Humanitarian needs are growing worldwide and international donors are not keeping up. So far, only one-quarter of the money requested for 2017 is available to respond to crises ranging from Syrian refugees to the more than 20 million people at risk of famine. More money is needed due to deteriorating conditions in conflict regions and the recent rapid growth of violence in the Kasai province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spent the past two days in Washington defending proposed massive cuts to the foreign affairs budget, using the ‘less is more’ approach. Critics on both sides of the aisle characterized his proposal to cut the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by about 30 percent as “reckless” and “divorced from reality.”
Canada has decided to shift its foreign aid spending so that it emphasizes empowering women and girls. By setting a goal of 15 percent of aid spending on gender equality, Canada will become the single largest contributor in bilateral funding to women’s rights organizations.
Germany wants to start a new global emergency relief fund just as the U.S. announces its intention to leave the United Nation’s Green Climate Fund. The announcements come roughly a week apart and show how diverging priorities for some of the world’s largest economies may reshape the humanitarian system.
The British election has implications for the future of aid and development. To some extent, as does Britain on foreign aid so does the rest of the world. As the U.S. appears to be retreating from the world’s stage, the U.K. – already the world’s second largest donor – is in position to become the world leader in the fight against poverty and inequity.
Forty-three senators signed an open letter to the four senators leading federal budget negotiations, asking them to protect the foreign aid budget. Members from both major parties requested “robust funding” for the international affairs budget – home to diplomatic and foreign aid spending. The letter comes just days after a Trump administration budget document was leaked proposing deep cuts to foreign aid programs and to shift money away from USAID to the State Department.
The Trump administration appears to be planning a major restructure of the U.S. aid agency. Money for USAID would shift to the State Department as a part of the White House effort to streamline the federal government, according to a leaked budget document obtained by Foreign Policy.
The annual public letter from Bill and Melinda Gates has become a much-celebrated event in the global development calendar. But the self-described ‘impatient optimists’ paint a picture that is so selective in its use of facts that it amounts to little more than propaganda for a failing industry, and indeed a failing ideology. The 2017 letter is especially striking for just how out-of-sync it feels with the current zeitgeist.
The Trump administration unveiled a budget that increases military spending by 10 percent by cutting to other government programs. An array of leaders from the military to nonprofits are upset that the foreign aid budget will suffer cuts as part of the plan.
The anti-foreign aid campaign by the British tabloid the Daily Mail claimed a major victory. The U.K. pulled funding from Girl Effect, a girls rights program, after the tabloid characterized the £9 million program as a waste of taxpayer money.