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WaterAid today expressed its strong opposition to the 28.7% cut to funding for the US Agency for International Development and Department of State, proposed today by President Trump in his Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Blueprint, citing the action as being out of line with America’s priorities, US moral leadership, national security interests, and the needs of poor and vulnerable people worldwide.
WaterAid, the leading international nonprofit in the clean water, sanitation and hygiene sector, has called on Congress to oppose these proposed cuts by fully funding the budgets for USAID and the Department of State.
Even as widespread public perception place US spending on international aid at upwards of 20% of the total Federal Budget, the International Affairs Budget in fact makes up only approximately 1% of the whole. The United States provides a significantly smaller percentage than many of its European allies as a share of Gross National Income, despite its historic generosity in absolute dollars. This contradicts the suggestion in President Trump's budget that these cuts are intended to refocus the "appropriate US share of international spending."
Development assistance has proven its value as an efficient investment in peace, security, democracy, public health and economic productivity worldwide. WaterAid contends that US national interests will be deteriorated if these cuts become reality, threatening not only our ability to influence global politics such as through the United Nations, but also our ability to protect Americans at home and abroad from violent conflict, global economic fragility, pandemic diseases, and more.
WaterAid CEO, Sarina Prabasi said:
“These cuts are ideological and not financial; you can’t balance the budget on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet. You can't balance a budget by focusing on the smallest part—about one percent—of the budget. The President’s Budget Request runs counter to decades of bipartisan support for international development as a core tool for protecting Americans at home and abroad, and ignores the majority of Americans who feel that the US should play a major role in global health, poverty reduction and other international problems.
“Safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are perfect examples of critical USAID programs that have enjoyed strong bipartisan support. They also represent a strong return on investment: $4 returned for every $1 invested in WASH, supported by a mere 1% of the total International Affairs Budget. Abandoning the Agency now is akin to throwing away those efforts—at the expense of human lives, for no reason. None of us, Republican, Democrat or Independent, support that.”
Over recent years, USAID has taken major strides to improve the efficiency of its funding, better leverage private sources of support, increase transparency and data collection, and have greater impact. Significant cuts to USAID’s funding stand to not only halt these reform efforts in their tracks, but undermine a great deal of progress worldwide.
The International Affairs Budget covers USAID programs and the State Department’s diplomacy work, and has had long-standing support from the faith and military communities, and people from across the political spectrum.
WaterAid calls on Congress to continue the bipartisan spirit of international assistance, by fully funding the International Affairs Account with a minimum of $60 billion. Failing to do so will be a matter of life and death for millions of people; it would also be a failure of US leadership in the world.