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Sen. Bob CaseySen. Bob Casey has been a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania for 13 years since his election in 2006. Casey is a member of the Democratic Party. He is assigned to four Senate committees: Finance; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Agriculture; Nutrition, and Forestry; and the Special Committee on Aging. Consequently, this article shows the efforts made by Sen. Bob Casey to fight against global poverty and help poor people. He has been working to pass two significant bipartisan legislation regarding global poverty, as well as supporting people around the world to improve U.S. national security.

Debt Cancellation for Poor Countries to Combat Global Poverty

In 2007, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Dick Lugar (R-IN) introduced the Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation Act of 2007. Senator Casey sponsored bipartisan legislation to help poor countries that had spent money on repaying debt rather than taking care of their citizens in poverty. He said, “This legislation will help these nations get out of debt and help them free up resources to reduce poverty.” This comment and his support for the bill shows his commitment to reducing global poverty from the early period of his term as a senator.

Global Food Security

With Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Sen. Bob Casey introduced the Global Food Security Act in 2016. This legislation required the administration to assist targeted communities and nations to improve agricultural productivity and enhance food and nutrition security. It also emphasizes the importance of enhancing maternal and child nutrition. This act additionally recognizes the importance of tackling global food insecurity for developing countries and the U.S. economy and national security.

Sen. Bob Casey said, “The need to address global hunger is an urgent foreign policy and national security priority. It is in the United States’ best interest to promote initiatives that work to eliminate the causes of food and nutrition insecurity.” Likewise, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act was passed in 2018, introduced by Sen. Bob Casey and Sen. Johnny Isakson. This bipartisan legislation ensures the extension of the Feed the Future initiative until 2023. For example, by 2018, the Feed the Future program helped more than 1.7 million households in 12 targeted countries.

His Support for Women in Afghanistan and People in Syria

To ensure the safety of women and girls in Afghanistan, Sen. Bob Casey introduced the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act. He also has been working to provide help for women who survived domestic violence or other crimes. Moreover, he has supported food and medical support for Syrian people in need because of the war.

As a representative of Pennsylvania, he has made several efforts to combat global poverty and hunger. In the interview by Penn Political Review, he said, “It is critical that U.S. foreign aid dollars be used efficiently and that they provide relief and promote opportunities for poor and underserved individuals and communities around the world.” It is therefore clear that Senator Casey’s efforts are critical in the fight against global poverty. Calling and emailing him to support these bills would be significant. As a result of helping these people, the U.S. can improve national security and economy.

Sayaka Ojima
Photo: Pixabay

YouthBuild International Act
Around the world, over 200 million youth live in extreme poverty, earning less than $2 a day. On February 12, 2020, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Representative for Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, introduced her sponsorship for the YouthBuild International Act. The Act aims to amend and improve upon the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. In doing so, it strives to program educational opportunities and employment training for underprivileged youth in developing countries.

The bill adds a new point to Section 105 of the indispensable Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Following the original Act, the bill adds: “Program to provide disadvantaged youth in developing countries with opportunities to receive education and employment skills.” Following this broad point, the text describes five distinct goals for the bill: economic self-sufficiency, community engagement, leadership development, affordable housing and improvement of facilities.

Goals of the Bill

To begin, the bill states its goal to make higher education and employment skill-training more accessible to underprivileged youth. By providing these opportunities, the bill aims to equip youth with economic self-sufficiency. Secondly, the bill promises to provide poverty-ridden youth with opportunities for “meaningful work and service to their communities.” Thereafter, the bill promises to enhance the development of marketable leadership skills for youth in low-income communities.

Next, the bill proposes the establishment of affordable and permanent housing initiatives for homeless and low-income families. The final section of the bill promises to improve the energy efficiency and overall quality of community facilities. This is meant to benefit nonprofit and public facilities that protect homeless and low-income families. Youth participants in the program will contribute directly to these efforts.

Domestic Success

The potential for the YouthBuild International Act is demonstrated by the successes of the United States YouthBuild program. That program provides educational, employment and leadership opportunities to thousands of young Americans who lack education and employment. As of 2019, 70% of YouthBuild participants earned a certificate or a degree, 62% improved their literacy or mathematical skills and 54% gained earned education or employment.

