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Global issues: development assistance, humanitarian aid, military aid, debt forgiveness, and control of international institutions such as the World Bank

This section of Hunger Notes includes

Development Assistance

Big budgets, little oversight in war zones Scott Higham, Jessica Schulberg and Steven Rich Washington Post May 4, 2014 See more development assistance stories

Man in Ugandan demonstration holding up poster that says "No to the Ugandan illegal anti-homosexuality bill." Photo: Kaytee Riek/Flickr

Briefing: Punitive aid cuts disrupt healthcare in Uganda IRIN News April 2, 2014 Ugandan police raid US-financed health project in what appeared to be the first public action to enforce a new anti-homosexuality law Associated Press New York Times April 5, 2014 Also see Funding for 10,000 childen lost in 2 days as a result of World Vision's decision to allow hiring of married gay people Matthew Paul Turner April 3, 2014

Development aid: Enemy of emancipation Firoze Manjii Foreign Policy In Focus March 24, 2014

A precarious victory in El Salvador: Washington is threatening to withhold development aid unless El Salvador adopts economic policies that Salvadorans just voted against Madeleine Conway Foreign Policy In Focus March 18, 2014 

How much aid is required to end extreme poverty? John McArthur OpenCanada.org February 18, 2014

Residents of Clara Town, a low-income neighbourhood of Monrovia, Liberia, face sanitation challenges with the onset of the rainy season. Photo: Travis Lupick/IPS

Residents of Clara Town, a low-income neighbourhood of Monrovia, Liberia, face sanitation challenges with the onset of the rainy season. Photo: Travis Lupick/IPS

UN focuses on faltering goals: water, sanitation, energy Thalif Deen Inter Press Service February 19, 2014 See more nutrition and health stories

World Bank is criticized for Honduran loan to a Honduran palm-oil company engaged in a violent conflict with farm workers over land tenure Elisabeth Malkin New York Times January 10, 2014

After troops leave, US to lose access to Afghan reconstruction projects worth billions Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Scott Higham Washington Post October 26, 2013

Mali's aid problem  IRIN News August 5, 2013 As oil-rich Chad splashes the cash it must beware white elephant projects.

Ten years after Chad's oil came onstream, large infrastructure projects disguise a country failing to fruitfully invest its revenue Celeste Hicks The Guardian August 5, 2013

Generating global governance to end hunger—a Q&A with the FAO director-general Matthew Newsome Inter Press Service July 25, 2013

Countering the policies of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which promotes the use of genetically modified (GM) crops revolution IRIN News July 8, 2013

A photo from March 2012 shows Robert Becker of the National Democratic Institute, who has been given a two-year sentence

A photo from March 2012 shows Robert Becker of the National Democratic Institute, who has been given a two-year sentence. An Egyptian court convicted and sentenced to jail 43 nonprofit workers, including 16 Americans. Photo:Khaled Elfiqi/EPA  

Egypt convicts 43 NGO workers, including 16 Americans, on charges of using foreign funds to foment unrest Griff Witte Washington Post June 4, 2001

UN urged to adopt 2030 goal of ending extreme poverty BBC News May 30, 2013

Promising African development fund collapses Barry Meier and Ron Nixon New York Times May 30, 2013  

World Bank, in a changed economy, pushes focus to building a middle class Howard Schneider Washington Post April 19, 2013 World Bank chief says global poverty is a bigger challenge than action on HIV—calls 1.2 billion people living on under $1.25 a day a 'stain on our conscience' Larry Elliott The Guardian April 4, 2013 World Bank chief says global warming threatens the planet and the poorest Howard Schneider Washington Post April 2, 2013   

Photo of Sahelian farmer.  Supporting agricultural in ecologically fragile zones is key to people having enough income, thereby reducing the need for humanitarian aid. Photo: Anna Jefferys/IRIN

Supporting agricultural in ecologically fragile zones is key to people having enough income, thereby reducing the need for humanitarian aid. Photo: Anna Jefferys/IRIN

The annual large request for humanitarian assistance in the Sahel is a clear sign that development there is not working IRIN News March 4, 2013 Understanding resilience Jaspreet Kindra IRIN News March 4, 2013

UN poverty panel meets in Liberia to debate world goals as Millenium Development Goals near end Patrick Wintour The Guardian February 1, 2013

IMF support to poor countries gets needed boost from gold sale profits IMF Survey October 4, 2012

Ethiopian leader's death highlights gap between US interests and ideals Jeffrey Gettleman New York Times August 21, 2012

