As of 2013, 767 million men and women worldwide live under the global poverty line. Nearly 11 percent of the world’s population still struggle to make ends meet with less than $1.90 per person per day. According to recent World Bank statistics, much of this community is densely populated in sub-Saharan Africa. This region touts over half of the global impoverished community.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is one of the many organizations looking to make strides with this epidemic. Launched by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, USAID aims to lead the U.S. national effort to abolish socioeconomic inequality.
This agency has instituted multiple initiatives geared towards combating widespread global poverty. Most notably, the U.S. Global Initiative Lab, instituted in 2014, works in conjunction with prominent businesses and academic institutions to address preeminent wealth disparity issues through a wide network of pooled resources.
These cornerstone partnerships offer advanced research and development capabilities which would otherwise be unavailable to one single entity. The U.S. Global Initiative Lab has also recently sought to implement technological advances in these poverty-stricken communities. The Lab has labored to effectively reallocate funds to provide the necessary groundwork for these actions to take place.
One USAID administrator, Rajiv Shah, expresses optimism when discussing these changes in a 2014 interview with Time Magazine. “[…] if we could get and invent new seeds, new mobile technology, and open new data centers to help farmers connect their crop prices and understand weather variability, we can do something transformational […].”
In 2016, USAID requested a budget of $50.1 billion to carry out development activities. This lump sum included a $35.2 billion base request to directly support people and global health programs while bolstering American U.N. leadership.
In its Congressional budget justification, USAID recognized the need for “accountability, efficiency, and effectiveness in the use of taxpayer dollars.” Additionally, the agency directly pointed out the need for budget allocation to African programs.
This request specifically outlines the need to secure policies concerning democracy, education and economic growth. USAID points to democratic gains in Nigeria as well as political transitions throughout the continent as vital measures towards infrastructural improvement.
These initiatives illustrate a refreshing sense of awareness on the part of USAID. Blindly throwing money at an issue yields ineffective and temporary solutions. Dire situations require resilience and thoughtful action.
USAID’s mission statement calls for “democratic societies to realize their potential.” The organization does not look for immediate solutions to complicated problems. More accurately, USAID works to promote a stable environment which can cultivate economic prosperity for years to come.
USAID believes actions like theirs may go to “define the majority of the history written about our era.” Time will show the scope of the impact USAID can have in the fight against global poverty.
– Brady Rippon