Next Steps

The positive results of the United States YouthBuild program prove how successful the YouthBuild International Act could be. However, the odds are not in this bill’s favor. Although Congresswoman Omar introduced it nearly six months ago, the bill has neither gained any cosponsors nor moved past the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The Act remains stagnant despite its immense potential for change. According to Skopos Labs, the bill only has a 3% chance of being enacted into law.

Although domestic poverty legislation is more pressing than ever, these issues must not put foreign aid on the back-burner. It is vital to bring awareness to under-supported aid legislation, especially when it can lead to economic self-sufficiency. Passing the YouthBuild International Act could significantly uplift millions of vulnerable communities and break the cycle of poverty for future generations. This will not happen unless more Americans contact their senators and representatives about the YouthBuild International Act and other under-prioritized aid legislation.

Stella Grimaldi
Photo: Flickr

American ExportsThroughout the past several decades, nations in Southeast Asia have seen significant declines in extreme poverty rates. As poverty has fallen and these nations have developed economically, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has become the United States’ fourth-largest trading partner. While the United States does rely heavily on this region for imports, trade with ASEAN also supports American exports and bolsters nearly 346,000 American jobs. The following five countries in Southeast Asia are critical trading partners and demonstrate the economic benefits that can coincide with a decrease in extreme poverty:

1. Malaysia

Malaysia has been extremely successful in reducing poverty throughout the past several decades. According to the United Nations, “… in 1970, 49.3% of Malaysian households were below the poverty line.” As of 2015, the figure had fallen to 0.4%. As poverty has fallen, Malaysia has also grown economically, developing profitable manufacturing, petroleum and natural gas industries.

As the country has reduced poverty and developed economically, it has become an important trading partner to the United States. The United States imports electrical machinery, tropical oils and rubber from Malaysia. It also exports soybeans, cotton and aircraft to the nation. In total, the trade between the two nations totals around $57.8 billion each year and supports nearly 73,000 American jobs.

2. Thailand

Thailand is another country that has seen impressive levels of poverty reduction in recent decades. According to The World Bank, poverty rates fell from around 65% in 1988 to under 10% in 2018. The nation has also evolved economically, developing large automotive and tourism industries as poverty rates have fallen.

Trade between the United States and Thailand has steadily grown, totaling $48.9 billion in 2018. When analyzing imports, the United States relied on Thailand for machinery, rice and precious metals. In terms of exports, the United States provided the nation with electrical machinery, mineral fuels and soybeans. In total, the exports to the nation supported nearly 72,000 American jobs. Additionally, exports to Thailand have been increasing in recent years, growing nearly 14.5% from 2017 to 2018.

3. Vietnam

Vietnam is perhaps one of the most astounding examples of poverty reduction and economic development. The World Bank reports that “the poverty headcount in Vietnam fell from nearly 60% to 20.7% in the past 20 years.” As it has done so, the nation developed one of the most rapidly growing middle classes in Southeast Asia, became a center for foreign investment and developed key industries in electronics, footwear and textiles.

While the United States has come to heavily rely on Vietnamese imports, Vietnam is also a rapidly growing market for American exports. In fact, American exports of goods to Vietnam increased by 246.9%, and American exports of services to the nation increased 110% since 2008. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, “U.S. exports of Goods and Services to Vietnam supported an estimated 54,000 American jobs in 2015.”

4. Indonesia

Though the nation still has significant progress to make, Indonesia is another nation that has seen a reduction in extreme poverty rates. Since 1990, the nation has managed to half its poverty rate and make significant economic advancements. Currently the largest economy in Southeast Asia, the nation has developed notable industries in petroleum, natural gas, textiles and mining.

Trade with the nation totaled around $32.9 billion in 2019. While the United States imported apparel and footwear from the nation, it also exported soybeans, aircraft and fuels to Indonesia. In total, American exports to Indonesia are growing, increasing 19.1% from 2017 to 2018 and supporting nearly 56,000 American jobs.

5. Philippines

While poverty is still an issue in the Philippines, it has seen significant declines in recent years. According to the World Bank, poverty fell from 26.6% to 21.6% from 2006 to 2015. The nation has also made significant improvements in developing industries outside of agriculture. While agriculture composed nearly one-third of the nation’s GDP in the 1970s, it currently represents 9.3%, split between an emerging industrial and service sector.

