During a visit to Ethiopia’s capital on Tuesday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah announced new grant programs to help the nation address food insecurity, the Associated Press reports. Shah said the U.S. will provide $110 million to a food security program that will benefit 1.5 million people, $10 million for a nutrition program and $1.2 million for loans to farmers, the news agency notes (10/4).
US Global Health Policy
As Congress looks to reduce the U.S. national debt, “both the Republican-controlled House and the Democrat-controlled Senate have proposed slashing financing for the State Department and its related aid agencies at a time of desperate humanitarian crises and uncertain political developments,” the New York Times reports. The proposed cuts to President Barack Obama’s FY12 spending request would be “the first significant cuts in overseas aid in nearly two decades, a retrenchment that officials and advocates say reflects the country’s diminishing ability to influence the world,” according to the newspaper. The reductions would affect global health programs and humanitarian assistance for disaster-hit areas, among other programs, the newspaper notes.
At an event at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Barbara Bush, CEO of Global Health Corps and a board member of Population Services International (PSI), told the Daily Caller that reducing foreign aid as part of efforts to reduce the national debt would have “enormous implications for the U.S. if we don’t continue the efforts that we’ve already started” (Ballasy, 10/3). The event marked the launch of a campaign called “The Power of 1%,” sponsored by PSI, FHI360, PATH, World Vision and ONE and aimed at highlighting “the economics of global health and the benefits U.S. investments overseas have for Americans at home,” according to a campaign press release (.pdf) (10/3).
“Congress has … blocked $200 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority [PA] since August, in a move a PA official described as ‘collective punishment’ for its United Nations bid” for statehood, GlobalPost reports (10/1). “The economic package is separate from security aid, which the U.S. lawmakers say would be counterproductive to block,” Agence France-Presse writes (10/2).
In a Huffington Post opinion piece, Kolleen Bouchane, director of ACTION, asks whether President Barack Obama will “heed Archbishop [Desmond] Tutu’s call to action” in a recent Washington Post opinion piece “and do his part to end AIDS.” She says, “While campaigning, President Obama promised to expand PEPFAR ‘by $1 billion a year in new money over the next five years’ and provide $50 billion by 2013 to fight HIV/AIDS worldwide. We are not on track to see even those promises become reality. We are not on track for the leadership to change the course of HIV and AIDS that Tutu has called for.”
This post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog” examines the agency’s work with women suffering from obstetric fistula in Guinea, where “[t]he average … woman will have six children during her lifetime” and “due to the lack of obstetric care,” many develop the “painful injury that is especially traumatic due to the stigma…
“Several American aid groups are criticizing the U.S. government delay on deciding whether to resume large-scale food donations to North Korea” after recent flooding deteriorated health and food security in the country, VOA News reports. The five U.S.-based, non-governmental organizations “warn that if substantial aid is not permitted in the next six to nine months, many vulnerable people in the impoverished communist state could die from starvation,” the news service writes.
USAID is working with non-governmental organization partners to test a “nutritional impact assessment tool” that “‘would be a way for organizations designing or reviewing agricultural programs to mitigate any risks or potential negative effects on nutrition — in other words a “do no harm” approach,’ said Michael Zeilinger, head of the nutrition division with USAID’s office of health, infectious disease and nutrition,” IRIN reports. “‘As we start to design major agriculture programs around value chains and increasing production (such as Feed the Future and Global Agriculture and Food Security Program), we should really remember that there are some practices in agriculture that may have potential negative effects on nutrition, and this is just to make sure that they’re thought through,’ Zeilinger told IRIN.”
In this New American opinion piece, Beverly Eakman, an author and former editor-in-chief of NASA’s newspaper in Houston, writes of humanitarian aid, “With the U.S. debt having surpassed 100 percent of gross domestic product August 3, to $14.58 trillion, it’s crudely entertaining to see how multimillionaire lawmakers in Congress and administrations both past and present find ‘compassionate’ ways to spend ever-more of taxpayers’ money,” asserting that “such expenditure is not specifically sanctioned by American taxpayers, and therefore constitutes theft by the U.S. government for what the State Department probably hopes will buy international good will.”
World Bank Pledges $1.88B To Address Drought In Horn Of Africa; Additional Funding Announced At U.N. Meeting, By U.S.
“The World Bank said on Saturday it was more than tripling funding to $1.88 billion for a worsening drought in Horn of Africa countries affecting more than 13 million people,” Reuters reports. “World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the financing would help fill a $1 billion funding gap needed to tackle drought and a food crisis engulfing parts of Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Uganda,” the news agency writes, noting the bank initially had pledged $500 million in July. Zoellick said the majority of the funding was to go toward long-term solutions to drought relief, with $288 million reserved for humanitarian aid through June 2012, according to Reuters (9/25).