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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

Feed the FutureThe country and the planet continue to grow more densely populated. For this reason, an increase in resource production must occur. By 2050, the global population is expected to grow to nine million, making food security for all more difficult. By 2050, agricultural production needs to increase by 60 percent to have enough to guarantee food security. Currently, around 800 million people around the world go to bed hungry each night.

Feed the Future is an initiative orchestrated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with the goal of bringing world hunger to an end despite the rate of population growth. USAID defines food security as “having, at all times, both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life.” Poverty is cited as the leading cause of food insecurity by USAID and is one of the main focuses of Feed the Future’s mission.

Working hand in hand with mostly female smallholder farmers, Feed the Future encourages increased production in farming to not only increase food production but also to provide a steady income for farmers and agricultural workers all over the world. By partnering directly with governments, donor organizations, the private sector and civil society, Feed the Future ensures that the goals of the community stay at the forefront of the organization’s efforts.

Positive progress in recent years has geared Feed the Future toward continued success. Some of the achievements include enabling 18 million children to improve their nutritional options, aiding 1.2 million small and medium-sized business in securing loans, and supporting producers as they grow their new agricultural sales by $800 million. The program also receives bipartisan support from Congress which helps ensure continued advancement.

Former President Barack Obama signed the Global Food Security Act of 2016 so that nations like Bangladesh, Ghana, Guatemala, Cambodia, Rwanda, Nepal and more can empower their populations nutritionally and economically.

In Nigeria, Feed the Future is training 4,000 farmers to use higher quality seeds, safer pesticides and crop-specific fertilizer to ensure better farming habits and higher crop yield.

Feed the Future and other similar efforts are paving the way for a future free of hunger and poverty. Efforts to invest in the global future creates better cooperation between nations and an overall increase in economic benefit for all involved.

Aaron Walsh

Photo: Flickr

Feed the FutureThe White House Summit on Global Development opened with a panel analyzing Feed the Future, a government initiative focused on improving global food security.

In July 2016, President Obama signed the Global Food Security Act of 2016. This shows that increasing growth in the developing world and eradicating poverty are national security interests for the U.S.

The Obama Administration has shown dedication to improving global food security by implementing government organizations to address the various problems of global food security. One of those government organizations is Feed the Future.

Feed the Future began in 2009 and has focused on improving the agriculture industry of partner countries and nutrition to combat poverty and hunger. Their approach is as follows:

  1. Selection
    Nineteen countries have been selected based on five criteria:

    • Level of need
    • Opportunity for partnership
    • Potential for agricultural growth
    • Opportunity for regional synergy
    • Resource availability
  2. Strategic Planning
    The selected countries and the U.S. work together to make plans to create a more sustainable society through policy reform and domestic and foreign investments.
  3. Implementation
    The U.S. makes core investments in the countries’ agricultural sectors, as well as women, nutrition and agricultural infrastructure.
  4. Review and Scaling Up
    Progress reports of Feed the Future programming are published annually and reviewed so that programs can be improved upon for the future.

In 2015, Feed the Future helped over 9 million farmers gain access to improved technologies and management practices. This increased agricultural productivity and boosted the agricultural economy by more than $800 million. The organization also improved the nutrition of over 17 million children under the age of five.

In September 2015, many countries — including the U.S. — adopted a set of 17 goals to ensure a sustainable planet in the future. These goals, which are expected to be achieved by the year 2030 include, but are not limited to, no poverty, no hunger, good health and well-being, quality education and gender equality. Feed the Future is a vital part of the U.S. government’s role in achieving these goals.

As the Obama administration comes to a close, one can only hope that government initiatives like Feed the Future will continue to prosper and take significant steps towards ending poverty and hunger.

Ugochi Ihenatu
Photo: Flickr

Obama
President Obama spoke about the importance of advancing global development at the White House Summit on Global Development this past July. He focused his speech on development as a “key pillar” of his foreign policy and reassured that it would remain so for the next president.