Hired gun fight: Obama's aid chief takes on the development-industrial complex (opinion) John Norris Foreign Policy July 18, 2012  Statement on divisive Foreign Policy piece (opinion) Coalition of International Development Companies July 20, 2012

Pakistan jails doctor who helped to find Bin Laden BBC News May 23, 2012 Fallout of Bin Laden raid: Aid groups in Pakistan are suspect Declan Walsh New York Times May 2, 2012

Firms to invest in food production for world's poor Stephanie Strom New York Times May 17, 2012

Doubling direct foreign aid could hurt US contractors Nick Taborek Bloomberg News/Washington Post May 20, 2012

Dire poverty falls despite worldwide slump, World Bank finds Annie Lowrey New York Times March 6, 2012  See related commentary Have we really achieved goal one of the Millennium Development Goals? Bill Abrams TrickleUp March 15, 2012

Amid criticism, UN food agency to elect new chief Raphael Minder New York Times June 24, 2011

G20 summit to address the world food crisis barely addresses key issues including biofuels, safety nets and trade restrictions  IRIN News June 24, 2011  See G20 report See Hunger Notes special report: The world food and hunger crisis

Egyptians desperate for democracy, but wary of US assistance in part because most past US aid has gone to the military and been interpreted by Egyptians as support for a regime that oppressed them Kathy Lally and Mary Beth Sheridan Washington Post March 5, 2011

As food prices soar, most developed countries ignore 2009 promise to fund food security initiative Howard Schneider Washington Post  February 18, 2011 World leaders at UN summit vow to aid farmers in bid to help starving [though past record of assistance has been dismal]  Richard Owen Times Online November 16, 2009  G8 pledges to increase assistance to developing country agriculture BBC News July 10, 2009 There has been a record of overall failure of  governments to address world hunger. In spite of the 1995 World Food Summit commitment to reduce world hunger by half from 824 billion then to 412 billion by 2015, the number of hungry people has in fact increased to over 1 billion.  Two recent studies address this failure: the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2009 by Fian International and others and Bridging the Divide by Oxfam.  See Hunger Notes special report:  Food is a human right--or is it?

Basic analysis of United States foreign aid

U.S. Foreign Aid Explained  Lane Vanderslice  June 5, 2005

This article describes the four principal components of U.S. foreign aid: 

  • development assistance ($8.4 billion in 2005) to assist in the development of poor (and other) countries.  The  principal components assisting poor countries are the USAID Child Survival account, the USAID development assistance account,  the State Departments Global HIV/AIDS initiative, the Millennium Challenge account, and contributions to multilateral development banks such as the World Bank.  There are also two accounts assisting Eastern Europe and countries of the former Soviet Union, most of which are higher income countries.

  • humanitarian assistance ($2.3 billion in 2005) goes to those very much in need, because they are in a natural or man-made disaster (such as war) or because they are refugees.

  • military and security assistance ($7.8 billion in 2005) provides assistance to U.S. allies, principally through  financing military purchases by these countries or making budget support payments to their governments.

  • narcotics control initiatives ($1.0 billion) to assist countries in eradicating drugs and providing alternative employment.  Assistance to country police forces is also made.

Official Development Assistance. How much are developed countries contributing to developing countries?   What is official development assistance--what is counted and what is not?

Half of total assistance, $9.7 billion in 2005,  is development and humanitarian assistance that goes to poor countries. (Some development and humanitarian assistance goes to countries that are not classified as poor, such as many countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.)

Official development assistance (ODA) measures how much each developed country gives to developing countries, both in terms of United States dollars and as a percentage of each countries gross national product. The United States gives the largest amount of  development assistance, but it only gives .17 of one percent of its gross national income (GNI), substantially below the average country contribution of .41 of one percent of GNI, and far below the agreed upon target of .7 percent (in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit). For more information see How much are developed countries contributing to developing countries??

Official development assistance (ODA) is slightly broader than development assistance to developing countries--the $9.7 billion mentioned above.  It is difficult to find a good explanation of what exactly ODA is and what it counts. Hunger Notes provides two:   What is official development assistance? (based on information from the United States Agency for International Development) and a fuller explanation,  "Foreign aid: understanding data used to compare donors" (six page pdf file) by Larry Nowells,  a researcher with the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress.  This article was originally done for Congress.

