODA contributor of the DAC countries, investing $34 billion in 2018. Today, the U.S. maintains foreign assistance programs in over 100 countries across the globe through the oversight of more than 20 different U.S. government agencies. These investments further America’s foreign policy interests on issues ranging from free-market expansion, ensuring stable democracies, combating extremism and confronting the root causes of poverty, while simultaneously fostering global goodwill.
  9. USAID and Foreign Aid: By sector, USAID devotes the most spending to Emergency Response, HIV/AIDS and Operating Expenses. Since 1986, USAID’s HIV/AIDS program has been at the forefront of the global AIDS crisis. As a key implementer of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), more than 13.3 million people are on life-saving antiretroviral treatment; 85.5 million people receive HIV testing and counseling, including more than 11.2 million pregnant women; 6.4 million orphans and vulnerable children receive care and support; and more than 250,000 health care workers have received training to deliver HIV and other health services.
  10. USAID Spending: By country, USAID spent the most ODA on Jordan ($815 million), followed by Ethiopia and Afghanistan. USAID devoted $519 million of this ODA to Government and Civil Society. Its development strategy focuses on programs in education, water, economic development and energy, democracy, rights and governance, health, gender equality, female empowerment and addressing challenges resulting from the influx of refugees.

These 10 facts about foreign assistance illustrate the international history of investing in other countries’ welfare as an extensive and time tested practice. Without ODA and other avenues of foreign investment, the global economy would likely be a less robust and democratic market. Foreign assistance is not simply charity, but a viable avenue for sustainable global development and international diplomacy. For these reasons, the Borgen Project advocates for the acknowledgment and expansion of USAID for the sake of the world’s future prosperity.

– Adam Weaver
Photo: Flickr

Quotes On Poverty

There are many quotes on poverty from world leaders that make it clear what their stance is. American leaders are no different; they too have things to say about poverty. These former presidents understood the roots and the long-term effects of poverty on human beings. Below is a list of seven quotes on poverty with some background information on the former American presidents.

Seven Quotes On Poverty From Former U.S. Presidents

  1. John F. Kennedy: Kennedy served in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives until he became the 35th U.S. president in 1961. Some of his top achievements include the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the Alliance for Progress. It was also Kennedy’s administration that established the Peace Corps by executive order in 1961, thanks to the increasing activism that was spreading among the West. The idea behind the Peace Corps was to find volunteers who would be willing to work on improving the social and economic conditions across the globe in order to promote modernization and development. Kennedy was quoted saying, “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. [Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961]”
  2. Bill Clinton: William Jefferson Clinton enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. His two terms as President were correlated with economic prosperity from 1992 to 1998. Clinton’s vision in terms of foreign policy was intertwined with globalization as he believed that domestic events can be sharply affected by foreign events. He was quoted saying, “It turns out that advancing equal opportunity and economic empowerment is both morally right and good economics, because discrimination, poverty and ignorance restrict growth, while investments in education, infrastructure and scientific and technological research increase it, creating more good jobs and new wealth for all of us.”
  3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to be president four times even though he was known at Harvard to be an ‘unimpressive C student.’ He led the United States both during the Great War and World War II. He established reforms in the powers of the federal government through the New Deal, including the CCC, the WPA, the TVA etc. In the earlier period of his presidency, he led the “Good Neighbor” policy for Latin America and other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Roosevelt was quoted saying, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
  4. Dwight D. Eisenhower: Dwight D. Eisenhower was first appointed as U.S. Army chief of staff in 1945. In 1951, he became the first Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The following year, he was elected President. Eisenhower served two terms before retiring in 1961. The policy of containment became popular under the Eisenhower administration through the introduction of bilateral and multilateral treaties, including the CENTO and the SEATO. Eisenhower was quoted saying, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
  5. Lyndon B. Johnson: Lyndon B. Johnson initially served as vice president under John F. Kennedy in 1960. After Kennedy’s death in 1962, he became the 36th president himself. Johnson was widely acknowledged for his ‘Great Society’ social service programs, the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. Johnson was quoted saying, “The hungry world cannot be fed until and unless the growth of its resources and the growth of its population come into balance. Each man and woman – and each nation – must make decisions of conscience and policy in the face of this great problem.”
  6. George W. Bush: George W. Bush served as the 43rd President in the United States. He is remembered as the leader of the country during the 9/11 attacks in 2001. He was involved in the policy of the fight against HIV/AIDS where he proposed a $15 billion initiative known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This initiative led to an increase from 50,000 to 3 million Africans receiving AIDS medication. Bush was quoted saying, “Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do. And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side. America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected.”
  7. Barack Obama: Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president and the first African-American president of the United States. Before being elected president, Obama served in the U.S. Senate in the state of Illinois. Obama’s main stance on foreign policy was restraint. He tried his best to limit large-scale military operations and maximize diplomatic cooperation. He shared the burdens and responsibilities of international leadership with leaders from other countries. Obama was quoted saying, “As the wealthiest nation on Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and to partner with others.”