The Obama Administration has funded global projects such as reducing poverty and encouraging global economic growth and stability. These programs add to former President George W. Bush’s efforts to focus on fighting global disease through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

According to the official White House website, Obama’s U.S. Global Development Policy that he issued in 2010 was the first time that “global development was elevated, on par with diplomacy and defense as a core pillar” of U. S. policy. Following Bush, Obama and his administration have continued to focus on solving global issues throughout his time in office.

The Washington Post cites the Obama Administration’s Feed the Future program as one of its successes. The agriculture-based program supported 9 million farmers and increased their sales by more than $800 million. The Global Food Security Act will systematize the program so that its impact extends long past the Obama Administration.

Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor, wrote in a Huffington Post article about why it is so important that Obama is dedicated to development. “Development is not a charity – it is a prudent investment in the security and prosperity of us all,” she wrote. Development is an investment that helps to stabilize global conditions and to create opportunities.

Rice wrote that Obama’s White House Summit on Global Development will help to support global economic growth, to improve food security and nutrition, to improve global health, and to invest in leadership. The programs already supporting these causes, like the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and Feed the Future, will all help to eradicate poverty and secure a prosperous future through the continued support of global leaders and organizations.

Obama’s White House Summit on Global Development will hopefully mobilize already existing aid and development programs of all kinds. With goals to advance development in a variety of ways, the Summit will hopefully help to expedite poverty reduction efforts and stabilize global conditions.

Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr

Health AidNot all aid is created equal. In the fight against global poverty, ensuring sufficient funds for aid programs is only half the battle. The other half is ensuring that aid is results-oriented, transparent, expedient and cost-effective.

During the second High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Paris in 2005, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries formulated the Paris Declaration. This declaration was meant to set benchmarks for how to measure the five key categories of effective aid: ownership, alignment, harmonization, results and mutual accountability.

While these five categories are intended to measure the effectiveness of all kinds of aid, they are particularly pertinent to health aid. Developing public health infrastructure in poorer countries is the “gift that keeps on giving,” ideally continuing to serve local populations well after aid has ceased. Thus, a robust public health outcome is an ideal metric to judge the quality of aid using the five categories of the Paris Declaration.

1. Ownership

Ownership, according to the Paris Declaration, involves partner countries exercising “effective leadership over their development policies and strategies.” This category is a measurement of how much aid recipients are involved in developing and executing programs that actually take advantage of the aid they are receiving. Aid strategies have traditionally assumed that once a country reaches middle-income status, it will have sufficient resources and self-interest to invest in public health, but unfortunately, this is not always the case.

For example, Nigeria is technically a middle-income country, but it spends less on public health than Rwanda, which a low-income country. Health aid can really only be considered effective if countries take ownership of health programs that outlive donor support as the country transitions into middle-income status.

Ownership is especially important given a recent estimate by the World Health Organization that predicts that in the next few decades, there will be a global health workforce shortage of up to 12.9 million. Aid programs need to ensure that recipients are developing adequate long-term strategies, especially when it comes to investing in health training and education.

2. Alignment

The dimension of alignment measures how well aid matches up with recipient strategies for dispersal and development. Development experts often criticize “tied” aid. This is aid that is contingent on the recipient procuring health products from the donor country, using their distribution infrastructure, employing foreign personnel or involving some other condition which is often not the most cost-effective or desirable for the recipient. Alignment essentially means “untying” aid to make sure that it aligns closely with the national development strategy of the recipient country.

A topical example of the alignment of health aid in the Global Food Security Act of 2015. This bill, currently introduced to the House and awaiting consideration, encourages local procurement of food aid for U.S. aid programs (among other things). Traditionally, food aid dispersal from the U.S. has been tied, requiring that a certain percentage of that aid be procured from the U.S. and dispersed using the U.S. merchant marine.

However, this bill seeks to do away with those requirements and favors recipient-country producers. This encourages the growth of local agriculture and health aid infrastructure, rather than out-competing them. Additionally, local procurement is faster, and in the event of a humanitarian emergency, recipient populations would not have to wait as long for foreign aid to reach them.

3. Harmonization

Harmonization involves cutting down on the plurality of programs that may have the same goal yet interfere and undermine each other. An aid recipient country may be host to dozens of organizations or programs that target public health outcomes yet do not communicate with each other, thus creating redundancies or inefficiency.