Trade with the nation currently provides $29.6 billion each year, and exports to the Philippines grew 3% from 2017 to 2018. Mainly, the Philippines relies on American exports for electrical machinery, soybean meal, and wheat. Overall, exports to the Philippines support an estimated 58,000 American jobs.

Affecting nearly one in five American jobs, international trade is a critical part of the American economy. As demonstrated by Southeast Asia, a reduction in global poverty rates not only contributes to global economic development but also supports the export industry and American jobs.

– Michael Messina
Photo: Pexels

Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act
Xinjiang is located in China’s northeast corner. Of its 19 million inhabitants, 8 million belong to the Uyghur Muslim minority. Since the days of Mao Zedong, the Chinese government has consistently persecuted certain religions, including Islam. Separatist sentiments among the Uyghur population and their strong Muslim identity have made them a problematic minority for the government’s vision of a
united, nonreligious China in Beijing. The spread of COVID-19 as well as the mass detention and forced labor of the Uyghur peoples illustrate the importance of properly enacting the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.

A History of Tension

The Uyghur peoples have a history of independence. In the 1940s, the Xinjiang region was independent for a short time. The Uyghur language, religion and culture are completely different from those of the Han Chinese. Since Xi Jinping became the General Secretary of China’s communist party, religious persecution against Muslims, Christians and other spiritual groups has increased. Ethnic tensions have intensified, as the Uyghurs are often painted as thugs, Chinese separatists and religious extremists.

Multiple Uyghur-led, anti-government acts of violence in 2014 initiated Jinping’s harsh crackdown on the ethnic minority group. This meant the mass detention of Uyghurs in re-education facilities, an effective and wide-ranging surveillance system and forced labor. The Chinese government states that these measures are part of its fight against religious extremism and terrorism. In 2017, Jinping claimed that “Xinjiang is in an active period of terrorist activities, intense struggle against separatism and painful intervention to treat this.”

Uyghur Detention Facilities

The Chinese government has indefinitely detained an estimated 1 million Uyghurs in so-called re-education camps since 2014. The objective of these camps is to turn the Muslim Uyghurs into loyal citizens of the Chinese nation. Re-education includes forcing detainees to learn Mandarin and attempting to strip them of their Islamic faith. 

Many Uyghurs in these camps must work in factories and other forms of labor against their will. Some global companies rely on products produced in Xinjiang. In 2012, Volkswagen came under heavy criticism for its decision to open a factory in the region’s capital, but the German car manufacturer is far from the only company to do business in Xinjiang. Uyghur forced labor is also critical to the supply chains of global brands such as Adidas and H&M.

The Perfect Environment for COVID-19 Transmission

Recent spikes in COVID-19 cases throughout Xinjiang, China have many human rights activists concerned that a massive outbreak could happen in the dense re-education camps and factories. Governments throughout the world have released inmates from tightly packed prisons to prevent COVID-19 transmission on a grand scale, but such a move by the Chinese government seems unlikely. Chinese nationalist hardliners may view an outbreak in these re-education facilities positively, based on their current treatment and detention of Uyghur Muslims. However, the United States can do something about this blatant violation of human rights through the aggressive application and enforcement of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.

The Reasons the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act is Important

Economic pressure from the U.S. government could help release many Uyghur people from detention centers, a measure that is especially important with a deadly outbreak of COVID-19 in the region. The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act gives Congress the authority to impose strategic sanctions and export restrictions on products produced in Xinjiang.  

The bill can encourage companies like Volkswagen to stop production in the area via sanctions, cutting off their access to the valuable U.S. market. This bill would thereby apply pressure on the Chinese government to change its policy of mass detention and forced labor of Uyghur Muslims. President Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act into law, giving himself the power to send Congress a list of “foreign individuals and entities” responsible for abusing the Uyghurs.

The U.S. has already sanctioned multiple Chinese companies over their actions in Xinjiang, but no sanctions have been levied on Western businesses that rely on forced Uyghur labor for their production or supply chains. Congress and President Trump have to power to more broadly and aggressively enact the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in order to institute real change in Xinjiang and avert the worsening of a human rights crisis.

 – Marcus Lawniczak
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in MadagascarMadagascar is an island located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of South Africa. Established as an independent country in 1960, Madagascar is known for its diverse culture of French, Indian, Chinese and Arabic influences, along with many others. The island is home to about 27 million people. The majority of these people are currently living in extreme poverty in Madagascar.

