Information and stories on foreign aid.

The International Aid Transparency Initiative
The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is a global coalition dedicated to improving the transparency of humanitarian and developmental programs and their effect on the areas receiving aid. The International Aid Transparency Initiative holds programs to its standardized expectations, working with the likes of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and others. The UNDP is dedicated to advocating for global development by giving countries the proper resources, understanding and familiarity with those resources that are designed to help those in need of help to maximize help and impact.

The Use of Provided Data

Published data allow for fund transparency. This enables easy tracking of fund functions, location and impact. The data initiative allows for more informed decisions by donors, NGOs and governments toward countries or areas that are developing or in desperate need of aid. The transparency allowed by the data creates a place for politicians, journalists and the public to fully understand where their donations will be going.

The organization providing data determines how much they wish to share. If someone reading over the data realizes an inconsistency or error, they can reach out to the organization’s publisher to rectify an error.

The IATI’s Work

The International Aid Transparency Initiative has been a leader in transparency standards since it began in 2008 and ore than a decade later, its efforts continue. The IATI’s standards aim to better keep track of where aid goes, how much foreign aid is going to different countries and for what purpose. A leading member of the IATI is Transparency International, a current member of the International NGO Accountability Charter. This Charter strictly outlines guidelines regarding transparency.

With around 900 organizations from about 50 countries working alongside the International Aid Transparency Initiative, group efforts benefit the fight against global poverty. With access to a large amount of data and information, the public has widespread access to make a better-informed donation to specific organizations. Since global poverty is such a large problem for many people around the world, being able to see where funds go and who is directly benefiting from the aid is a useful ability to have. Many of the organizations and countries that work alongside the IATI are members of the initiative or use the data standard for their own uses.

The International Aid Transparency Initiative stands as a force for knowledge and education to help better show people how organizations and countries allocate aid. The information and data available through this initiative allows for more education toward the fight against global poverty. It is an invaluable tool to decipher how much aid an area is receiving and how much more it may need, as well as which areas are in more desperate need of funding. The knowledge that the IATI provides should l in turn allow donors to see potentially underlooked areas.

– Jake Herbetko
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Foreign Aid During COVID-19The year 2020’s sudden outbreak of COVID-19 caught many countries off guard. The U.S. is demonstrating its status as a global superpower by releasing economic, medical and other foreign aid during COVID-19.

5 Facts About US Foreign Aid During COVID-19

  1. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has given more than $1.5 billion to different governments and organizations during the pandemic. The government split the money among various humanitarian, developmental and economic programs and organizations. The aid aims to help sustain governments at risk during the pandemic. It also intends to make the public more aware of COVID-19 and how to combat it. Additionally, the aid from the U.S. will go toward improving health education and hospitals, funding quick response teams capable of inhibiting COVID-19’s spread. The U.S. Government has also planned a $4 billion relief fund to aid high-risk countries through COVAX, a program that provides vaccines to low-income countries.
  2. The U.S. State Department works alongside other organizations. USAID and the CDC help the U.S. Government provide the necessary aid to countries at high risk. Congress created an emergency fund of $2.4 billion with the purpose of supporting both humanitarian programs and security and stabilization programs for countries in need. For example, foreign aid helps countries create safe and secure ways for citizens to receive necessary medical care during the pandemic.
  3. The U.S. gave the most foreign aid in 2020. In 2020, the U.S. gave around $35 billion in aid, with Germany close behind at just shy of $30 billion. The global amount of money that has gone toward COVID-19 relief measures is equal to about $16 trillion. U.S. foreign aid during COVID-19 is only around 1% of that. The majority of foreign aid during COVID-19 went toward short-term solutions, such as the aforementioned public health education programs and hospital care programs.
  4. U.S. foreign aid programs help combat more than just COVID-19. Recently, the House of Representatives passed an $11 billion bill to support countries in need, including through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
  5. The U.S. has approved $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 aid. Of that $1.9 trillion, the U.S. has dedicated $11 billion to fight the global pandemic. That $11 billion includes $800 million for aid programs from the U.S. Agency for International Development as well as the CDC Global Fund. The remaining $10 billion will support global health, humanitarian aid and economic aid.