Harmonization is especially critical to public health, more so in emergencies. Currently, there is no standard system whereby donors can track and share how much and to where health aid is going, making it difficult to determine where it is most needed. The recent Ebola epidemic was a particularly disastrous indication of the need for better logistics and donor coordination; it is difficult to tell if health aid has even reached a recipient population, much less if it is redundant, or necessary.

4. Results

Just as it is important to harmonize aid efforts, tracking the progress of health programs has also been an ongoing challenge for donors and recipients. Health aid, despite good intentions, can be totally ineffective when it isn’t results-oriented. Tracking public health outcomes generally involves better data collection and census practices, which can be incredibly difficult to implement in developing countries that lack basic infrastructure.

Very recently, the Girls Count Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives. This act directs the Secretary of State as well as the United States Agency for International Aid and Development (USAID) to work with developing countries to build adequate civil registration systems as well as create economic and social policies that are deliberately inclusive of women and girls. The idea is that better demographic data and inclusive policy can help traditionally marginalized populations (such as women) take advantage of existing social safety nets. Additionally, better demographic data would lead to more effective health aid, as donors often lack access to accurate census information and thus may be unaware of vulnerable populations, or unable to determine the impact of aid.

5. Mutual Accountability

The final category calls for recipients and donors to exercise “mutual accountability and transparency in the use of development resources.” This emphasis on accountability stems from a history of aid inefficiencies due to a lack of transparency, or even outright corruption in recipient countries. For example, millions of dollars in aid money were simply pocketed by corrupt dictator Mobutu Sese Seko of the Republic of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) during the ’70s and ’80s.

Conversely, donor countries must be transparent about where aid flows are going in order to provide recipient countries (as well as other donors) with accurate information they can present to their citizens. In general, developing genuine partnerships between donors and recipients is crucial in ensuring that resulting health and development programs are effective and long-lasting.

Derek Marion

Sources: Reuters, Devex, Partners in Health, OECD
Photo: OECD

reduce global poverty
The United States has one of the biggest economies in the world, yet spends only a small portion of its money on ending global poverty. As one of the most influential agenda-setters and biggest economic and military forces, the U.S. must accept its responsibility to the global project to reduce global poverty. There are several ways the U.S. is already tackling the issue, but it could certainly do more. These three specific methods are already in place, but need to be expanded upon in order to allow the U.S. to fulfill its potential in humanitarian aid. To play its role in reducing global poverty, the U.S. government must…

1. Pass bills.

Bills like the Electrify Africa Act and the Global Food Security Act are crucial to ending global poverty, and rely entirely on the U.S. people and government to be a success.

Take Electrify Africa for example. This bill would help provide electricity to 50 million people in Africa. This progress is essential for providing better security, health care and housing for families in need and is crucial for ending global poverty and inequality. The U.S. government is in an important role to make sure this step is taken. Luckily, the Electrify Africa Act has already seen huge success on the floor of the House of Representatives and was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. Now it moves into the Senate, where it has already been read and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. The U.S. government has a responsibility to pass bills like this one in order to work toward ending global poverty.

2. Give more funding to foreign aid.

When it comes to the amount given as foreign aid, the U.S. ranks 19th in the world. This is simply unacceptable. The U.S. has one of the most powerful economies, yet it ranks 11th of 22 major donors for quality of foreign aid. Only 1.5 percent of the federal budget goes toward international affairs, as compared to 23.6 percent on social security or 18.4 percent on defense spending.

In order to effectively end global poverty, the U.S. must increase their foreign aid, specifically by increasing the budget of the U.S. Agency on International Development (USAID), which oversees all international humanitarian efforts the U.S. is involved in. This money is used to assist developing nations by fighting endemic disease, providing emergency aid after natural disasters and implementing agricultural programs to increase food security. The more aid that goes to these projects, the more successful they can be in ending global poverty and treating its side effects.