Poverty Rates in Madagascar

According to the World Bank, 75% of people in Madagascar are estimated to be living on less than $1.90 per day as of 2019. This number has decreased since the last official statistic in 2012 (when 77.6% were living in poverty in Madagascar). Still, this remains one of the highest poverty rates in the world. For comparison, in the U.S., 1.2% of people lived on $1.90 or less per day in 2016. According to data from 2015, 10% of the world’s population lives on $1.90 or less per day.

Additionally, in Madagascar, approximately 85% of homes do not have access to electricity. Almost one-half of children in Madagascar are likely to experience stunting as a result of undernutrition. One in 16 children dies before the age of five. As an island, Madagascar is at a high risk of natural disasters and climate change effects, experiencing an average of three natural disasters per year. These are responsible for approximately $400 million in damages.

Georgette Raharimalala is a Malagasy mother to three in Betafo, Madagascar. On average, women in Madagascar have five children. Raharimalala, known as Zety, primarily makes her money by working in the fields in her village with her children, buying and reselling peanuts and occasionally gardening where she can find space on her small property. “Life is very hard,” she said. “As soon as we make a bit of money, we buy food.”

However, poverty in Madagascar continues to improve. There are many programs in place to provide economic assistance to low-income countries like Madagascar.

World Bank’s IDA Program Helps the Economy

Zety is eligible for financial assistance from the International Development Association (IDA) on a bi-monthly basis. The IDA is part of the World Bank, which distributes loans and grants to 74 of the world’s poorest countries. The bank aims to improve local economies, reduce inequalities and improve living situations. This IDA program requires Zety to take her children to the wellness center in her village for a checkup once a month to ensure they are properly nourished. She also learns how to cook and provide proper diets for her children. Children in families receiving financial assistance must also be enrolled in (and remain in) school. As a result of the IDA program:

  • 1.3 million children have had access to free healthcare
  • 347 healthcare centers have been refurbished
  • Over 700,000 mothers and children have improved nutrition

The Support of the US

In addition to programs like the IDA, the United States supports Madagascar on its own. In fact, the U.S. is the largest donor country to Madagascar. It has provided foreign aid in the following areas to help reduce poverty in Madagascar:

  • Food: The U.S. was the largest donor of food following the severe drought on the island.
  • Development: The U.S. provides aid in areas that USAID refers to as “WASH,” or water, sanitation and health.
  • Biodiversity Conservation: Madagascar is known for its incredible diversity and has more unique species than the entirety of Africa, which U.S. aid supports.

The U.S. has dedicated $109.91 million to Madagascar for the year 2020, a small percentage of its total foreign aid budget.

While the struggle for basic healthcare, education and income is still prominent for many Malagasy citizens, conditions are continuing to improve for people like Zety and her children due to a combination of national and international policy and aid efforts. Though there is always room for improvement, poverty in Madagascar is being reduced and fewer are living with less than $1.90 per day.

Sydney Bazilian
Photo: Unsplash

Male role modelsWhat is the most effective way to fight global poverty? That is the question people all around the world have been asking for decades. Some commonly known solutions include building wells to provide people with clean water, teaching farmers how to grow more food, building schools and small medical clinics, and giving communities access to shelter and vaccinations. But did you know that the solution could be as simple as ensuring the presence of positive male role models in children’s lives? Recent studies support this claim and discuss opportunities for youth to connect with positive male role models in their communities.

The Problem

According to the United States Census Bureau, more than 1 in 4 children in the United States grow up without father figures in their households. This is equivalent to 19.7 million children in the country. These children are 4 times more likely to experience poverty and 2 times more likely to drop out of school. They are also more likely to commit crimes and go to prison, consume drugs and alcohol, become victims of abuse and violence, and experience depression and other mental illnesses. These consequences are likely to continue into adulthood and impact future generations of these families. The importance of male role models in children’s lives cannot be understated.

How Can Parents Help?

There are many ways to connect children with positive male role models:

  • Encourage children to get involved in extracurriculars like sports with a male coach or mentor. Many of these coaches and mentors dedicate their time because they are passionate about working with children. This passion will inevitably captivate youth and help them grow into better people.
  • Expand social circles to include positive men in the community. This can include distant family members, a kind-hearted neighbor or the father of a child’s friend. It’s that easy!
  • Request male teachers for children at school. This will not only allow the child to see men in their community in typically nurturing, female-dominated roles, but it will also expose them to teaching styles that may differ from those of their female teachers.
  • Research initiatives that aim to connect children to positive male role models in the community. There are so many people who are excited to work with children. All it takes is a simple Google search!