To conclude, the U.S. has provided more aid than any other nation to help countries combat the COVID-19 pandemic. This has allowed many at-risk countries to minimize or at least lessen the impact of the disease.

Jake Herbetko
Photo: Flickr

World-leading Foreign Aid
The world-leading foreign aid of Luxembourg has been noteworthy. Here is an investigation into it involving case studies, motivational theories and theories of wealth redistribution to explore (a) how Luxembourg developed its foreign aid program and (b) how these results may be replicable in other developed nations.

Analysis of Morality

While a nation’s moral values may seem like a logical starting point to understand why countries give foreign aid, the reality is more complex. In 2020, the Latin America Travel Company (LATC) developed the Travel Morality Index to assess “the ethicality and morality of a destination.” While Luxembourg was not included in its analysis, the LATC provided its methodology to assess a country’s morality.

The index uses a combination of five scoring factors, which literature has shown are the prime indicators of an ethical society: human rights, animal welfare, gender equality, workers’ rights and the state of peace. Luxembourg was included in global rankings for three of these five domains (the Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index and the Institute for Economics & Peace’s Global Peace Index omitted the nation from their rankings).

Luxembourg ranks 11th in the Cato Institute’s Human Freedom Index (HFI), tied with Finland and Japan. Of all 12 nations that are either behind or tied with it, Sweden is the only country that also defeats Luxembourg in foreign aid.

Turning now to gender equality, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ranks Luxembourg 23rd among 189 countries included in the Gender Inequality Index. In this case, nine of the 11 nations ahead of Luxembourg in the Gender Inequality Index provide less generous foreign aid. Finally, examining workers’ rights, Luxembourg ranks 14th in the Labour Rights Index, with 12 of its 13 superiors allocating less money towards foreign aid. Across these metrics, there are close to a dozen countries ranked as more ethical than Luxembourg but which give less to foreign aid.

Why Do Nations Give?

An emerging theory in the field of moral responsibility called Motivational Egoism argues that individuals have the motivation to do moral acts because it serves their self-interest. This theory holds for everything including one holding a door open for someone because they know that helping them will them feel good, to devoting one’s life to the betterment of society because of the praise and compensation that they expect to receive. As it pertains to generous foreign aid, this view argues that nations donate to foreign aid because it is beneficial to their self-interest, for example, by benefiting their economies.

Professor Idema and Professor Rueda at the University of Oxford argue that individuals support the redistribution of currency based on how it impacts their expected lifetime income. Decades before, Professor Plotnick (University of Washington) and Professor Winters (Dartmouth) expressed a similar view. They argued that citizens support larger government-led redistribution initiatives because of the way it will benefit them both directly (state of mind) and indirectly (how reducing poverty betters society). The question, then, is how does Luxembourg’s world-leading foreign aid support the nation’s self-interest?

Luxembourg’s Benefit

Fighting global poverty yields countless global benefits. Aside from a humanitarian justification, aiding the global poor also helps the most developed nations in multiple ways. First, it bolsters national security. Testifying to Congress in 2017, Admiral Mike Mullen and General James Jones argued that sheer military might is not enough to “prevent radicalization.” Instead, foreign aid is necessary to maintain national security because many threats stem from poverty and government corruption (both of which Luxembourg’s foreign aid projects address).

Second, it increases productivity and innovation. A Department for International Development report found that economic growth concerning poverty reduction sparks innovation aimed at an increased quality of life. Lastly, foreign aid benefits the job market by increasing consumers. According to Ricardo Michel of USAID, restricting consumers to the richest third of the world limits global revenue. By supporting those lower two-thirds, millions–if not billions–attain the resources necessary to join the global market, create more demand and in turn create more jobs.

Now, the three benefits just mentioned are all global benefits of foreign aid. They are largely independent of the giver of foreign aid, benefitting all developed nations. However, a primary benefit of being the nation to provide foreign aid–rather than just reaping the benefits of the aid of other wealthy nations–is that supporting developing countries builds trade. Essentially, foreign aid is an investment.