3. Work with other governments and international organizations.

The U.S. does have domestic issues to worry about, and as a result, cannot logically put all its energy into fighting global poverty. But it can work with and support international organizations that do just that. In the recent past, USAID, which is the U.S. powerhouse for international assistance projects, has worked with UNICEF and other international aid organizations on programs that tackle issues like poor nutrition in African countries and social development in Nigeria. U.S. collaboration with international organizations through the USAID allows the U.S. to have a role in reducing global poverty. The U.S. government should facilitate more of this type of partnership between USAID and other international aid organizations in order to live up to its obligation to work toward reducing poverty around the world.

Foreign aid and humanitarian assistance are complicated issues when taken in the context of the entire U.S. government, but it is crucial that the U.S. does not forget its responsibility to ending world poverty and continue to work toward this goal. The U.S., as one of the world’s most powerful nations, has the ability to make a significant difference in the world on extreme poverty through several methods and it is our job to ensure that our government stays on track toward achieving this mission.

– Caitlin Thompson

Sources: Leadership News, USAID, Center for Global Development, The concord Coalition, Oxfam America, The White House, Govtrack, Congress.gov, ONE, Vanguard
Photo: WPR

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Pandemics have no borders.

The Borgen Project’s top priority is to ensure a global response to the COVID-19 crisis. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is crucial to combating extreme global poverty as it directly affects food security, WASH services and infectious diseases such as Tuberculosis. Now, more than ever, it is time to put pressure on Congress to recommit to U.S. leadership in global health security in order to defeat COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics.

Borgen Project

How to use this page: Here, you’ll find our legislative priorities for the 117th Congress (2021-2022). The first link under each issue contains a downloadable document that gives an overview of each bill. The other links will provide additional data, analysis and instructions on how to email Congress. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email [email protected]


Top Legislative Priorities

Coronavirus Response

The Problem: The latest relief package including $11 billion for foreign assistance funding approved by Congress is a critical step in the global response to COVID-19. However, at the current rate of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, low-income countries may not receive the vaccine for years to come, increasing the possibility of COVID-19 variants and extending the detrimental effects of the pandemic. For example, due to the pandemic’s impact on the global food system, 2020 and 2021 hunger levels could reach the highest they’ve been in over a decade. Additional resources are required now in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and the evolving secondary consequences of the pandemic.

The Solution: An investment in global health security is an investment in U.S. national security. That is why Congress must allocate funding to international assistance to fight COVID-19. This funding is essential to U.S. leadership in combating the pandemic globally and to protecting the health, security and economic interests of all Americans.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the COVAX initiative and further foreign assistance funding in any subsequent COVID-19 relief packages in order to combat the pandemic globally.”

International Affairs Budget

The Problem: The approval of $62.7 billion in funding for FY21 marks the fourth year that Congress rejected the proposed cuts to America’s development and diplomacy programs, demonstrating the importance of strengthening U.S. global leadership. While we celebrate these victories, more work remains to address the gaps in funding, especially as 265 million people globally are at risk of starvation due to the secondary socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to protect the International Affairs Budget.”


Global Health Legislation

MINDS Act

The Problem: According to the 2016 Global Burden Disease Study, 1 billion people suffered from mental health conditions or substance use disorders worldwide, and 75% of people living in low-and middle-income countries with mental health conditions did not receive any mental health treatment whatsoever. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the risk factors for mental health conditions globally, especially affecting children, as pandemic-related school closures have increased exposure to higher risks of trauma such as abuse, neglect and food insecurity.

The Solution:  Investments in mental health programs, including those specifically focused on the wellbeing of children, can help break the cycle of poverty abroad. The Mental Health in International Development and Humanitarian Settings (MINDS) Act is the first bill to address mental health and psychosocial support in U.S. global development assistance.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the MINDS Act.”

Global Health Security Act

The Problem: As more than 500,000 Americans and two and a half million people across the world have died from COVID-19, the U.S. needs to take the lead and invest in global responses to prevent future pandemics. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA-11) stated, “diseases do not respect borders, and global health crises have immense security, economic and humanitarian consequences”. Rep. Connolly also explained that many nations are “underprepared to manage or control outbreaks”.

The Solution: The bipartisan Global Health Security Act is crucial to combating COVID-19. Overall, the bill will increase the U.S. government’s efforts to support epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevent threats of infectious disease outbreaks.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Global Health Security Act.”

Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act

The Issue: Globally, 690 million people are undernourished including women and children. More specifically, women and expectant mothers’ nutrition is unacceptably low in the most vulnerable countries due to various factors, such as limitations to food access and gender inequality. All the while, 1 in 5 children suffers from malnutrition.

The Solution: In order to create lasting global change, it is essential to invest not only in education, health and economic empowerment, but to curb world hunger and malnutrition, especially for women and children. Improving women’s nutrition is imperative to ending malnutrition in all its forms. Providing these services and programs allows children the opportunity to contribute to their communities and become productive members of society in the future. Furthermore, for every $1 invested in global nutrition, there is an estimated $35 in economic return.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act.”


Women’s Empowerment Legislation

Girls LEAD Act

The Problem: Globally, the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed nearly 743 million girls out of school, on top of the approximately 132,000,000 adolescent girls between the age of 6 and 17 who are already not enrolled in school. In addition, the secondary consequences of COVID-19 are projected to put an additional 2.5 million girls at risk of child marriage between 2020 and 2025, in addition to the 12,000,000 adolescent girls under 18 who will marry annually.

The Solution: The bipartisan Girls LEAD Act will implement measures to increase adolescent girls’ participation in democracy, human rights and governance.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Girls LEAD Act.”

Keeping Girls in School Act

The Problem: Across the world, 132 million girls are not enrolled in school, and 743 million girls have seen disruption in their education due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Girls ages 10-19 are three times more likely than boys to be kept out of school, particularly in countries affected by conflict. Moreover, when girls reach adolescence, they are at a high risk of dropping out due to forced marriage, pregnancy or family pressure.

The Solution: The Keeping Girls in School Act empowers girls around the globe by increasing educational opportunities and economic security.

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Keeping Girls in School Act.”

Reach Every Mother & Child Act

The Problem: Although the global number of deaths of mothers and children under 5 have been nearly cut in half in the last 25 years, approximately 800 women still die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. This number is amplified due to the effects of COVID-19, as an estimated 56,700 additional maternal deaths could occur over a six-month period without intervention.

The Solution:The bipartisan Reach Every Mother and Child Act will strengthen the U.S. government’s efforts to end the preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and young children in developing countries,

What to say when calling Congress: “Hello, I’m a Borgen Project supporter and I would like you to support the Reach Every Mother and Child Act.”


Passed Legislation in the 116th Congress (2019-2020)

Global Fragility Act

Passed! Great work!

The Problem: Violence, instability and fragility in countries around the world threaten U.S. national security by creating environments in which terrorism, criminal activity and corruption thrive. Violent conflict is also driving global displacement and humanitarian crises, with 68 million people forcibly displaced around the world and 134 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

In the past decade, the U.S. Government has granted more than one-third of its foreign assistance to countries with ongoing violent conflicts. However, the U.S. lacks a coordinated long-term strategy for stabilizing violence-affected states and addressing the root causes of violence and fragility.

The Solution: The Global Fragility Act of 2019 would focus U.S. diplomatic, development and security efforts on preventing the root causes of violence and instability in countries around the world. 

End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act

Passed! Great work!

The Problem: Neglected Tropical Diseases cause the loss of up to 534,000 lives each year. They create an economic burden through productivity loss and health care costs and impede the ability to attend work, school or function at full capacity.

The Solution: The End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act will promote interagency cooperation and public-private partnerships, a successful example of which is the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) NTD Program.

Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act

Passed! Great work!

The Problem: Compared to the global rate of 40 percent, the rate of higher education enrollment for girls and women in Pakistan is just 9 percent. In addition, in Pakistan, less than 6 percent of women 25 and older attain a bachelor’s degree. This is despite the fact that economic returns for college graduates are the highest in the entire educational system–an average 17 percent increase in earnings per year of schooling.

The Solution: The U.S. already provides critical foreign assistance to Pakistani women. Since 2010, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded more than 6,000 scholarships for young women to receive higher education in Pakistan. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act ensures that the USAID Administrator awards at least 50 percent of the Merit and Needs-Based Scholarship Program to women for each of the calendar years 2020 through 2022.

View Recent Bills that Passed