American Foreign Aid Saves Lives in Desperate Places
Foreign aid is one of the United States' most cost-effective and life-saving humanitarian efforts
October 11, 2011
While reducing the U.S. budget deficit and living within our means represent moral values, it is also a moral imperative to save vulnerable children from death, hunger and the effects of disaster. The United States can do both. We can get our fiscal house in order and continue funding for global humanitarian programs that make up less than 1 percent of the total federal budget.
The United States' global humanitarian programs are some of the most cost-effective, life-saving programs within the federal budget. For the small cost of a malaria bed net, a vaccine, a meal, or some medication, the life of a parent or child can be saved. These funds are often leveraging private resources, which makes them even more cost-effective. There are few places within the federal budget where cuts could directly translate to lives being lost. The International Affairs budget is one of those places.
[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]
Many of these programs are the only beacon of hope that exists in desperate places like the famine-struck Horn of Africa where 12 million people are at risk.
An important American value is the belief that all people are "created equal" and "have value" because they are created in the image of God. This is an important theme in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. It was also a major theme when President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt advocated for the passage of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. The promotion of human rights and humanitarian causes like disasters or the global AIDS crisis has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy representing the best of American values.
A major success story around both private and public international assistance has been in the reduction of preventable deaths in children under the age of five. In 1960, more than 20 million children died yearly of preventable causes. Two years ago, that figure was 9.1 million. Just this month, a new report showed this number was reduced to 7.6 million children. That's an incredible 60 percent decrease in preventable child deaths, in part because of these programs.
It makes no sense to cut programs that do the right thing and represent the best of American values.