Researchers in Copenhagen discovered that aid towards “complementary [capital] inputs” increases direct investment. Coincidentally, Luxembourg has been working to “attract foreign direct investment” since 2002. Luxembourg’s economy revolves primarily around investment, and foreign aid receives treatment as such because of the ways it benefits national security, innovation and the job market and how it produces direct investment in the nation.

Takeaways About Luxembourg’s World-Leading Foreign Aid

Theories in philosophy and political science both suggested promoting self-interest as a reason for providing foreign aid, and Luxembourg’s investment-based economy has certainly benefited from it. Now, it is time to revisit the question that launched this investigation: what takeaways come from Luxembourg’s success?

Luxembourg’s foreign aid spending provides a concrete model for how other developed nations can develop unilateral support for international aid. By framing aid as a way to promote a nation’s security and economy, legislation aimed at poverty reduction could gain bipartisan (or poly-partisan) traction and countries could finally begin competing over their contributions to alleviating global poverty.

Sam Konstan
Photo: Flickr

Connecticut SenatorsConnecticut Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have long been advocates for aid-based foreign policy. Frequently, they try to increase the presence of the United States on the global stage. As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Murphy has a clear vision of progressive U.S. foreign policy, while Blumenthal has a similar vision of foreign involvement and humanitarian assistance.

5 Ways Connecticut Senators Fight for Foreign Aid

  1. Increasing the International Affairs Budget: In March 2021, Murphy, among other senators, proposed a $12 billion increase to the U.S. International Affairs Budget. Protecting the International Affairs Budget is unquestionably essential to mitigating global poverty. As of 2021, however, foreign aid constitutes less than 1% of the U.S. budget. As one of the most powerful countries in the world, the U.S. has the capacity to increase aid exponentially. Through this proposal, called “Investing in 21st Century Diplomacy,” Murphy has shown a strong commitment toward maintaining diplomatic ties and providing aid to other countries.
  2. Requesting Funding for Refugee Programs: In March 2018, Blumenthal, with 24 other senators, wrote a letter to Senate appropriators calling for complete funding for particular refugee programs. Amid a time when the International Affairs Budget was in danger of reducing, Blumenthal led a letter advocating for refugee programs. In this proposal, Blumenthal recognized the national security benefits of increased foreign aid as well as the commitment of the U.S. to provide aid. Primarily, the letter responded to the Trump administration’s proposed elimination of the ERMA account, a source of funding for unforeseen humanitarian crises.
  3. Introducing the Global Health Security Act: Murphy, along with Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced the Global Health Security Act in April 2020, a bill that focuses on implementing the Global Health Security Agenda by appointing two different entities: The United States Coordinator for Global Health Security and the Global Health Security Interagency Review Council. The Global Health Security Act focuses on preventing infectious diseases across the globe. Its central goal is to achieve the Global Health Security Agenda, a 2014 initiative similarly targeted toward stemming infectious diseases.
  4. Recognizing COVID-19 in India: In May 2021, Blumenthal recognized the severe COVID-19 crisis in India and the need for immediate foreign aid. While at an event in Middletown, Connecticut, Blumenthal advocated the need for various medical supplies to go to India. While visiting a local Hindu temple, Blumenthal spoke about the issue and the need for immediate U.S. action.
  5. Advocating for Humanitarian Assistance: Murphy furthermore advocates for humanitarian assistance to fight hunger and poverty, two issues that impact extremism. As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Murphy has recently advocated for humanitarian aid in Yemen, a country struggling with famine and poverty. In May 2021, Murphy, with three other senators, wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The letter thanked him for his recent involvement in fighting the crisis in Yemen and urged the Biden administration to take a more active role in encouraging other countries to do the same thing.

Committing to a Progressive Foreign Policy

Actively solving issues like hunger and infectious diseases tie directly into fighting global hunger. Hence, Connecticut Senators Murphy and Blumenthal remain committed to a progressive foreign policy. They have shown their commitment through public statements, letters to other senators and legislation like the Global Health Security Act. Ultimately, the Connecticut Senators want the U.S. to be an active member of a global community. The country would, accordingly, use its power to alleviate global inequalities and stem poverty.