It is important to highlight these seven quotes on poverty from our leaders to remind us how national and global poverty can affect everyone’s daily lives. This effect can come through in the forms of policies or everyday interactions.

Nergis Sefer
Photo: Flickr

QANDIL's Humanitarian Efforts
Sweden’s renown as a humanitarian superpower stems from its involvement in global aid initiatives. In 2018, the country devoted 1.04 percent of its gross national income (GNI) to overseas development, making Sweden the sixth-largest humanitarian aid contributor among the world’s countries and the largest one proportional to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). From 1975 onward, Sweden’s humanitarian aid efforts have continually surpassed the U.N.’s minimum target of developed nations spending 0.7 percent of GNI on overseas development initiatives.

One of the most well-regarded Sweden-based NGOs is QANDIL. Established in Stockholm in 1991, QANDIL’s initiatives aim to foster lasting peace and development in Iraq. Beneficiaries of its aid range from refugees and returnees to internally displaced persons and local host communities. Since 2016, QANDIL has concentrated its efforts on development in the Kurdistan region, serving as the most prominent partner of UNHCR in this region. Below are seven facts about QANDIL’s humanitarian efforts.

7 Facts About QANDIL’s Humanitarian Efforts

  1. Economic Assistance — Two Cash-Based Intervention projects implemented in 2017 raised $2,695,280 for 3,829 families in need in the Kurdistan region’s Duhok governorate. In Erbil, QANDIL distributed $3,155,800 to 3,054 families in the Erbil governorate, while $648,290 went to 1,900 families in the Sulaymaniyah governorate. Ultimately, QANDIL distributed $6,499,370 to 8,783 refugees and IDP families within three of the Kurdistan region’s governorates. This provides a foundation by which these uprooted people may become economically stable and productive.
  2. Shelter — Through the Shelter Activities Project, QANDIL supported uprooted people in search of shelter, which included 7,246 families. Among QANDIL’s successes in providing shelter-based aid is the implementation of 25 major shelter rehabilitation initiatives, encompassing five camps in the Sulaymaniyah governorate. This helped resolve the long-term problem of incomplete and hazardous structures allotted to displaced persons.
  3. Legal Services — The Outreach Project, operating in the Erbil and Duhok governorates, offers legal services to IDPs and refugees. With the participation of volunteers from both the displaced and host communities, QANDIL’s efforts have granted legal assistance to 319,773 IDPs and refugees and outreach services to 19,894 persons in the Erbil governorate alone. In the Duhok governorate, beneficiaries included 69,093 refugees and IDPs. Furthermore, in 2017, QANDIL participated in an initiative to provide mobile magistrates to administer court-related matters for displaced persons.
  4. Assistance for Gender-Based Violence Victims — With the participation of UNFPA, QANDIL commits resources to finance and submitting reports to seven local NGOs that operate 21 women’s social centers. These centers function in both responsive and preventative capacities for women both within and outside camps. Services that these centers offer include listening, counseling, referrals to other institutions, distribution of hygiene kits and even recreational activities. In total, this program has assisted 67,108 women and girls in the Duhok governorate, 11,021 in the Erbil governorate and 43,797 in the Sulaymaniyah governorate.
  5. Youth Education — Starting in 2017, QANDIL devised an educational initiative targeting Syrian refugee students, funded at approximately $271,197. The soft component of this initiative provided funding and resources for recreational activities and catch-up classes, as well as teacher capacity building training and the maintenance of parent-teacher associations, in schools enrolling refugee students in the Sulaymaniyah governorate. The initiative’s hard component comprises aid for special needs students at seven refugee schools in the Sulaymaniyah governorate.
  6. Skills Training — In collaboration with the German development aid organization GIZ, QANDIL embarked on a vocational and educational initiative aiming to benefit displaced persons residing at Debanga camp. These individuals received access to skills training and qualifications certification, ranging from plumbing and electricity to language and art, in three-week courses offering free tuition. As a whole in 2017, the vocational and educational training centers that QANDIL supported with funding from GIZ have improved the employment prospects for 1,756 individuals, out of which 546 were women.
  7. Immediate Response in Crisis Situations — With an upsurge in regional conflict on Oct. 16, 2017, came an increase in IDPs in Tuz Khurmatu, a city 88 kilometers south of Kirkuk. This event tested the efficacy and efficiency of QANDIL’s humanitarian aid efforts. By Oct. 24, QANDIL’s Emergency Response Committee began dispensing out emergency kits to persons that the conflict escalation affected. Included in these packages were necessities, food and non-food items alike. By Oct. 25, QANDIL parceled out 1,237 emergency kits to aid-seekers distributed over 25 locations in the Sulaymaniyah and Garmian regions. That same day, 600 aid-seekers received aid packages in the Erbil and Koya regions, while the rest of the aid made its way to other camps in the Sulaymaniyah area.