Examples of Initiatives

  • An initiative that helps connect children to male role models in their communities is the Uncle Project in Australia. As part of this project, men in the community volunteer their time to interact with boys ages 6 through 12 through sports, board games and treasure hunts as well as dinner discussions in which they delve into deep and meaningful topics. This inevitably helps young boys grow into better men.
  • Another related organization is the National Fatherhood Initiative, which helps fathers become better parents. In addition to training 34,815 fathers and distributing 9,407,021 skill-building resources, it has helped similar organizations reach more people across the United States.
  • There is also the annual Fathers Walk in Ohio, in which fathers are encouraged to walk their children to school and spend the day participating in fun-filled activities with their children. If a parent is unavailable because of work, they are encouraged to find an alternative male role model to take their place. This helps children spend time with and learn from positive men in their community.

The findings of these studies and information about how parents can surround their children with positive male role models in their communities aim to enlighten readers about the important role of men in the lives of children. These role models will not only slow the spread of poverty but will also help young boys become successful and healthy men.

Rida Memon
Photo: Pixnio

USAID Helps India Combat COVID-19
India remains one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign assistance, much of it being economic. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), one of the leading global aid agencies, the U.S. committed $2.9 million to strengthen India’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. USAID created a health system strengthening project implemented by Jhpiego, a global nonprofit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. The project intends to develop risk communication materials concerning COVID-19 and its potential spread to communities in 12 Indian states. Funding during the pandemic from USAID helps India provide care and treatment for those affected, safety equipment for healthcare workers and support for local communities so that they can contain and slow the spread of the virus.

USAID Helps India by Providing Supplies

USAID shipped 100 new compact and deployable ventilators to India to treat patients across the country. The units have a value of almost $1.2 million. USAID is also providing support packages that include equipment for the ventilators and additional medical supplies, technical assistance and service plans to respond to India’s urgent needs. USAID is working with organizations within India such as the Indian Red Cross Society to ensure that the ventilators are transported safely and securely to health care facilities around the country.

Partnerships for Affordable Healthcare Access and Longevity (PAHAL)

In coordination with the Government of India, USAID is giving funds to the Partnerships for Affordable Healthcare Access and Longevity (PAHAL). PAHAL is an innovative project by USAID and IPE Global that serves to promote health financing models and provide support for improving access to quality and affordable healthcare solutions for urban poor communities in India. PAHAL reduced healthcare costs and reached more than 10 million urban poor in India. The project’s sustainable development goals have helped to mitigate the negative health and socioeconomic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. PAHAL also improved economic growth in targeted areas and reduced income and gender inequalities faced by many cities’ poorest communities.

With the PAHAL project, USAID supports the National Health Authority’s establishment of a financing facility that can utilize and transfer private sector resources to health facilities across India that are enrolled in the country’s health insurance, positively impacting around 500 million poor and vulnerable people. PAHAL’s widespread, positive impact is one of the primary ways USAID helps India combat COVID-19.

The Partnership of the US and India

The U.S. has been the world’s biggest bilateral assistance provider in public health. Over the last two decades, the U.S. government provided more than $2.8 billion in total health assistance. USAID’s additional funding to India during the coronavirus pandemic is a testament to the two nations’ enduring partnership and commitment to global health. This new grant will support the World Health Organization’s various initiatives in India. By giving quality tools to local communities, USAID helped slow the spread and severity of COVID-19. USAID’s action stems not only from the relationship between the U.S. and India but also the realization that “an infectious-disease threat anywhere can become a threat everywhere.”

– Mia McKnight
Photo: Pexels

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations oversees all foreign policy legislation and foreign aid programs in the United States Senate. It is one of the essential parts of the government in terms of shaping foreign policy. The influence of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations played an instrumental role in such historical legislation as the Marshall Plan in 1948, which provided economic aid to Western Europe in the aftermath of World War II. Its corresponding committee in the House of Representatives is the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The Committee on Foreign Relations currently has 22 members, including chairman Jim Risch, a Republican Senator for Idaho. Here are six facts about this key U.S. Senate committee.

