Information and stories on foreign aid.

A recent video created by BuzzFeed compares the buying power of $5 in 13 different countries. Of the 13 countries mentioned, Ethiopia, being the only third world country, represented the developing world among the other developed nations comparing the cost of everything from beer to beef around the world.

As the video shows, the buying power of $5 in the developing world is much stronger than in developed nations. This stark contrast led to comments such as “I [should] start shopping in China” and “I would be eating good in Ethiopia.” However, the video leaves out certain factors such as the average household income of each country and the cost of living. For example, in the United States, it takes the average person about twenty minutes to make $5. In Ethiopia, it takes between 2-3 work days to make that same amount.

Although global poverty is dropping, according to the World Bank, 40.7 percent of people in world live on less than $2 a day. This means that after two days of work two-fifths of the world still could not purchase the items shown in BuzzFeed’s video.

Entertaining and enlightening, BuzzFeed’s video goes to show how incredibly helpful small amount of aid can be to countries which desperately need it.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: World Bank

USAID Helps Fund Research for Heat-Tolerant Wheat
As part of the United States’ initiative to ensure food security, Feed the Future, USAID is funding research at Washington State University that will aim to create heat-resistant varieties of wheat better suited for harsh climates around the world that struggle with adequate food sources. Researchers hope to obtain the first temperature-tolerant breed of wheat within five years.

Also taking part in funding the research is the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR).

Because a wheat plant’s productivity falls significantly at temperatures above 82 degrees, researchers will study certain breeds of wheat to determine and then isolate the genes associated with the ability to tolerate higher temperatures. The research will take place in the North Indian River Plain, where issues such as food scarcity and a booming population of over 1 billion people are stretching resources extremely thin.

Although the North Indian River Plain will be the focus of the research, participants acknowledge the impact that heat-resistant varieties of wheat can have in a world of impending climate change and global warming, coupled with increasing populations on nearly every continent.

Kulvinder Gill, project director, stated “The newly developed ‘Climate Resilient’ cultivars will be better equipped to deal with these challenges. The project will benefit all wheat-growing regions of the world, as heat during flowering is an issue in most of the wheat-growing regions.”

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID

Amid the debate as to whether or not foreign aid helps or hinders developing countries, World Bank Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa Marcelo Giugale believes that the tables are turning. While the number of people in poverty and countries in need of financial assistance gradually falls, the need for foreign aid will remain a constant. However, the players will change as well as the type of aid needed.

Currently, foreign aid is criticized for many reasons. Corruption, insensitivity and imposition to local markets and businesses, and a growing sense of “aid-dependency” in recipient countries are just a few of the concerns. While the list is long, Giugale believes that the role of foreign aid and a country’s dependence on the monetary assistance is diminishing. He says that the future of foreign aid will become a search for knowledge instead of cash. To reiterate this point, he cites past aid recipients turned donors such as China, India and Brazil and their roles in assisting Africa.

As donor countries begin to regard foreign aid more as investment and partnership, they begin to export goods and assist in building a sound infrastructure rather than imposing a certain way of life or thinking. As developing countries are embracing the income and value of their own natural resources in an economy where oil, gas and minerals generate revenue, the assistance turns to a need of knowledge.

Giugale believes that developing countries already know how to build schools and can pay the teachers that work in them. The aid that supports these developments may diminish in the future. However, the aid that developing countries might seek in the future includes solutions to problems that the government cannot solve alone. In the future of foreign aid, a donor country may lend assistance through experience in improving educational curriculum, health insurance systems, or regulating private suppliers of infrastructure.

– Kira Maixner

Source: The Huffington Post

USAID Helps At-Risk Youth in Central America
The program administered by USAID called “A Ganar” (“To Win”), will be branching out to include support for at-risk youth throughout Central America. The program, funded jointly by USAID and the Inter-American Development Bank, currently operates in 15 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The program aims to increase education and training for youth in Central and South American countries as a way of preventing violence and crime and to encourage youth to participate in activities and training that will allow them to have meaningful careers.

