World Poverty: Three Big Questions and Three Simple Answers

USAID and three questions/answers
While there are numerous questions regarding world poverty and why we should protect it, here are three big questions and three simple answers that make eliminating poverty a foreseeable future.

Question 1 – Is the Problem too big to address? 

In the case of poverty, no action is too small to make a lasting impact. Food, water, and shelter are basic human needs and when teaching people that are living in poverty how to provide these basic needs for themselves, the solution is very simple. Something small, such as installing a well in an impoverished village can improve the lives of hundreds of people by reducing illnesses caused by dehydration and poor sanitation and creating a source of water for crops to grow.

Question 2 – Doesn’t the US do enough already?

In general, most Americans believe that 25 percent of the United States’ federal budget is allotted to foreign aid. In reality, only one percent of the budget goes to funding programs that provide aid and reduce poverty. To give a bit of perspective, $30 billion goes to foreign aid and $663 billion goes to military spending. When it comes to foreign aid and wealthy countries that can afford to give, the United States ranks among those who give lowest percentage of their GDP, in line after Sweden, Norway, Luxemburg, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The United States allots only 0.2 percent of gross national income to programs that fight poverty across the world while the highest ranking countries give between 0.5 percent and one percent of their national incomes.

Even so, over the years, there have been many successes in poverty reduction. Today poverty remains as one of the biggest problems in the world, however, according to USAID the number of people living in poverty has been reduced by 50 percent in the last 20 years, smallpox has been eradicated worldwide and since 1990, 800 million people have gained access to improved water supplies and 750 million to improved sanitation. If the U.S. only allots 0.2 percent of the gross national income to foreign aid focused programs, there could be tremendous gains and millions more people would benefit if the U.S. allotted another 0.2 percent or more of the federal budget.

Question 3 – Does corruption in developing nations prevent aid from reaching the most impoverished people?

Yes, corruption exists everywhere, but it is not a justifiable excuse for ignoring the billions of people in developing countries that continue to suffer. In fact, experts have developed strategies of transparency that eligible countries must address before receiving aid. These strategies ensure that the aid coming from the United States goes directly to the people and programs that need it the most.

There it is; three big questions and three simple answers when it comes to world poverty. Eliminating poverty is not too big, and funding to end poverty is increasingly protected from supporting corruption. Advocating for foreign aid from the United States, does not simply eradicate illnesses or provide food and knowledge, but lifts men, women, and children out of poverty and assists in establishing long-term development.

– Kira Maixner

Source: The Borgen Project, USAID
Photo: Global Communities