BUILD ActThe Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development Act (BUILD) was created to allocate private-sector dollars to assist developing countries. The BUILD Act would create The United States International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC). The budget would be set at $60 million, which is nearly double Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s (OPIC) current funds. There will be a focus on low income and lower-middle income countries and assistance to turn them into market economies.


The importance of the BUILD Act is that it allows the USIDFC the opportunity to: 1) make loans, 2) obtain equity or financial interest in entities, 3) provide reassurance to private sector entities and qualifying countries, 4) provide technical assistance, 5) conduct special projects, 6) crate enterprise funds, 7) issue obligations and 8) charge service fees.

The BUILD Act was passed by the House on 17 July 2018. The vote was spearheaded by Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance, Rep. Adam Smith and Rep. Ted Yoho. The importance of The BUILD Act is recognized by both parties because it recommits the United States to be supportive of developing countries.

According to Rep. Adam Smith, the United States must “take an all in approach to our foreign assistance.” Programs like The BUILD Act are essential because they promote “health, peace and stability that are vital to our national security.” Rep. Ted Yoho believes The BUILD Act is a huge step towards the United States becoming more effective with foreign aid. The end goal of the BUILD Act is to take countries that are struggling with extreme poverty from “aid to trade.”

The importance of the BUILD Act for developing countries can be seen in 5 major areas:

  1. Building infrastructure
  2. Increasing obtainability of electricity
  3. Starting businesses
  4. Job creation
  5. Reducing the need for foreign aid from The United States

Helping Economies Around the World

Developing countries have difficulty attracting the investors that are needed to begin creating economic growth. In order to assist these countries and gain the advantages of helping, The U.S should be encouraging the private sector to invest. That is where The BUILD Act comes into play. This act will allow developing countries the opportunity to get out of poverty and accomplish becoming self-sufficient.  

The act will bring billions of dollars in private-sector investments to fight extreme poverty along with making it easier for American business to work in developing countries. If an American investor would like to have a business in a developing country, but the banks think that could be too risky of an investment, The USIDFC would be available to provide assistance; subsequently, helping Americans while creating more jobs and helping those dealing with extreme poverty.

The BUILD Act is an important piece of legislation that both parties feel will be a benefit to both our economy and that of developing countries in need. Countries facing extreme poverty will now have the capability to become self-sufficient.

– Olivia Hodges
Photo: U.S. Dept. of Defense

Combatting Malaria Threat Important for Poverty AlleviationDespite the progress being made in improving global healthcare, malaria still remains a pressing concern. After HIV, it is becoming one of the most ubiquitous diseases in war-torn and impoverished countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The impacts of malaria can be especially debilitating for the poor. Even though the threat of malaria has decreased during the past 15 years, it still belongs to the group of 20 ‘’neglected tropical diseases’’.

Malaria is a disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite that is secreted by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. Anopheles mosquitos often lay their eggs in stagnant water, after which these eggs become adult mosquitos. The disease is prevalent in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene facilities, making it especially common and potentially dangerous in refugee camps.

The WHO estimated in 2015 that nearly half the world’s population is vulnerable to malaria, with a significant proportion concentrated mainly in sub-Saharan African countries. In 2015 alone, there were more than 222 million cases of malaria recorded, with a death toll of nearly 492,000. It was discovered that there is a link between climate change and the threat of malaria and other diseases. Global warming is resulting in an increase in global temperatures, which creates a more favorable environment for Anopheles mosquitos.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a renowned organization spearheading development funding and global health initiatives, has spoken about the U.S. budget cuts to foreign aid and healthcare. Achieving further progress in countering the malaria threat will be hindered by these cuts. Their analysis estimated that this decrease would lead to an additional 5 million deaths by 2030.

Fortunately, UNICEF noted that between 2000 and 2005, the malaria mortality rate has actually fallen by around 37 percent globally. Artemisinin-based therapies have been quite successful in reducing the harmful impacts of Plasmodium falciparum, one of the most deadly forms of malaria.

Many of the countries most affected by malaria are stepping up their efforts to combat the disease. Rwanda is treating the malaria threat with insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying and the use of artemisinin-based drugs.

Nigeria alone accounts for nearly 25 percent of the malaria cases in Africa, which is one of the leading causes of premature death in the country. The Global Fund is working in Nigeria to treat the record levels of malaria cases and control the spread of the disease. WHO is also scaling up its operations in addressing the malaria threat in the country.

The recent malaria prevention drive in South Africa reaffirmed its support for alleviating the malaria threat in the country. The initiative is a collaborative agreement between South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. The high incidence of diseases like HIV in South Africa often exacerbates the impact of malaria, making it particularly important to be addressed.

Working on preventive and mitigation efforts for malaria will go a long way towards addressing the rampant spread of the disease. The progress currently being made in reducing the malaria threat will yield successful results in the future.

Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Flickr