Partners of the Americas, who are tasked with putting this program into practice, will administer a four-step process with young adults aged 16 through 24, which includes math and reading courses, participation in team sports, career training, and linking youth with private companies.

Although the program will be new to Central America, it has already been in practice in other countries since 2005 and has achieved great results. Since 2005, 11,000 young people have participated with 5,000 of those involved with a job, furthering their education, or starting their own enterprises.

Christina Kindlon

Source: USAID

United States Continues Aid to GhanaThe United States Ambassador to Ghana, Scott DeLisi, has stated that the United States will not be cutting the foreign aid given to Ghana. Some donor countries have backed out of Ghana after accusations of the misuse of aid money by the local government but DeLisi claims that U.S. aid dollars have not been misused and that the office will continue to stand against corruption in the local government’s use of aid money.

DeLisi said that since U.S. aid to Ghana is not part of a direct budget support system, the money does not go to the local government to spend on anything; the money is easy to track and has not been misused. DeLisi also spoke about raising wages for regional health workers in order to retain well-trained workers.

The United States gives an annual $430 million to Ghana, a country with great potential for growth, especially in the energy sector. Some of the main programs that receive U.S. funding in Ghana focus on treating TB, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. This is a great example of how the United States’ aid money is being carefully monitored as the country’s aid organizations continue to stand against corruption, assuring taxpayers that American aid goes to helping the poor and building national infrastructure. Learn more about our donor history with Ghana. 

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: allAfrica
Photo: Flickr

Gerson Speaks Against Cutting Foreign Aid
The ONE organization, a group that fights global poverty, arranged for former Bush administration speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist, Michael Gerson, to speak in the Old Capital Museum. Gerson’s speech advocated for foreign aid programs and emphasized the dangers of decreased aid funding.

The world has come a long way in terms of reducing global poverty and diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, however, we may see these positive trends start to reverse if funding is lost. Gerson is concerned that all of the progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2030 could be compromised with cut funding. With the upcoming budget cuts, Gerson reminds us that not all cuts have the same impact. He explained, “Cuts that are evenly applied aren’t evenly felt. There’s a difference between cutting a highway program and cutting a malaria program.” The former Bush administration staffer has been acclaimed for forming the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a program that worked to provide HIV/AIDS treatment to impoverished people.

Given that foreign aid programs account for such a small percentage of the federal budget, Gerson reminds congress that foreign aid is not to blame for the current deficit. He specifically criticized Rand Paul for his outspokenness against aid. The ONE organization praises Gerson for his foreign aid and HIV/AIDS prevention advocacy and hopes that, with his leadership, Washington will continue to support USAID and other foreign assistance programs.

– Mary Penn

Photo: ONE


As a way to save money, the Obama Administration is expected to switch from sending domestically grown food to giving cash to USAID recipient countries. Although the administration has not yet commented on its new plans, people close to the decision-makers have confirmed that this new method will be employed as a way to decrease spending without compromising food aid.

There have been many opposing views as to whether this new strategy will help or hurt people living in hunger. Although the food aid budget would drop 25 percent, sending money instead of food is faster and more cost effective. Currently, shipping charges consist of about half of the US food aid costs. This is due to a rule that requires the food to be transported on US shipping vessels, which is more expensive. Groups in favor of cash donations include Care, Actionaid, American Jewish World Service, Church World Service and Oxfam.

However, other groups, like farming and shipping associations, World Vision, International Relief and Development, and Planet Aid, are against the proposed new strategy. Since recipients will be responsible for purchasing food with the aid money, there is the danger that food in that country may not be readily available or of high quality. These opposition groups are also concerned that local farmers may not be able to produce the necessary variety of crops for a healthy diet. Most importantly, they oppose the change because food donation has proven to be effective.

If the proposal goes into effect, this will be the most drastic change to US food aid programs in over 50 years. It may be the case that the administration decides to reduce food donation, but not completely end the program. Twenty-four senators and many other farm and foreign aid groups have written to the Obama Administration speaking out against any changes to food aid policy. However, with the current budget cuts, it is likely that the White House will try to reduce costs as much as possible.

