Information and stories on foreign aid.

globalfund
On March 21, 2013, Congress reaffirmed its support for the Global Fund by passing a continuing resolution that ensures support and funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Even with increased tension within Congress over budget cuts and a very tight budget, Congress has shown it understands how necessary and critical the work done by the Global Fund and its affiliates is in fighting these life-threatening diseases.

The Global Fund has helped combat these diseases and improve health by focusing on development assistance. A large part of its strategy has to do with providing the funds necessary in development and implementation of new technology and interventions that have and will continue to change the trajectory of these dangerous diseases. This funding comes from a lot of different sources, yet, the United States is by far the largest donor. With the US’s aid, the Global Fund is able to finance interventions in more than 150 countries across the globe.

This means that the world is on track to halve the amount of people affected by tuberculosis by 2015 (as compared to the 1990s numbers). Elimination of malaria in many territories is occurring and will continue to occur with the help of the Global Fund. New infections of HIV are on the decline in many countries as awareness and preventive methods are becoming more and more common. With the continued support of the United States – which comes across through Congress’ support of the bill – these numbers will only improve. The number of people affected by tuberculosis will continue on a downward spiral. More and more territories will be malaria free and HIV prevention will be a bigger concern than treating HIV.

– Angela Hooks

Source: allAfrica
Photo: The Global Fund

Bill Gates Responds to Skepticism of Foreign AidUS foreign aid has recently been thrown into the debate of where to cut government spending. Many Members of Congress have expressed doubt as to the effectiveness of foreign aid and the United States’ responsibility of providing foreign aid to third world countries. In his annual letter, Bill Gates wrote a response to these many concerns asserting that foreign aid works and the United States should continue funding this vital program.

Bill Gates begins his argument by addressing concerns that foreign aid is ineffective and only goes into the hands of the corrupt. By using the example of an organization he supports, GAVI Alliance, Gates is able to explain the specifics of foreign aid in a way that is often ignored. GAVI uses all of the donations it receives to provide vaccines to developing countries. Gates reiterates that the organization does not send cash to these countries, only vaccines. This is one way nonprofits and USAid can bypass possible corrupt political leaders.

Another way GAVI ensures its funds are not wasted is by only operating in countries that have provided evidence of a strong enough immunization system to administer the vaccines to a majority of children. These countries are required also to pay a percentage of the cost of the vaccines. Gates reminds us that China was once a recipient of such aid and now pays the full amount for vaccines. He also stresses how methods for measuring accountability and effectiveness have greatly increased and countries failing to meet certain criteria no longer receive assistance.

Not only are assistance organizations addressing corruption and government accountability, but studies have also shown these organizations to be achieving their goal of reducing global poverty and hunger. GAVI has contributed to the decrease in children dying each year (down by one quarter) by providing 370 million children with vaccinations. That means 2.4 million children’s lives have been saved in about thirteen years, since GAVI was created in 2000.

Gates acknowledges that there is still some corruption when dealing with foreign aid, but that does not mean the US should stop sending assistance. Foreign aid is working, and eventually recipient countries will build their economies to the point where they no longer require aid. The implications of such development mean a larger market for US products and a more secure world, not to mention drastically better living standards for formerly impoverished people.

Bill Gates calls for US politicians to be the moral leaders of the world. Such actions will not only ensure international respect but also international influence. He urges the US to follow the example of Britain and other countries devoted to foreign aid and continue funding for foreign assistance programs.

– Mary Penn
Source: Daily Mail
Photo: Gates Foundation

Roadtrip to End PovertyOver 300 youth members from the Victorian contingent of the Oaktree Foundation’s ‘Roadtrip to End Poverty’ joined to urge Australia to increase its foreign aid!

Currently, Australia spends 0.35 percent of its gross national income in its fight against poverty, and the movement is calling for 0.7 percent. On March 12th, red was the color that these youth ambassadors wore and painted all over Albury. 16 groups, each group composed of 5, has started on a series of road-trips to meet with various members of parliament urging them to raise foreign aid.

