In May of this year, US President Donald Trump proposed slashing foreign aid by 32% in next year's budget — with countries around the world that rely on America for humanitarian assistance seeing drastic cuts to funding for health, education, and economic development.
For individuals living in some of the world’s poorest countries, these cuts could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Foreign aid cuts would hit poor countries where it hurts the most — reducing funding for various programs that give them the tools to build a sustainable future and escape extreme poverty.
A report by leading humanitarian organizations, including Bread for the World, Catholic Relief Services, CARE USA, the International Rescue Committee, Interaction, Mercy Corps, ONE Campaign,Oxfam, PATH, Save the Children, and World Vision, has shown the devastating impact these cuts could have on development around the world.
These cuts would hit everything from food assistance to refugee resettlement.
The proposed budget could cut off access to agricultural development and nutrition programs for more than half a million farmers around the world — programs that allow small farmers to improve their crop yields and learn about sustainable farming techniques.
It would reduce funding for basic education by 53% and completely eliminate it in 16 countries.
An estimated 3.5 million refugees and displaced persons could lose lifesaving assistance, including healthcare, water and sanitation services, shelter assistance, and gender-based violence treatment, through the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration.
For small countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where economic output hovers at or below $10 billion USD, foreign aid can play an especially important role in conflict de-escalation, famine prevention, and civil society building — which is important not only for regional development, but for US national security, as well.
In these five countries in particular, massive cuts to foreign aid, ranging from 1-3% of the size of their entire Gross Domestic Products (GDPs), pose especially grave threats to security and well-being.
1) Central African Republic (Proposed cut: $60M to $6M)
According to USAID, an estimated 2.2 million of the 4.9 million people living in the Central African Republic are in need of humanitarian assistance. In May 2016, more than 100,000 people were displaced because of civil conflict in the Southeastern part of the country, bringing the total number of internally displaced people to over half a million.
Yet Trump’s budget proposal reduces peacekeeping funding from $10 million to $4 million — funding that, for example, helped relocate 1,300 threatened Muslims from Bangui in 2014. The budget also completely guts $45 million worth of food assistance to the country, which last year helped feed over 400,000 people, who could now face mounting food insecurity.
Read more about how foreign aid affects the Central African Republic here.
2) Liberia (Proposed cut: $91M to $29M)
Focus: Outbreak response
One of the countries most affected by the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak, Liberia was declared completely free from the disease in January of 2016. Since then, foreign aid has been funneled toward the transition from emergency response activities to preventative measures to avoid the next outbreak.
Under Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2018 budget, global health program funding through USAID would be slashed from just under $32 million per year to $8 million, which could derail these efforts and put the country at risk of another deadly outbreak.
USAID works with the Ministry of Health to provide services in 208 clinics across the country — clinics that would lose critical funding for family planning and anti-Malaria intervention.
Read more about how foreign aid affects Liberia here.
3) South Sudan (Proposed cut: $372 million to $110 million)
Focus: Famine prevention
In some parts of South Sudan, more than 15% of the population have acute malnutrition — a threshold set by the World Health Organization as an indicator of a food emergency and a fact that has caused USAID to call the country’s food security situation "critical."
The US government has responded to South Sudan’s incipient famine crisis by increasing food aid to the country through the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance by more than $60 million.
But in Trump’s proposed budget, foreign aid would be cut by more than two-thirds overall, including 100% of Title II food aid, currently totaling $242 million. Without food aid, South Sudan’s 5 million food insecure people could quickly fall into a famine emergency.
Read more about how foreign aid affects South Sudan here.
4) Somalia (Proposed cut: $343 million to $177 million)
Focus: Good governance
Similar to South Sudan, Somalia is currently confronting a severe hunger crisis, with 6.7 million people experiencing acute malnutrition. Somalia, which according to the United Nations is no longer a “failed state,” but merely a “fragile” one, has also battled with corruption and piracy for many years.
Under Trump’s FY18 proposed budget the country would no longer receive any funds for Title II food aid, or money for working with politicians in the country’s incipient Transitional Federal Parliament, a key ingredient in ensuring free and fair elections and minimizing corruption.
Furthermore, peacekeeping operations, which have helped the country move from a “failed” to a “fragile” state, would be reduced from $270 million to just over $100 million.
Read more about how foreign aid affects Somalia here.
5) Malawi (Proposed cut: $260 million to $161 million)
In Malawi, 92% of primary school students cannot read a single word, and 83% cannot read a single syllable, according to USAID.
This is why it’s so important that USAID is working in Malawi to improve primary education through initiatives like the $65 million Malawi Early Grade Reading Improvement Activity, expected to last from 2015-2020.
“When we educate girls and invest in their potential, there is no limit to the impact they can have,” US Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer said. “Girls who attend school have healthier families. They make more money. And they have fewer children, combatting perhaps the greatest challenge to Malawi's long-term development, population growth.”
Trump’s 2018 budget slashes USAID’s development assistance focused on education from $15 million per year to zero, which would put an end to the Malawi Early Grade Reading Improvement Activity, among other programs.
Read more about how foreign aid affects Malawi here.
Global Citizen is calling on Congress to #StopTheCuts. You can take action here to help ensure countries like these, and hundreds of others, will not be left without critical funding.