– Samuel Weinmann
Photo: Flickr

airlifts from USAIDNepal is a small country in Asia that encompasses most of the Himalayan mountains. In May 2021, Nepal experienced an uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 and Nepal’s government could not contain cases without foreign assistance. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) responded to this need by sending airlifts of personal protective equipment and oxygen to help fight COVID-19. Airlifts from USAID have served to limit the poverty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. With such support, it is possible to keep COVID-19 cases manageable while reducing poverty at the same time.

COVID-19 in Nepal

Nepal became the world’s fastest-growing hotspot for COVID-19 infections in May 2021. At the time, the country reported more than 513,000 cases and 6,300 deaths in a population of 29 million. Due to the rapid rate of infection, Nepal’s healthcare system was unable to accommodate such high numbers.

Vaccine accessibility was another issue for Nepal as only 7.3% of the population had received one dose of the vaccine as of May 25, 2021. With India bordered by Nepal, the vaccine shortage in India posed a major problem for Nepali citizens. In part, this was due to India’s government blocking vaccine exports as India needed to preserve its supply for Indian citizens. To solve this problem, foreign assistance was needed.

The dire situation in Nepal has severely hurt the economic welfare of its citizens. Recovery from COVID-19 in Nepal not only requires control of the infection rate but also economic support for the most affected citizens. Migrant workers who travel to India for work have accounted for a significant portion of the rise in cases.

Therefore, the COVID-19 surge in both India and Nepal has eliminated the primary source of income for many Nepali families. Nepal’s economy also suffers from a halted tourism industry, which previously generated a significant amount of revenue from the Himalayan mountains. Without the success of these crucial industries, Nepali families are at greater risk of sliding deeper into poverty.

Airlifts From USAID

USAID has had a long-standing relationship with Nepal. Over the last two decades, the organization has allotted $600 million in funding Nepal’s healthcare sector. To aid the currently overwhelmed medical system in Nepal, USAID responded by scheduling three airlifts to bring in medical supplies for healthcare workers. These airlifts are part of a recent $15 million aid package to the government of Nepal.

By May 2021, Nepal had received $50 million worth of COVID-19 assistance from USAID. The government estimates that this support has positively impacted 60% of Nepal’s population. Due to USAID’s COVID-19 support, Nepal has been able to perform nationwide COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. Furthermore, the country has been able to treat COVID-19 patients more adequately.

In addition to medical supplies donated by USAID, the U.S. government has committed to sharing vaccine doses with Nepal. The U.S. government’s strategy for distributing vaccines includes a combination of direct donations and distribution through international organizations. U.S. ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry, confirmed in early June 2021 that the U.S. will directly donate a portion of seven million vaccines to Nepal. The donation is part of an effort to assist Asia by distributing doses among 17 Asian nations.

The Effectiveness of Airlifts

COVID-19 has had a physical, mental and economic impact on Nepali citizens. Many Nepali citizens travel to India for work, but with travel restrictions in place, the people of Nepal face more instances of poverty. USAID has provided immense support for Nepal throughout the pandemic, especially during the resurgence of cases. Combined with a plan to distribute more vaccines to the country, foreign aid has played a significant role in helping Nepal fight COVID-19.

– Viola Chow
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid to Côte d'Ivoire
An unlikely form of foreign aid to Côte d’Ivoire is on the rise: donated sports stadiums from China. However, these gifts do not come free.

Côte d’Ivoire’s Olympic-Sized Gift From China

In an act of foreign aid to Côte d’Ivoire, China gifted a massive 130 million euro stadium in Ebimpé. Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara boasts an impressive 60,000 person capacity. It is the biggest stadium in Côte d’Ivoire and the ninth-largest in all of Africa. The new Olympic level venue will host the African Cup of Nations finals in 2023, a major soccer tournament.

Stadium Diplomacy

For decades, China donated massive new sports stadiums to numerous African countries in an act of goodwill and self-interest. Stadium diplomacy, the term for this new political strategy, offers China and the other country a unique deal. The receiving nation sees a boost to its economy through the revenue these stadiums generate. Additionally, China gets numerous benefits in return.