According to road-trip manager, Catherine Nadel, the movement’s political goal is to increase foreign aid, while the social goal is to create “a movement of young leaders.” For two of the involved members, twin sisters Jacinta and Sharon Robinson, “poverty is a matter close to their hearts.” Jacinta experienced living on 2 dollars a day for a week last year; thus both twins developed an appreciation for those who constantly and consistently live in poverty.

The road-trip ends in two days, on Sunday, in Sydney.

– Leen Abdallah

Source: Border Mail

Rand Paul Misjudges Importance of Foreign AidSenator Rand Paul from Kentucky has made his opinion on American foreign aid quite clear. While there are people here in the United States who still suffer from lack of health insurance and inadequate education, Senator Rand Paul believes that American money should be spent on internal improvements.

However, with a consistent focus on strong national security by the last five or so presidencies, it is not that foreign aid should be cut or reduced. Rather, it should be moved around to be made better use of.

There is military aid, which aims to achieve a specific national security goal directly. This may include ammunition, military bases, or force training. The second category of foreign aid could be best labeled as ‘structural’ aid. Structural aid is given to countries as humanitarian aid, money to rebuild infrastructure, improve health care and education, among other areas. While some may wish to argue otherwise, structural aid allows countries to stabilize themselves internally to prevent outbreaks such as civil wars or terrorist-like groups from arising from the grievances the populace may have.

While military aid tries to end the problem after it comes out of hand, structural aid should be looked at as a way to prevent the problem before it even starts. However, it can be hard to differentiate between the most pressing needs of a foreign country and how that fits into America’s economic ability. Sometimes, nations are not in any political state to receive structural aid. For example, funding education and health care services in Syria is understandably difficult at the moment when rebels and government forces are constantly killing citizens and endangering their everyday lives.

Although it will be hard to convince our nation’s government of the usefulness of structural aid because its actual ‘return’ takes years to surface, pumping money into military aid and then criticizing the use of structural aid ignores the link between both categories and minimizing threats to our national security.

The U.S. presence in countries should not have to start only when wars break out. We should utilize our outstanding resources and analysts to pinpoint countries that are currently able to make the most use out of American aid and begin smoothing out the small bumps on the road before they turn into dangerous potholes.

– Deena Dulgerian
Source:Policymic

Republicans Support More Minimalist Foreign Policy
Aggressive.

The above word is used a great deal when describing Republicans’ take on foreign policy. The Republican take requires America to be aggressive, taking on a very large role in worldwide interactions in order to maintain its political advantages and in order for American foreign policies to remain crucial and imperative worldwide. However, an aggressive foreign policy approach means that America has been involved in a lot of wars and conflicts across the globe, leading to increased military and defense spending. Cutting back on defense spending could push back on the many cuts the government has recently made as a result of the sequester, helping to decrease the national debt and allowing for higher spending in other areas.

Now, a new generation of Republicans, led by Senator Rand Paul, seems to be hinting at a different Republican approach to foreign policy that could do just that – cut military and defense spending. This different approach, some argue, has some elements of increasing US isolationism. Yet, ultimately, according to Senator Paul, his approach that the United States should take a more minimalist foreign policy approach is more realistic than other options. A minimalist foreign policy approach would have more limitations on presidential power and American power abroad (two areas that Rand Paul sees as needing to be limited, which he reasoned was the justification behind his filibuster of President Obama’s drone policy last week).

Whether or not this new approach will continue to be seriously considered or grow support is unknown. According to the President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard N. Haass, Rand Paul is proposing that a more minimalist foreign policy approach would be the solution to finding a new Republican brand as they approach 2016. It would be a means of ensuring that the US overreaching in another country, as was done in Iraq and many of the US’s other ongoing military involvements, does not occur again.