6 Facts About the Influence of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

  1. It has a subcommittee that oversees the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). One of the seven subcommittees of this Senate Committee is the Subcommittee on State Department and USAID Management, International Operations and Bilateral International Development. USAID is the leading government agency that administers foreign aid for socioeconomic development and disaster relief to nations worldwide, making it one of the most critical organizations in reducing global poverty. This subcommittee reviews the budget and oversees the general operations of USAID and the State Department. It can guide the ways that USAID uses its funding. Therefore, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ influence has a significant impact on the U.S.’s distribution of foreign aid.
  2. It is one of the oldest Senate committees. Congress created committees in 1816, establishing 10 standing committees in the Senate. Out of these original 10, only three still exist—the Committee on Finance, the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Foreign Relations. The influence of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has helped shape foreign policy for nearly the U.S.’s entire history.
  3. It approved the Global Poverty Act of 2007. The Global Poverty Act required the president to create and implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce poverty around the world. The plan would also have to address extreme poverty, including reducing the proportion of people who live on less than $1 a day. The committee approved this bill, but it never received a vote in the Senate, and therefore the bill never passed. This demonstrates the limits of the committee’s influence.
  4. It has many influential senators as members. A wide range of famous Republican and Democrat senators have served on the committee. Currently, its membership includes Republic Mitt Romney of Utah, Republican Ted Cruz of Texas and Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey. Joe Biden served as chair of the committee for several years during the 2000s, including when the committee approved the Global Poverty Act. High-profile senators such as these, who are famous on a national level, bring publicity to the committee, which can increase the Senate committee’s influence.
  5. Some members have introduced legislation to increase funding for the international response to COVID-19. In early May 2020, eight Democrat senators from the Committee on Foreign Relations introduced the COVID-19 International Response and Recovery Act. This legislation would provide $9 billion in funding to help the U.S. lead international efforts to contain the pandemic. These senators, led by ranking committee member Bob Menendez, believe that the U.S. needs to do more to work with other governments and international organizations to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  6. The chairman and other members have introduced legislation to investigate international institutions. In early May 2020, chairman Risch and four other Republican senators from the committee proposed the Multilateral Aid Review Act of 2020. This bill would create a task force to investigate and create a report on 38 multilateral institutions that receive aid from the U.S. The institutions include the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The task force would report how well each of these organizations performs their missions and serves the U.S. and global interests.

Many factors and institutions shape the foreign policy of the United States. Throughout the U.S.’s history, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has affected how the country has interacted with the rest of the world. The ideology of its members can significantly impact the issues the Senate Committee and subcommittees focus on, where specific funding goes and what legislation is introduced into Congress. The influence of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations affects the U.S. and many international agencies, proving its significant importance in the fight to reduce global poverty.

– Gabriel Guerin
Photo: Pixabay

On March 27, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law, which authorized more than $2 trillion to combat COVID-19 and its various economic and health effects. Of that amount, over $1 billion was allotted to the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Here are some of the specifics:

  • The Department of State received $678 million. The State Department has been working to prevent the global spread of COVID-19, to stabilize the economies and to ensure the security of other countries. The State Department has also funded and worked closely with numerous international NGOs, including UNICEF and the World Food Program, to help those across the world in need of supplies and medical assistance.

  • Of that $678 million, $350 million was allotted specifically for migration and refugee assistance. Under the CARES Act, the State Department is tasked with working closely with NGOs like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross to prepare and respond to any outbreaks of COVID-19 among refugee populations.

  • USAID, specifically its International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account, received $258 million. Independent of the federal government, USAID is one of the largest aid agencies in the world. Here is how USAID and its IDA works to help the world’s poor.

How USAID Helps the World’s Poor

The IDA works to provide humanitarian assistance to people in other nations affected by natural disasters and emergencies. It provides basic necessities and resources like food, water, shelter and health care. The IDA also ensures that refugees and people fleeing conflict are able to receive humanitarian aid wherever they are.

More generally, USAID works to promote development in other countries across the globe. This development could be a reduction in poverty through humanitarian assistance. It could also come in the form of political change to ensure stability and economic prosperity, as USAID works to promote democracy.