In the last 50 years, China constructed more than 100 sports stadiums all over the continent of Africa. This guaranteed itself access to natural resources, privileged trading contracts, strengthened relations, access to political leaders and supporters in the United Nations. China is now the biggest trading partner of all of Africa. Stadium diplomacy falls under the category of soft power, a type of diplomacy that uses attraction, negotiation and cooperation rather than force.

How Can Stadiums Fight Poverty?

While Côte d’Ivoire boasts one of West Africa’s most robust economies, 39.4% of its population still lives in poverty. Furthermore, the economy experienced a recent downturn since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The services and manufacturing sectors, both involved in constructing and running a stadium, are among those people expected to bring the nation’s economy back on track.

The stadium will bring an influx of people and infrastructure to the region. It will also bolster the economy, fueling the service and manufacturing sectors and provide jobs, all as a result of foreign aid to Côte d’Ivoire. Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara will also help develop the nearby Anyama region, which is building its first metro line in preparation for the crowd.

Criticism of the Stadiums

However, stadium diplomacy has its critics, with many Africans desiring more direct help. While Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara praised the stadium as “one of the most beautiful things our country has accomplished in the field of sports,” other nations have expressed concern and even anger.

Gabon, a nation that lies along the western coast of Central Africa, faced a major backlash among its citizens for participating in stadium diplomacy. Engong Stadium, located in Oyem, had a quick and dramatic turnaround from construction to abandonment. The lavish complex sports has three basketball courts, a tennis court and an international standard track-and-field. However, it is now empty and unused. Locals were angry about what they saw as a misuse of resources and money. “We cannot eat your stadiums” they chanted, adorned in combat uniforms. At the same time, groups stormed the overgrown field and burned down the presidential box.

Whether Côte d’Ivoire’s new stadium will turn its economy around will become more clear in the future. However, one thing is certain: stadium diplomacy in Côte d’Ivoire offers an extremely innovative and very plausible way to alleviate regional poverty.

– Caroline Bersch
Photo: Unsplash

Vatican Pontifical CouncilEvery other year, the Vatican Pontifical Council is held in Vatican City for the purpose of improving human health and well-being. From May 6-8, 2021, the Cura Foundation and the Science and Faith Foundation joined the Pope, influential scientists, Christian leaders, humanitarians, ethicists and lawmakers to discuss recent advances in technology and medical science that will make for a better world.

The Cura Foundation and the Science and Faith Foundation seek to improve global health by partnering with doctors and researchers who are nearing medical breakthroughs. At this year’s Vatican Pontifical Council, they and other foundations took center stage. The Cura Foundation’s mottos, “unite to prevent,” and “unite to cure,” described the purpose of the discussions. Here are five promising developments from the Council.

Top 5 Highlights of the Vatican Pontifical Council

  1. The solution to global health spending according to Dr. Mark McClellan, director of Duke University’s Robert J. Margolis Center for Health Policy. Recalling the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. McClellan explained why the U.S. and other wealthy countries need to increase their spending on aid for developing countries. He explained that meeting countries on their level will mean considering digital care, care teams, medicine availability and more. In addition, prioritizing healthcare equality will not just benefit developing countries, but wealthy countries as well. The U.S. will see minorities such as Black and Native people, who statistically earn less money than whites, gain more equality. Focusing on health equality for the world will lead to more open-minded communities and better quality of life for minorities.
  2. Pope Francis explains the union of mind, body, and soul. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the union of the mind, body and soul is essential. Many factors can cause division between them, but unity encourages intellect and progress. Interdisciplinary research that works toward uniting mind, body and soul is the reason various leaders and initiators have been able to improve global health as they have.
  3. Sanford Health shares its findings on regenerative medicine. Many retired athletes and elderly people experience chronic joint pain that seems untreatable. However, Sanford Health explained that regenerative medicine can be useful in combating chronic pain. Regenerative medicine helps to speed the healing process and can especially aid practitioners in orthopedics. If regenerative medicine is integrated into care more widely, the physical quality of life will improve greatly for many people worldwide.
  4. Rick Anderson advocates for digital technologies. According to the president of DarioHealth, Rick Anderson, digital technologies are particularly beneficial for those with chronic diseases since they offer a wide variety of treatment options. For example, people with diabetes can use digital devices to test their blood sugar. Getting these devices to people who need them worldwide is a challenge, however. Anderson says the aid needed most in this scenario is internet access. Even low-speed internet can let people order what they need.
  5. New treatments for rare diseases. Dr. Michael Yeaman of UCLA has been studying neuromyelitis optica (NMO), a rare disease that disrupts proteins in the eyes and spinal cord and can lead to mobility loss. Different people can have widely different manifestations of NMO. Dr. Yeaman focuses on personalized medication to meet each patient’s needs. Dr. Jill Weimer, a senior director for Sanford Research, also discussed changing patients’ gene mutations as a cure for disease. While this possibility needs more research, it shows much promise.

