Poverty-Focused Foreign Assistance

Globally, the number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen by 400 million since 1990. This is mostly the result of hard work by poor people themselves, but U.S. foreign assistance has also played an important role.

Still, more than 900 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger. These numbers are daunting, but U.S. poverty-focused foreign assistance saves lives and helps improve conditions for millions more by giving people the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

Funding for these programs comprises only 0.6 percent of the U.S. federal budget. Yet this small amount of money is crucial.

Each year, U.S. poverty-focused assistance

  • can save more than 1 million lives by focusing on adequate nutrition during the 1,000-day window from pregnancy to age 2.
  • provides medications that allow 200,000 at-risk infants to be born without HIV.
  • provides counseling to people affected with HIV, more than 33 million since 2004.
  • saves 3 million lives through immunization.
  • helps bring safe drinking water sources to poor communities, benefiting 1.3 billion people over the last decade.

These programs don’t provide long-term handouts, but they fight systemic poverty and provide a chance for people to thrive. For example, a U.S.-funded project in Honduras successfully raised participating farmers’ purchasing power by 87 percent, compared to an 11 percent increase for non-participating farmers.

These programs don’t represent long-term handouts:they fight systemic poverty and provide a chance for people to thrive. For example, a U.S.-funded project in Honduras successfully raised participating farmers’ purchasing power by 87 percent, compared to an 11 percent increase for non-participating farmers.

Funding these programs is not only the right thing to do, it also demonstrates U.S. leadership, protects our national security and economic future, and helps create a more stable world by counteracting the desperation that can lead to political unrest, conflict, and extremism. By addressing the root causes of poverty, these programs also help ensure new markets for U.S. goods and services.

What's Happening in Congress?

Read the latest news on Poverty-Focused Foreign Assistance

As Congress looks for ways to reduce the deficit, poverty-focused foreign assistance continues to be on the chopping block.

Right now, the Senate and the House of Representatives disagree on the discretionary funding portion of the federal budget. Poverty-focused foreign assistance makes up a small part of total discretionary funding, which must be approved by Congress each year.

If the overall level of discretionary funding shrinks, the portion of the federal budget that goes toward poverty-focused foreign assistance—currently 0.6 percent—will also shrink. Any cut would translate to lives lost and increased hunger and poverty around the world.

The Senate’s overall discretionary funding level is designed to foster fiscal control, but it allows the Senate Appropriations committee to provide strong funding for poverty-focused foreign assistance. This funding must be protected now—lives are at risk.

What's Our Message?

Create a circle of protection around funding for vital poverty-focused foreign assistance programs that address the root causes of poverty by

  • supporting the Senate’s FY13 overall discretionary funding level.
  • supporting the Senate’s FY13 funding levels for poverty-focused foreign assistance.

Email Congress

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