Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Protecting Poverty-Focused Development Assistance

Jane Sabbi, a farmer in Uganda, learned to plant more nutritious crops like these beans after joining a Ugandan nonprofit farming collective that receives U.S. foreign assistance. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

By Alex Loken

It’s no secret that these are tough times, and unfortunately our nation’s ability to provide aid to people in need around the world is in serious jeopardy. While the debate over our country’s fiscal health rages on, deficit-reduction proposals that include spending cuts to international food aid, Feed the Future, and other programs related to poverty-focused development assistance (PFDA) continue to be part of the discussion.

Not to mention the fact that the threat of across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration, continues to loom: unless Congress acts, these cuts will take effect at the beginning of March. An estimated 5.1 percent cut would result in over $1 billion cut from PFDA programs—that means millions of people would be without food aid, farmer training, education, and lifesaving medicine.   

Poverty-focused programs accomplish so much and reach millions of people around the world, while representing less than 1 percent of the entire U.S. federal budget. These programs are vital to lifting people around the world out of poverty. They also promote a positive image of the United States overseas, strengthen our national security by encouraging stability, and support jobs both at home and abroad.   

Funding for PFDA has more or less flat-lined over the past few years, but these programs have continued to provide lifesaving food aid, help thousands of farmers learn techniques that help increase their yields and incomes, slow mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, and educate children. Still, our work is not done: there are 900 million people who go to bed hungry every night and more than 1 billion people who live on less than $1.25 a day. But if PFDA funding is cut, it will be incredibly difficult to continue to work toward a world without hunger and poverty.

We all agree that America’s budget deficit must be dealt with, but cutting PFDA won’t help balance the ledger. As those on Capitol Hill work to come to an agreement around the debt ceiling and government spending, we urge Congress to protect programs that serve the world’s poor and vulnerable people.

Alex Loken is the government relations research assistant at Bread for the World.

For more information on PFDA, please see the Bread for the World Policy brief "Poverty-Focused Development Assistance 101."


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