The innovations in health and technology discussed at the fifth Vatican Pontifical Council will help minimize not only disease but also poverty. Worldwide improvements in health lead to fewer preventable deaths, more stabilized economies and more people finding jobs. Though this was the fifth Vatican Pontifical Council, it was the first virtual one, demonstrating that the Council is adapting to the pandemic and continuing to make a difference.

– Selena Soto
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

USAID programs in GuineaAccording to the World Bank, 35% of people in Guinea lived below the international poverty line in 2012, meaning they subsisted on less than $1.90 a day. Around 55% of Guineans lived below the country’s national poverty line in the same year. The U.S. began providing aid to Guinea through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shortly after the agency’s creation in the early 1960s. The relationship between USAID and the Guinean government has remained strong and a number of aid programs continue today. USAID programs in Guinea provide a diverse set of services in various economic and social sectors.

Feed the Future Guinea Agricultural Services Project

Agriculture is the backbone of the Guinean economy. According to the World Bank, the agricultural sector employs 52% of workers in Guinea and farming is the main income of 57% of rural households. Hence, improving agricultural output and profits is key to reducing poverty and hunger in Guinea, particularly for the rural population.

USAID started the Feed the Future Guinea Agricultural Services project in 2016 and still runs it in 2021. Feed the Future is a U.S. government program dedicated to eliminating global hunger and food insecurity, with efforts in a number of countries around the globe. Guinea’s Feed the Future program partners with local farmers and organizations, such as the Federation of Fruit Planters of Lower Guinea, which has more than 1,000 members.

USAID also brings in students from the Apprenticeship in Extension, Entrepreneurship and Rural Innovation (AVENIR) program, an initiative created to provide 640 unemployed Guinean college graduates with skills to start up their own agricultural businesses. These AVENIR agents then pass on their knowledge on sustainable farming and good entrepreneurship to Guinean farmers.

The results of the Feed the Future program are impressive, increasing certain crop yields by five, 10 or even 500 tons a year. AVENIR agents bring in technology such as irrigation pumps and solar dryers to increase productivity and decrease harvest waste. Farmers trained by USAID’s AVENIR agents have negotiated for better prices, boosting their profits, and in turn, helping them to rise out of poverty.

Malaria Control and Other Health Programs

Many USAID programs in Guinea work in the health sector, especially in disease control. Malaria, in particular, poses a massive threat to public health, accounting for 14% of deaths among Guinean children younger than 5. Alongside the National Malaria Control Program, USAID works to strengthen the healthcare system and identify new methods of treating malaria. USAID also invests in malaria prevention methods such as insecticide-infused mosquito nets.

Data from the World Bank shows that the malaria-fighting efforts of USAID and others have made a difference in Guinea. The number of average cases of malaria per 1,000 people has decreased from nearly 430 in 2012 to around 280 in 2018. This essentially means that, on average, people in Guinea became 15% less likely to contract malaria.

USAID programs in Guinea also help the country fight the spread of other dangerous outbreaks such as Ebola and COVID-19. The Global Health Supply Chain — Procurement and Supply Management program (GHSC-PSM) helps manufacture and distribute valuable health supplies such as disease test kits, antimalarial drugs and more.

Health services are crucial for all people in Guinea, but especially those living in poverty, who would not have access to reliable, affordable healthcare without the intervention of USAID and other aid programs. By preventing the spread of diseases such as malaria, Ebola and COVID-19, USAID programs improve the quality of life of Guineans living below the poverty line.