In terms of foreign aid, a more minimalist foreign policy may mean a more minimalist domestic policy as well. Turning focus inward and safeguarding national interests within the United States may provide less incentive to provide foreign aid, especially in situations that involve conflict or have turbulent political implications.

– Angela Hooks

Source: NY Times
Photo: Facebook

Opposition-Led Northern Syria Lacks Foreign AidOpposition-led northern Syria, which is controlled by rebels, are receiving little to no aid. Most of the aid is going to territory controlled by President Bashar al-Assad, thereby creating resentment and tension with those who are designated to receive the aid. Unfortunately, the U.N. adheres to al-Assad’s rules, which restrict access to territories run by the opposition. Although Syrian refugees in government-controlled areas are receiving ample aid and are cared for by the U.N., those in opposition-led areas lack food, fuel, blankets and medicine. However, the U.S. is using independent non-profit organizations to contribute generously to help deliver these necessities to the opposition-controlled areas.

According to a U.S. diplomat involved in Syrian policy, U.S. involvement through these non-profit independent groups must remain confidential to protect staff in Damascus who are still working under al-Assad. Thus, many Syrians living in opposition-led areas have no idea that the West is contributing to their aid. In the struggle to deliver aid to these areas, eight U.N. aid workers have been killed, demonstrating the complexity of fully providing aid where it is needed. The unfortunate reality is that Assad’s government is still recognized by the U.N. and is supported by Russia.

A Syrian director of the aid office in Sawran asserted that aid should be given to the people, not to the government. Many officials from these non-profit groups are arguing that as the conflict is getting worse, it is getting harder and harder to deliver assistance to opposition-controlled areas. There is also a huge amount of aid coming into Syria from Gulf countries but, again, the majority of it is to aid the Syrian opposition in its war against Assad and not to meet humanitarian needs.

In times of such desperation, many people are sleeping “crammed in leaking tents without heat or electricity. They crowd like cattle in metal chutes.” They receive two meals a day, sometimes one, or none at all. Children are said to “slosh through muddy puddles” in big sandals, so big that they fall off their feet. Recently, during a shoe donation campaign, the refugees ended up burning the shoes as firewood while desperate for heating fuel.

The medical group in Syria is requesting the international world to cross the Turkish border and deliver aid. Currently, the Turkish government is providing a refugee camp for Syrians outside of the Northern rebel-controlled border. These camps are equipped with heat, electricity, and other necessities. Additionally, schools with therapists are provided for refugee children to help them deal with post-traumatic stress.

Leen Abdallah

Source: New York Times

Indian Version of USAID Bodes WellThe United States Agency of International Development (USAID) claims that they are very pleased to see the development of India’s own international aid program that is modeled after USAID. USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah has just returned from a visit to Myanmar and India.

India, which has one of history’s fastest-growing economies, will stop receiving foreign aid from the United Kingdom in just a few years and they are already working to distribute their own aid dollars to neighbors near and far. At this point, India has become the perfect example of what a developing country can become; India is less and less dependent upon international aid each year and they continue to grow their domestic economy. Unfortunately, the country’s massive population still suffers from some serious issues. About 20% of the world’s children that die of preventable disease before the age of five are from India. Nonetheless, USAID plans to work with their Indian counterparts on a number of important issues while focusing on health, energy-creation and industry, and agriculture.

Some may think that India isn’t ready for such a step, but the country boasts the world’s ninth-highest nominal GDP, a giant workforce that is becoming increasingly better educated, and one of the world’s biggest food surpluses. The impressive growth of the country over the last decade along with their expansive resources and close cooperation with USAID and the United Nations will help to create a well-organized series of programs that will be able to assist countries such as Afghanistan, where the Indian version of USAID is already working with a group that aims to create job opportunities for women.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Economic Times, United Nations,

Senator Bill Frist Calls For Global InvestmentBill Frist, a former Republican senator and majority leader from Tennessee, recently called on America and Congress to “continue our legacy of saving lives.” Less than 1 percent of the US federal budget goes to improving global health, an investment that results in changing the lives of hundreds of thousands every year. “It’s hard to imagine a better return on investment,” said Frist.