The $258 million it received through the CARES Act will go directly towards providing other nations with medical and essential aid. The funding will benefit frontline workers in other countries and provide them with the medical tools and resources necessary to treat patients. Funding will also go towards providing those in need with food, shelter, water and other necessary supplies.

The world’s poor have been severely affected by COVID-19 and its economic and social implications. Millions have lost their jobs, and millions more have lost their homes due to their inability to pay rent, such as migrant workers living in India. USAID will provide direct relief to the poor and help them recover physically and financially.

How Foreign Aid Helps the U.S.

Providing foreign aid to countries around the world benefits the U.S. in numerous ways. First, foreign aid ensures national security. USAID works with other governments to create political, social and economic stability by promoting a more democratic political system and lifting people out of poverty. Stability in other nations is critical to U.S. national security.

Foreign aid can also strengthen the market for American-made goods. When people are lifted out of poverty and have the financial ability to purchase goods, there will be an increased demand for goods in general. American businesses and the economy will benefit, as U.S. trade constitutes significant portions of trade in numerous countries around the world. Promoting a stable economy with able buyers is critical to maintaining and increasing the strength of the U.S. economy.

The CARES Act could potentially save lives worldwide through direct medical aid and humanitarian assistance. USAID is working to equip medical workers around the world with the proper equipment and resources necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19. The CARES Act also provides funding to directly assist refugee populations without legal status in their current home. The U.S. aims to be a leader in solving this global crisis and the CARES Act could be a significant step in the right direction.

– Harry Yeung
Photo: Flickr

8 Facts About Education in the Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands, born out of colonization and slavery, consists of many different cultures today. This cultural diversity represents the torn history that the Virgin Islands experienced centuries ago with the arrival of European explorers such as Christopher Columbus. The peoples of the U.S. Virgin Islands reflect the many cultures of the West African, Danish, Spanish, Irish and German people. Here are 8 facts about education in the Virgin Islands.

8 Facts About Education in The Virgin Islands

  1. The Virgin Islands education system provides public and private education to all residents from preschool to college. The U.S. Virgin Islands Public University has over 43 degree programs for students to excel in. Additionally, the education system focuses on preparing citizens for employment.
  2. The territory spends 7.5 percent of its Gross National Product (GNP) on education. The Virgin Islands care strongly about supplying their citizens with the education necessary to make an impact on the world.
  3. The U.S. Virgin Islands is a territory of the United States. Because of this, it receives federal entitlements as well as beneficial educational programs, including Head Start, nutrition programs and Upward Bound.
  4. The program Upward Bound provides fundamental support for students to succeed in high school and prepare for college. This program serves lower-income and first-generation students, whose families may have a difficult time helping them prepare for college, as they never attended and/or completed college themselves.
  5. A project known as From Farm to School communicates with local farmers to bring students in public schools locally grown, fresh produce. From Farm to School has supported school gardens to enrich students’ learning and promote healthy eating habits. At this time, From Farm to School has constructed school gardens in 50 percent of public schools across the Virgin Islands.
  6. The Virgin Islands must comply with the education law which states equal learning opportunities for all students, including those with disabilities. A court case in 2007 – Nadine Jones v. the Government of the Virgin Islands – changed the way the Department of Education operated forever. Nadine Jones, a student with a disability was not receiving free and required services to aid in her learning. As a result of this case, the Department of Education was required to conform more closely to the educational law of the U.S. They have to provide free public schools to all students and be inclusive to students like Nadine Jones.
  7. Schools in the Virgin Islands such as Charlotte Amalie High School are still recovering from back-to-back hurricanes from over a year and a half ago. Students and teachers are still struggling after hurricanes Irma and Maria ravaged their school facilities. Consequently, this makes daily school life difficult to thrive in. Students are often forced to eat in crowded hallways due to overpopulated schools and destroyed cafeterias.
  8. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided over $1.4 billion for reparations after the two hurricanes struck. Approximately $874 million went to emergy work, including debris removal, while the rest is designated for combating the damage to the education system. FEMA’s support has allowed for the reconstruction of many school facilities that were destroyed by storms.

These 8 facts about education in the Virgin Islands help illuminate the successes of education initiatives as well as some recent struggles caused by natural disasters.  The U.S. Virgin Islands is a territory that cares deeply about its education system, however, and strong efforts in the aftermath of the hurricanes are helping get students back on track to a high-quality education.

– William Mendez
Photo: Flickr