The Cultural Cohesion for Peace and Prosperity Project

USAID programs in Guinea also focus on peace and community sustainability. For example, USAID’s Cultural Cohesion for Peace and Prosperity Project (C2P2) works to prevent conflict between competing communities in Guinea, whether the fighting results from religious, ethnic or other differences.

Social science research shows a strong link between poverty and conflict. High poverty rates increase the likelihood of conflict occurring, and when violence breaks out, the people with the least resources often suffer the most. Ending and preventing conflict between various community groups allows people to focus on generating income rather than simply surviving.

The Impact of USAID

Overall, USAID programs in Guinea have a significant impact on those living in poverty, whether the programs focus on agriculture, health services or peace. Continuing to prioritize, fund and expand aid programs is key to improving overall living conditions and reducing poverty levels in Guinea.

Julia Welp
Photo: Flickr

Pearl Foundation
The Pearl Foundation is a nonprofit organization based on Christian beliefs. As a humanitarian service, the organization expands its ministry in Nicaragua through assistance in nursing homes, helping find recyclables, providing feeding services and much more.

Why Nicaragua?

Linda and Darrell Hindson started taking mission trips to Nicaragua in 2000. The couple had developed such a bond with the people there that they then set more trips in motion. With the church’s help, the pair founded the Pearl Foundation in 2007, with the ultimate goal being ministry but also improving the lives of the people of Nicaragua.

How the US Provided Aid in Honduras

In an interview with The Borgen Project, Reynel Soto recalled poverty in the mountains of Honduras. He claimed that “Poverty is when people have no money, no houses… That’s what poverty is to me.” He also recalled there not being many job opportunities. The people survived off the land, farming and taking advantage of banana and mango trees. When asked about the United States coming in to help, he said, “Concrete costs a lot of money. The U.S. came in and pour concrete in the floors and built roofs… It made a big difference, yeah.”

The Pearl Foundation understands the need to connect with all of humanity every time a stomach is full, a person learns how to make money despite economic difficulties and someone finds joy in the midst of pain. The organization comprises teams that are working towards reducing poverty by highlighting the value of relationships and personal morals.

Accomplishments

In recent years, the Pearl Foundation has funded Christmas presents for children, fed multitudes of families and individuals, have explored the recycling opportunities at dumps and have educated the public on economic distress on their blog and Facebook, prompting people to donate money. With headquarters in both Granada, Nicaragua and Boiling Springs, South Carolina, the organization gathers numerous volunteers and raises money.

The Impact of Nonprofits

Many nonprofits host fundraisers, ask for donations online and rely on volunteers or interns to maintain necessary resources. The money they obtain may go toward a specific need or advocacy while the rest goes toward expansion. Making decisions to fund infrastructure, feeding programs, shoes and more are essential to encouraging economic growth, making for a better future and quality of life for communities.

Nonprofits take on a responsibility most would not. According to Naomi Camper, nonprofits should participate in the policy-making process to further ensure stable communities as organizations are experienced in financing, resources, communication and marketing. With this knowledge, economies stand a chance at growth, security and mobility.

Foreign Aid Myths Many US Citizens Believe

U.S. citizens have many misconceptions when it comes to foreign aid. Many believe that the U.S. spends around 25% on foreign aid when the reality is 0.1%. To top it off, the myth goes that any aid does not even make a difference. However, there has been a reduction in diseases such as malaria, polio, HIV/AIDS and many other curable or controllable illnesses around the world. In recent years, increased spending on the health of children saved approximately 3.3 million lives.

Many may also think of foreign aid as charity, meaning that the U.S. gets nothing in return. The reality is that the U.S. seriously negotiates what it does with the budget to ensure that it will benefit U.S. citizens. To avoid corruption, many organizations such as USAID keep track of how donor countries use the money, as well as create systematic contracts with government facilities. These precautions keep foreign aid genuine.

Another misconception is that foreign aid is only useful and necessary during war times. However, the likelihood of safety is greater during times of peace, as it reduces the chance of conflict. In the long run, providing stability to those who need it will likely not lead to the need for U.S. military intervention.