– Mary Penn

Source: GMA News
Photo: Guardian

USAID to Expand Its Teacher Training Project in Pakistan
The USAID Teacher Education Project in Pakistan has expanded to provide teaching services to every province in the country. This $75 million project has been working since 2011 to modernize Pakistan’s education system. With the help of Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission (HEC), over 2,600 students have enrolled in 15 universities and 57 colleges across the country. USAID hopes to see this number increase as more teachers emerge from the Teacher Education Program.

In order to reach out to more potential teachers, USAID realized the need to enlarge its program. Not only will the Teacher Education Project offer more locations, it is also giving 1,900 scholarships to students based on merit and financial need.

This higher education program will be implementing suggestions from a study conducted in 2006 that found flaws in Pakistan’s current teacher training system. The study discovered a trend of the government setting unrealistic goals for its education system and then, when it fails to meet those goals, creating new, also idealistic targets that are never reached. By making its goals more realistic, USAID is confident in its ability to improve Pakistan’s education system by producing high quality teachers.

As Pakistan trains more well qualified teachers, the country will begin to experience higher quality of education for its younger students as well. Javaid Laghari, chair of the HEC, is optimistic about Pakistan’s future, “We hope for a good change, when today’s students become tomorrow’s teachers.”

– Mary Penn

Source: UWN
Photo: BarakatNews

What the Wealthiest Could Do

If the bank account of every billionaire on Earth were put into one big pile, that pile would total $5.4 trillion dollars. Sounds like a lot, but that figure is dwarfed by the sum total of each American household combined which totaled $40.2 trillion. Tackling the problems of impoverished nations seems like a task too huge to comprehend, but when you look at the total capital of citizens in the United States and top earners around the world, the problem seems within reach.

World Vision estimates that it would cost roughly $50 million to provide clean water to each needy household in the entire world for a year. Seems like a lot of money until you compare it to the combined earning power of each billionaire in the world. It would cost a single percent of that total wealth. This would take much less than one percent of the total annual earnings of US citizens and would save 1.6 million lives annually.

Clean water is one problem, but food is another. The World Food Program estimates that it would cost $3.2 billion to ensure that children stay alive and nourished until they are grown. This would cost 1/600th of the total earnings of the wealthiest in the world and would save 4.2 million lives annually.

Contributions that already exist from governments and nongovernmental organizations are indeed helping to solve the problem. Extreme poverty is predicted to be solved by 2030, but some help from individuals could be the most powerful force in the fight against poverty.

– Pete Grapentien

Source Huffington Post
Photo Source MSN Now

UK to Invest £33 Million in Darfur
The United Kingdom has decided to invest in the future of Darfur by giving at least £33 million to the struggling region. A land where 2 million people are still displaced since its civil war started in 2003, Darfur is in desperate need of assistance in rebuilding its economy, communities, and agriculture system. The UK hopes to provide the resources for its impoverished people to become self-sufficient.

The program is aimed at increasing Darfur’s crop yields through training and education classes. With the foreign aid money, farmers will be able to create seed banks and employ better irrigation techniques. The UK is also focusing on improved health and sanitation systems. Lynne Featherstone, UK’s International development minister, is confident that the aid will give 1.7 million people clean water and sanitation and 1.5 million people emergency food supplies. Currently half of Darfur is reliant on emergency food services. Featherstone is confident that improving these aspects of peoples’ lives will lead to a more thriving society.

UK’s foreign aid is said to ensure that half a million people in Darfur will become “food secure” by 2015. This will be a huge accomplishment for a country that has been war-torn for over a decade. Unfortunately, one and a half million people currently do not have food security, so there is a lot more work to done. As more countries are cutting back on foreign aid, it is encouraging to see the UK increase aid money to Darfur. The impact this money will have on its poor population is staggering and could mean the difference between life and death for thousands, if not millions of people.

– Mary Penn

Source: Independent
Source: Guardian