From education to vocational training to sanitation and hygiene and shelter and legal services, QANDIL’s humanitarian efforts in the Kurdistan region of Iraq continue to make a difference for the lives of thousands of displaced and settled people alike. Thus, QANDIL serves as an ambassador for Sweden’s humanitarian aid mission. Whether in the course of sustained initiatives or responses to imminent crises, QANDIL persists in its constructive humanitarian aid role in an unstable region. It is through the tireless efforts of such NGOs as QANDIL that Sweden continues to serve as a model in humanitarian aid initiatives to the rest of the world.

Philip Daniel Glass
Photo: Flickr

The Marshall Plan
In 1947, Europe was still feeling World War II’s devastation. Rebuilding was not going as fast as necessary and people of every country were feeling the impacts. Economies had nearly come to a complete halt in most countries and there were up to 11 million refugees that needed to find jobs, homes and food. The United States was the only superpower in the world that could offer any assistance to the people of Europe because the war did not entirely influence its industries. The reason for the implementation of the Marshall Plan was to help people rebuild their homes and industries, as well as provide security and an economic boost to the U.S.

The Marshall Plan’s Origins

The Marshall Plan, formerly called the European Recovery Program, was an initiative proposed by the United States Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, in 1947. The plan aimed to accomplish several things. First, it was to provide aid to kickstart European countries whose economies the war destroyed. The second was to promote free trade that would not only benefit those countries but the United States as well. The third was to contain the spread of communism that was sweeping over Eastern Europe.

The Marshall plan gave aid to 15 countries; the United Kingdom, West Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal and Norway. President Harry Truman signed the plan into law on April 3, 1948; it brought aid to Europe in the form of machinery, fuel, food and money.

Aid for the Netherlands

World War II hit the Netherlands hard when the German forces occupied the country from 1940-1945. The war heavily damaged its infrastructure, agriculture and housing and they were in desperate need of repair. To rebuild its infrastructure, The Marshall Plan gave half a million dollars to the cement industry to repair roads, bridges and ports. The port in Rotterdam was particularly important because the country uses it to import goods. The Plan provided more funds to build housing for 9.5 million people living in the Netherlands. Fixing the agriculture of the Netherlands required the country to modernize its practices. It spent funds on new farming equipment and the treatment and repairing of the soil destroyed by years of fighting. In total, the Netherlands received $1.127 billion to rebuild its country.

Aid for Germany

Germany split in two shortly after World War II ended. The Soviet Union controlled East Germany while the United States and its allies controlled West Germany. West Germany received $1.4 billion in Marshall Plan aid although the war heavily impacted it. The whole of Germany had an aggressive bombing campaign to destroy its cities and invading armies from the west and east devastated the country’s communities. Twelve percent of the aid to West Germany went towards housing the nearly eight million refugees that had settled there after the war. These houses were necessary with a population of 67.9 million. Coal was another industry that was in desperate need; 40 percent of funding went towards this so that Germany could fuel its industries and factories. The funds from the Marshall Plan helped the German people find homes, jobs and food.