The Importance of Economic Growth

Economic growth ensures services for communities, essentially when it comes to improving living standards. Nonprofit organizations have employed approximately 12.3 million people compared to those that other U.S. companies employ. Nonprofits also supply the unemployed with job skills and training to help find them opportunities and take care of elderly parents.

Economic growth can also increase based on the events a nonprofit hosts. For example, an organization can hold a concert as a fundraiser. Many people go shopping to dress up for the occasion, go out to eat before or after, potentially pay for parking and, of course, donate. This brings in tax revenue, giving businesses a reason to stay open.

Bringing Hope to the Hopeless

The Pearl Foundation contributes to job opportunities, tax revenue and peace when aiding the people of Nicaragua. Not only is it about poverty, but the nature of mankind. The organization uses its morals to reach new staff members and volunteers to raise money. It passionately serves people by providing fun and games, food, assistance and knowledge of ways to make a living. Nicaragua is in good hands thanks to the assistance the Pearl Foundation provides.

– Selena Soto
Photo: Flickr

Build Back Better World Initiative
Congress has been negotiating the size and scope of a domestic infrastructure bill for most of Joe Biden’s presidency. Still, action is necessary to further infrastructure abroad. The U.S. and its allies in the G7 recognize this need and have launched the Build Back Better World Initiative (B3W) to address global infrastructure challenges. A closer look at the initiative provides insight into the state of infrastructure in low and middle-income countries around the world.

The Infrastructure Gap

Infrastructure connects people and goods, which allows economies to scale and grow. Forming highways, ports, bridges, railways, pipelines, sewage systems and more, infrastructure projects are vital for transport, communication, energy and health. Infrastructure projects are the foundation of economic development and are vital to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including universal access to water and electricity. 

Infrastructure projects are also important for developing nations because the projects can be a major source of employment, spurring economic growth and allowing workers to gain new skills. The White House currently estimates that the infrastructure needed in low and middle-income countries globally totals more than $40 trillion.

Infrastructure gaps are significant because the gaps hinder economic growth. According to World Bank research, “Every 10% increase in infrastructure provision increases [economic] output by approximately 1% in the long term.” In other words, spending on infrastructure grows an economy. Further, as environmental challenges continue to threaten nations around the world, the World Bank says that even small investments in climate-resilient infrastructure can save trillions of dollars in recovery efforts.

The Build Back Better World Initiative

Partnering with G7 nations, the U.S. launched the B3W to alleviate some of the problems associated with infrastructure gaps. The White House will look toward not only its allies but the private sector for hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for infrastructure investment. The administration says that it will leverage partnerships with the private sector because “status quo funding and financing approaches are inadequate” to meet the size of these challenges. 

The focus for projects is four distinct areas, including climate, health, digital technology and gender equity. The aim is to reach all around the world with different partners, but, USAID and other U.S. development groups will take leading roles. However, there is still an understanding that local needs will be a priority, as “infrastructure that is developed in partnership with those whom it benefits will last longer and generate more development impact.” 

The Biden administration has stressed the importance of good governance in foreign assistance and has already noted the importance of using B3W as a way to encourage full transparency with monitoring tools, common contracts and metrics for evaluation.

The Build Back Better World Initiative and US Interest

Foreign assistance supports U.S. strategic interests, which is why Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Daleep Singh has indicated support for the initiative. In recent years, especially when the U.S. has taken a step back from foreign affairs, China has accelerated spending on global infrastructure with the Belt and Road Initiative. 

However, Singh indicates that the point of the initiative is not to inflame hostilities or work as an anti-China group but rather to provide an alternative to Belt and Road financing. The goal is to “rally countries around a positive agenda that projects our shared values.” B3W supports U.S. interests by providing an alternative and showing that the U.S. is once again ready and willing to be a good partner for the world.

With Congress working on a domestic infrastructure package, it is important to not lose sight of the critical need for sustained and significant investment in infrastructure around the world. Infrastructure projects connect the world, making it safer and healthier. Funding infrastructure around the world as part of the Build Back Better World Initiative aligns with U.S. strategic interests. Hopefully, this initiative will encourage bridging gaps and becoming a more connected world.

– Alex Muckenfuss
Photo: Flickr