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

Combating Intensified Hunger in ZimbabweSince the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Zimbabwe has faced crippling issues of hunger, starvation and high malnutrition rates. The World Food Programme (WFP) recorded in December 2019 that 7.7 million people living within Zimbabwe were food insecure. Moreover, Global Citizen reported that approximately 90% of children between the ages of 6 months and 2-years-old may die without food aid. Here is some information about intensified hunger in Zimbabwe.

COVID-19 is Intensifying Hunger

The population of people lacking sustenance in Zimbabwe–half of its total population–has only grown since the conception of COVID-19. There has been an increase of nearly 10 million people surviving on less than one meal a day since COVID-19.

Reginald Moyo, a resident of Cowdray Park, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe told The Borgen Project that the “majority of the people don’t have permanent jobs and they [live] by hand to mouth, so [with] a month without working[,]…they are now facing starvation.” Many people are working to address this growing crisis. The people of Zimbabwe, international organizations and the Chinese government have provided aid to Zimbabweans in need.

Efforts from International Organizations

On May 4, 2020, the U.N. entities of Zimbabwe, working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), released an official food analysis report in response to the growing hunger in Zimbabwe. The report stated that “The total funding required to assist the 3.7 million people by the international humanitarian community for July 2019 to April 2020 amounts to USD 331.5 million.” The effects of COVID-19 have intensified hunger in Zimbabwe and increased the need for assistance. The Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP) requested an additional 6.7 billion USD to combat hunger in order to protect lives.

However, aid is not only monetarily based. In 2002, the nonprofit group Action Against Hunger set a goal to provide food aid, healthcare, sanitation/hygiene needs and water to countless Zimbabweans in need. It estimated in 2018 that its efforts aided 25 Zimbabweans through nutrition and health programs; gave 52 people water, food and healthcare; and dispensed 3,187 people with food. Action Against Hunger not only gave the required resources for survival but also provided education on how local Zimbabwe efforts could improve hunger in their country.

Response from Zimbabwe’s Government

On March 30, 2020, President Mnangagwa reopened the markets to aid small-scale farmers and traders in the difficulties they faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. While this may seem to not directly address hunger in Zimbabwe, the decision has determined their survival in the upcoming months. Prior to this change, farmers and traders could not go outside or attend to their crop which limited their income as well as their food supply.

The Borgen Project interviewed Nkocy Thando, a farmer living in rural areas within the Bulawayo area of Zimbabwe. Thando stated that since the markets have opened up again, locals have been able to “work when they open in the morning to three [in] the afternoon.” He expressed his immense gratitude for this change and stated that he felt that “all would be okay soon.”

Aid from China

The Chinese Embassy and the private sector are also combating hunger in Zimbabwe by addressing COVID-19 needs. RFI, a worldwide French news and current affairs broadcast reported that China’s efforts have included:

  1. Completing an upgrade worth $500,000 to the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital, which is the main COVID-19 center in Harare, Zimbabwe.
  2. Two Chinese firms providing 1,000 goggles, 50,000 masks and 510 protective suits to a charity that the First Lady, Auxillia Mnangagwa, runs.
  3. The Chinese Embassy equipping Zimbabwe with 7,600 suits for protection, 166,000 masks, 20,000 testing kits, 12,000 pairs of gloves and five ventilators.
  4. The China International Development Cooperation Agency donating $3 million to UNICEF Zimbabwe.

Diverse Responses

There are many organizations working to address the existing and intensifying issues of hunger, starvation and high malnutrition rates in Zimbabwe. However, their solutions range from governmental mandates reopening markets to increased funding for poverty-reduction organizations in the United Nations (UN). While the current responses to hunger in Zimbabwe seem mainly focused on COVID-19 efforts, they still are making a difference in combating intensified hunger in Zimbabwe.

– Alexis LeBaron
Photo: Flickr