In a lengthy article, he recaps the history and precedent that has made America a global leader in developing, supporting and administering life-saving medicines and healthcare practices. Under President George W. Bush, congress made a founding pledge of $300 million to the international initiative – Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Bush, with bipartisan support from Congress, also established the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest program ever to combat a single disease. President Barack Obama has likewise embraced this program and America’s role in eradicating AIDS/HIV.

2013 is the 10th anniversary of PEPFAR, and since its founding the number of people on life-saving treatment has increased more than twenty-fold. HIV infection rates are down, the number of malaria cases is down by more than 50%, and tuberculosis mortality rates are consistently falling. Working in more than 150 countries, the Global Fund is saving an estimated hundred thousand lives each month.

Frist goes on to say what a critical time we are in right now. He emphasizes the importance of continuing on the path of involvement and aid in order to make sure our gains are not lost. The momentum must not be jeopardized or diseases may spread in new ways, mutate and reclaim the lives of people whom medicines have previously made healthy. Frist stated that investment in global health is “good for national security, economically prudent and – most importantly, is the right thing to do.”

– Mary Purcell
Source: Roll Call
Photo: Fastdarfur.org

 

Fearing Foreign Aid LossRecently, there have been divided fuss over the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Most presume that this decision is beneficial allowing the Afghan people to become more self-sufficient and in control of their livelihoods and decisions. After all, their soldiers have been trained by American soldiers. Others are fearing foreign aid loss altogether. Foreign aid workers need protection abroad. With the withdrawal of foreign troops, many fear violent breakouts.

Since the 2001 invasion, the international community has contributed financially to Afghanistan in a drastic manner leading to many improvements and proving to be an obstacle in the face of the Taliban and some Al-Qaeda. One example of this is how a program funded by the European Union has allowed Afghan street children to receive a proper education. Although the U.S. Agency for International Development has built close to 700 schools and provided excellent health care facilities leading to a reduction in child mortality, the money is now at stake. The Afghan government is said to be unready to fill the gap after their four years grant expires next month.

Additionally, the U.S. has now shifted its aid focus from funding projects that yield fast and direct progress such as building schools and clinics to a more sustainable approach allowing the Afghan government to develop and maintain programs themselves. There are still many complications and controversies regarding the channeling of the money through the Afghan government which some fear may be susceptible to corruption. The fear is that this would lead to the wasting of money rather than it being put to good use and producing sustainable and valuable progress. Thus, the shift in U.S. focus may certainly lead to more efficiency in terms of development and how the money is being put to use as opposed to its past “uncoordinated spending” according to Afghan officials.

– Leen Abdallah
Source: Frontier Post

Doctors Without Borders and Measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo
There has been a threat from measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 2010. Three months ago, the disease reached epidemic levels. Although much is being done to combat the spread of measles, tens of thousands of people are still affected.

Over the past year, Doctors Without Borders has inoculated nearly half a million children against measles, having to treat nearly 20,000 for the disease itself. Mortality rates can vary from 15 to 25 percent; the manager of a medical team “counted 35 dead in one village…traveling from village to village, we hear just one word: measles.”

Perhaps the most awful thing about measles outbreaks is that the disease itself is extremely treatable. Vaccines can be purchased for a pittance, but the problem in the Democratic Republic of Congo lies in getting the medicine to those who need it. Without modern infrastructure extending navigable roads to many villages, the vaccine cannot always be kept cold in transit. One health center “has only two refrigerators and one broken motorcycle to serve an area half the size of Switzerland.”

Doctors Without Borders put out the alert back in December, hoping that increased attention to the epidemic would bring more donations, and therefore more treatment. Tens of thousands of lives can be saved for barely a few dollars each. The only thing standing between those who are suffering and their good health is the vacillation of foreign donors.

Jake Simon

Source: Doctors Without Borders