On February 12, the Administration released its budget proposal for FY19. While this budget is not binding, it does lay out the White House’s priorities and may influence the decisions Congress makes. To uphold World Vision’s mission, including to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed, promote human transformation, and seek justice, we have joined other leading humanitarian, development, and global health organizations to call upon Congress to sustain and protect the International Affairs Budget in FY 2019 at a minimum of current FY 2017 levels. Support in Congress is critical to ensure strong U.S. global leadership through poverty-focused development, global health, and humanitarian programs.
World Vision is deeply concerned with the Administration’s FY 2019 International Affairs budget request, which for the second year in a row proposes to slash funding for effective, lifesaving, foreign assistance accounts. These accounts help create a safer and more secure world, especially for children. At a time when global crises continue to grow, this budget proposal shows a lack of understanding of the significant value of U.S. foreign assistance, including partnership to reach the most vulnerable.
Overall, the Administration is requesting a 30 percent cut from FY 17 levels to the agencies that support foreign assistance programs. These cuts are deep and and far greater than cuts to any other agencies. People who are marginalized, who have been affected by conflict, or who live in under-resourced countries will be negatively impacted by the cuts outlined below. Some of these programs fall outside of the primary foreign assistance agencies, but fund international development through other channels. Comparisons are to the FY17 budget – specific allocations for FY18 have not yet been announced.
For Global Health
Global health and related accounts help provide children with the best start by beginning with a focus on a healthy mother. Health is further fostered through vaccines, nutrition, and programs that fight to end diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
- A nearly 20 percent proposed cut to PEPFAR, a program that is significant to fighting the AIDS crisis, including through treatment and prevention.
- A 37 percent proposed cut to nutrition programs
- A 26 percent proposed cut to the account for neglected tropical diseases; diseases that affect more than one billion people in 149 countries and cost developing economies billions of dollars each year.
For Humanitarian Accounts
Humanitarian accounts primarily focus on helping people who have been forced to flee their homes, are affected by conflict, or affected by natural disasters. Globally, 65.6 million people (1 in 13) have been forcibly displaced from their homes. This number is unprecedented.
- A nearly 20 percent proposed cut to the Migration & Refugee Assistance (MRA) account that works with partners to provide people who are refugees or forcibly displaced with provisions such as emergency shelter, water and sanitation, health care, and family reunification.
- Proposed elimination of the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) account. This smaller account ensures the U.S. can react quickly to unexpected humanitarian crises, such as when famine struck the Horn of Africa in 2011, in 2013 when the number of Syrians forced to flee increased more than three-fold from the year before, and when the civil war in South Sudan broke out in 2013, affecting more than 2 million people over a short period of time.
For Food Security
An estimated 815 million people in the world go to bed hungry each night. This number has been steadily declining over the past decade with implementation of successful programs, but recently rose from 795 million. This rise is largely attributed to conflict and increased climate shifts. Of children under age 5, approximately 155 million are stunted, meaning they are not only small in stature but have affected brain growth and development as well.
- A 49 percent proposed cut to Feed the Future. This program helps address nutrition and economic opportunity by providing families with tools to lift themselves out of poverty. Feed the Future develops program approaches through partnerships with U.S. corporations, universities, farmers, and non-profit organizations.
- A proposed complete elimination of the U.S. contribution to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) that focuses on aid to increase agricultural output for people in rural areas living in poverty.
- A proposed complete elimination of the McGovern Dole Food for Education Program. This USDA funded program provides school meals, teacher training, and more, to help to boost school enrollment and academic performance. This program improves the rate of children able to attend school, as well as literacy rates, and especially benefits girls.
- A proposed complete elimination of Food for Peace Title II, a program that has reached more than 3 billion people across 150 countries since it began more than 50 years ago. Work includes responding to emergency situations, focus on increasing food security among vulnerable populations, and strengthening communities at the local level to improve resilience to shocks, such as drought.
- A proposed complete elimination of Food for Progress that helps developing countries strengthen their own agricultural sectors with a goal to improve productivity and expand trade of agricultural products. This USDA funded program utilizes donated U.S. agricultural commodities. In recipient countries, these commodities are sold on the local market and the proceeds are used to support agricultural, economic, or infrastructure development programs.
More than 1 billion children in the world – half the world’s children, are affected by a form of violence. This includes forced labor, early marriage, trafficking, gender based violence, and the list goes on. Violence against children, in all its forms, takes a disastrous toll on physical, mental, and social development.
- The Administration’s budget proposed to zero out Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) programs to fight child labor. These programs that address systemic drivers of child labor through community involvement.
- An approximate 35 percent proposed cut to the Education Account that fosters opportunities for children to go school. Attending school is a proven protective factor against child trafficking, child labor, contracting HIV, early marriage, and more.
What can you do?
Congress does not prioritize the topics they do not hear about. Ask your members of Congress to be a strong voice for international development. Let them know that you would like them to only support budget deals that sustain foreign assistance funding.
Photo: © World Vision