President Trump’s proposed budget slashes foreign assistance

on
25 October 2017
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A Rohingya woman and her small child pose for a photograph after making the perilous journey from Myanmar.  Pregnant women who lack pre-natal care, new mothers delivering babies without access to water or good hygiene, and babies and small children, are at particular risk from illness and infection

WaterAid expressed alarm at the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2018, which includes a 29.1 % cut to State and Other International Programs; eliminates USAID’s core poverty reduction tool, the Development Assistance Account; and makes significant cuts to Global Health Programs.

The budget proposes a new account, the Economic Support and Development Fund, to be administered by the Department of State rather than USAID for entirely different purposes than the existing DA account. This approach is fundamentally opposed to the national security community’s position that development is as important as defense and diplomacy to US safety, security, and economic stability.

WaterAid, the leading international nonprofit focused on clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), calls on Congress to fully fund the foreign affairs budget at $60 billion. This must include $3.4 billion for the Development Assistance (DA) Account as its own line of funding managed by USAID. The DA Account supports WASH, along with other foundations to eliminating poverty, such as agriculture and education, which cannot be buried within other funding approaches if they are to succeed in reducing poverty and improving global health.

 


Baby Gracious (6 months) at the Garki Village Primary Health Centre, Abuja, Nigeria. 
Photo: WaterAid/ Simi Vijay

 

The DA and GHP Accounts advance peace, public health and economic productivity worldwide; the one depends upon the other for their benefits to be fully realized. Not only are these impactful investments, evidence shows that they are efficient as well: a $1 investment in water and sanitation returns $4 in saved health care costs and increased economic productivity. Cuts in these areas, and the restructuring proposed by the President, would jeopardize US interests, threatening our ability to influence global politics and protect Americans at home and abroad from conflict, economic instability, and disease.

WaterAid CEO, Sarina Prabasi said:

“The Trump Administration is undoing over forty years of bipartisan agreement about the importance of global development and humanitarian assistance. This is not a partisan issue; foreign assistance safeguards national and global security. Prioritizing Development Assistance is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. This is why investment in USAID’s foreign assistance programs has long enjoyed broad bipartisan support as well as the support of faith-based groups and the national security community.

The United States has been a leader in providing support for developing countries, and promoting strong relationships with countries around the world. Rescinding any development assistance will jeopardize our critical relationships and cede leadership to other donor nations.”

The President’s proposal to decimate USAID funding and footprint would result in the loss of unmatched technical expertise and relationships with governments around the world, putting US security and moral authority at great risk. The proposal to shift critical funding away from the nation’s poverty reduction efforts and to narrow the applicable countries undercuts US moral authority and evidence about what works for a more stable world. Congress must uphold its commitment to foreign assistance and to the American people, and reject these dangerous proposals from the White House.