Bread for the World’s 2011 Offering of Letters urges Congress and the administration to press forward with reforms to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective in reducing poverty. These reforms will help millions of people move out of hunger and poverty.
The main driver of poverty reduction in the world is the hard work of poor people themselves. Given the opportunity to improve their communities and provide a better life for their children, they will seize it. We need to make sure U.S. foreign aid reaches those who need it most and that it supports their efforts to lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty.
Over the last decade, Bread for the World members have helped triple U.S. funding for assistance programs that are focused on reducing hunger and poverty and promoting economic development in poor countries. These programs do a lot of good. For example, the rate of chronically hungry people in developing countries has fallen from 20 percent to 16 percent.
More recently, Bread members have helped build momentum to reform U.S. foreign assistance. We have already achieved critical changes. We have helped make international development—specifically the reduction of world hunger—a higher priority for the U.S. government. Our government is leading an international initiative to strengthen agriculture and improve nutrition in poor countries. The U.S. component of this initiative is called Feed the Future.
Congress has also started drafting reform legislation, including a possible overhaul of portions of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the legal basis of our government’s overseas development work. We will continue to work with Republicans and Democrats to generate bipartisan support for these reforms. Since 2008, Bread for the World has helped build formidable coalitions, including the broad-based Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, as well as with other faith-based groups, to press for these reforms.
We seek changes on four fronts:
Reforms in U.S. foreign assistance will mean more help to millions of hungry and poor people for many years to come. Bread for the World believes the United States should be investing more in reducing poverty around the world. Improving the quality and efficacy of aid programs will strengthen the case for generosity and maximize the use of our current aid dollars.
More effective aid matters to poor countries. Haiti, for example, is struggling to recover from long-standing poverty made worse by the 2010 earthquake. Similarly, the people of Liberia are emerging from two devastating civil wars that left many more deeply impoverished. These problems cannot be overcome quickly. But more effective U.S. assistance will make a big difference as Haitians and Liberians—and people in many other developing countries—increase their capacity and infrastructure so they can become self-sufficient and build a better future for themselves.
More effective U.S. assistance can also achieve a rapid reduction in malnutrition among children worldwide. Recent studies demonstrate that the best way to reduce child deaths and disabilities from malnutrition is to focus on babies and pregnant women.
For Bread for the World members, advocacy for hungry and poor people is a matter of faith. We are moved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ to help our neighbors—whether they are next door or on the other side of the world. We push for changes in laws and systems that enable hunger and poverty to persist.