Aid for the UK

German bombings on British industrial sites had a terrible impact on the production of British goods, particularly on its southern cities. By 1948, the United Kingdom had mostly recovered from the war, but it needed to address more. While the U.K. was able to rebuild, the country was deep in debt and was having a challenging time feeding its people and keeping its industries going. Because of its 1948 population of 50 million people and its contribution to the war effort, the U.K. received the largest sum from the Marshall Plan, $3.2 billion. These funds provided the country with financial stability and allowed it to balance out its economy. While the aid did not go towards helping the U.K.’s economy, it benefited from the food and fuel brought in and the breathing room necessary to stabilize its country.

In total, the United States spent over $13 billion in aid for the 15 countries. These countries were able to provide food, fuel, housing and stability for their people during a devastating time thanks to the Marshall Plan. The average GDP of the nations that received aid increased from their prewar levels by 35 percent, and overall industrial production rose by 40 percent. The U.S. was also a beneficiary of the economic success of the European nations engaging in trade. In the decade following the end of the Marshall Plan in 1951, the GDP of the United States had nearly doubled. The Marshall Plan shows the benefits of providing foreign aid that can help not only those receiving but those giving as well.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

The International Commitment for Foreign Aid SpendingCurrently, there is an international commitment among developed countries to spend 0.7 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI) on foreign aid. The goal for this aid is to assist the world’s poorest countries in developing sustainably. However, the majority of the richest countries in the world have not met this commitment. In fact, the United States ranked last in 2018 (27th) on the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) after only spending 0.18 percent on foreign aid. While the U.S. is reducing foreign aid spending, four countries are choosing to invest even more into developing countries than international commitment. They are doing so not only for humanitarian reasons but for strategic reasons as well.

Here are the four countries exceeding the international commitment for foreign aid spending.

4 Countries Exceeding the Commitment for Foreign Aid Spending

  1. Denmark – In 2018, Denmark allocated 0.72 percent of its GNI to foreign aid. The majority of this amount took the form of bilateral aid, which means Denmark provided aid directly to foreign governments rather than international organizations. With its commitment to foreign aid spending, the country seeks to enhance its soft power and to reduce immigration to Denmark. Development Minister of Denmark Ulla Tørnæs stated, “Through our development work, we create better living conditions, growth and jobs in some of the world’s poorest countries and thereby help prevent migration.”
  2. Norway – Norway spent 1 percent of its GNI on foreign aid in 2018. Although the country directed a higher percentage of its GNI to foreign aid than Denmark, Norway’s quality of foreign aid is not as strong. According to the Center for Global Development, the country’s aid score has declined due to struggles in the transparency and learning categories. According to Børge Brende, the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, foreign aid spending enhances Norway’s soft power and national security interests. Additionally, the promotion of business development in foreign countries “is a good example of how aid can be used as a catalyst to mobilize other, larger flows of capital.”
  3. Luxemburg – Luxemburg spent 1 percent of its GNI on foreign aid in 2018. Luxemburg’s aid score is quite high, ranking fifth out of 27 among CDI countries. As explained by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), efficient bilateral foreign aid spending “enables Luxembourg to maximize its visibility, impact and international influence.” Currently, Luxemburg focuses its foreign aid spending in sub-Saharan Africa due to its particularly high rates of poverty.
  4. Sweden – At 1.01 percent, Sweden ranks first amongst developed nations for the highest percent of GNI directed towards foreign aid. Foreign aid has become a primary focus for Sweden due to the high influx of immigrants Sweden has taken in within the past few years. Like Denmark, Sweden sees foreign aid as an opportunity to reduce the inflow of immigrants by improving the economic conditions and overall wellbeing of developing countries. This high level of foreign aid spending is one of the main reasons why Sweden ranked eighth in the world in terms of soft power in 2018. In that sense, foreign aid spending is a long-term investment for Sweden because it helps Sweden manage immigration flow, build up the global economy and increase its influence on foreign countries. Since Sweden views foreign aid as an investment, the country heavily focuses on learning about the effectiveness of its foreign aid spending in order to maximize results.

Denmark, Norway, Luxemburg and Sweden all demonstrate that foreign aid spending is in the national interest of developed nations. Since these countries do not perceive foreign aid spending as a mere charity, they have become more incentivized than most other developed countries to provide high-quality aid.

– Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr