Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
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Revamp U.S. foreign aid

By Dr. Louise Driscoll on May 26, 2009
© Miami Herald

Foreign aid from the United States helps low-income nations reduce hunger and poverty. But our nation's foreign-assistance programs are seriously outdated and need to be better coordinated to be more effective. Currently, U.S. global development policies and programs are scattered across 12 departments, 25 different agencies and nearly 60 government offices.

The large number of federal agencies and offices involved in distributing aid demands a more-coordinated system. It is time for Congress to look at making poverty reduction a primary goal of streamlined foreign assistance. On April 28, Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., member of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009 (H.R. 2139).

The bill is a critical first step toward making foreign assistance more effective, efficient and transparent. It calls on the president to develop and implement a comprehensive national strategy for global development, improve the evaluation of development programs, and increase the transparency of U.S. foreign assistance to developing countries.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Her support for this legislation is critical. This bill is a good first step in making our nation's foreign assistance more effective.

U.S. foreign assistance has helped reduce child deaths, improve agricultural capacity and increase school enrollment. But more lives can be saved if we improve the way it is delivered.

That is why we at Bread for the World are asking Ros-Lehtinen to co-sponsor H.R. 2139, the Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act.

Currently, U.S. foreign assistance is governed by a law signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

By making our foreign aid more efficient and effective, it will have a greater impact on poor and hungry people around the world, something that Ros-Lehtinen has supported time and time again. Now more than ever it is incumbent on us to write to our legislators and challenge them to make foreign aid more efficient and effective.

DR. LOUISE DRISCOLL, Bread for the World, Coral Gables Congregational Church, Miami



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