Humanitarian assistance including food aid

The future of food aid Jaspreet Kindra IRIN News July 26, 2013

Why aid workers are targets Abby Stoddard The Globalist May 14, 2013

Helping aid workers build meaningful careers Anna Jefferys IRIN News May 13, 2013

Humanitarian workers unprepared for decades of conflict, UNHCR warns Annie Kelly The Guardian April 30, 2013 Afghanistan - the world’s most dangerous place for aid workers IRIN News April 18, 2013

The world has changed, but 'our hallmark food assistance program has not,' USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said. Photo: AP

Proposal for changes in food aid sets off infighting in Congress Ron Nixon New York Times May 2, 2013 Kill the Food for Peace program? What a horrible idea from our own government! (opinion) Dan Shaughnessy World Hunger Education Service April 27, 2013 A food fight over Food for Peace David Rodgers Politico April 24, 2013 Obama proposes end to monetized food aid IRIN News  April 11, 2012 Obama administration seeks to overhaul international food aid Ron Nixon New York Times April 4, 2013 Aid groups push Obama administration to shift the way US helps feed starving people abroad Associated Press Washington Post  April 5, 2012

A compelling reform of United States food aid Michael Gerson Washington Post April 15, 2013 (opinion)

A picture of tents housing Syrian refugees. Syria’s refugees: The United Nations estimates that within a week, there could be 1 million refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq as more people flee the Syrian civil war. Photo: Mohammad Hannon/AP

Syria’s refugees: The United Nations estimates that within a week, there could be 1 million refugees in Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq as more people flee the Syrian civil war. Photo: Mohammad Hannon/AP

As Syrian refugee population nears 1 million, relief agencies cannot keep up Taylor Luck Washington Post March 4, 2013

Briefing: New food treaty thin on substance IRIN News October 4, 2012  

World failing on Mali emergency, UN humanitarian chief says BBC News August 30, 2012

The Karimojong are moving away from nomadic ways of life and adopting agro-pastoralism. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), which has provided food aid to the arid northeastern Uganda region for over 40 years, has significantly scaled back and changed the dynamics of its Karamoja operations. These now support 150,000 people in extremely vulnerable households, down from one million in 2009. Photo: Jane Some/IRIN (file photo)

The Karimojong are moving away from nomadic ways of life and adopting agro-pastoralism. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), which has provided food aid to the arid northeastern Uganda region for over 40 years, has significantly scaled back and changed the dynamics of its Karamoja operations. These now support 150,000 people in extremely vulnerable households, down from one million in 2009. Photo: Jane Some/IRIN (file photo)

Uganda: Weaning Karamoja off food aid IRIN News August 9, 2012

Global humanitarian needs declined in 2011 but funding shortfalls continued to widen, report says IRIN News July 23, 2012 See report.

Aid policy: The rise of the new donors IRIN News October 19, 2011 

Humanitarian aid in 2010 was at its highest-ever levelUS$16.7 billionbut so were aid costs, says aid watchdog Development Initiatives IRIN News July 20, 2011 See report

Military aid and other elements of developed country influence and the political interests and issues behind them

Senegalese forces train with US Marines. Photo: US Marine Corps/Flickr

Senegalese forces train with US Marines. The US military is now conducting exercises and operations with virtually every African military. Photo: US Marine Corps/Flickr

AFRICOM goes to war on the sly: An AFRICOM official says the US has been "at war" in Africa for over two years Nick Turse TomDispatch/Foreign Policy in Focus  April 15, 2014 See Hunger Notes special report on foreign assistance

US sends Osprey aircraft, more Special Operations forces to hunt Ugandan warlord Karen DeYoung Washington Post March 23, 2014

US takes training role in Africa as threats grow and budgets shrink Eric Schmitt New York Times March 5, 2014

US plans to  curb military assistance to Egypt Abigail Hauslouhner and Ernesto Londoño Washington Post October 9, 2013

In Afghanistan, a second Guantanamo Kevin Seiff Washington Post August 4, 2013

CIA closing clandestine bases in Afghanistan, marking the start of a drawdown from a region that transformed the agency from an intelligence service struggling to emerge from the Cold War to a counter­terrorism force with its own prisons, paramilitary teams and armed Predator drones Greg Miller Washington Post July 24, 2013 

Drones in Niger reflect new US tack on terrorism Eric Schmitt New York Times July 10, 2013

A predator drone at a US base in Arizona. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images 

A predator drone at a US base in Arizona. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images 

US drone strikes more deadly to Afghan civilians than manned aircraft, adviser says. Study focusing on one year of conflict contradicts claims that robotic planes are more precise than manned counterparts. Spencer Ackerman The Guardian July 2, 2013

Military says law barring US assistance to human rights violators hurts training mission Eric Schmitt New York Times June 20, 2013

Pivoting from a war footing, Obama acts to curtail drones Peter Baker New York Times May 23, 2013

Drone base in Niger gives US a strategic foothold in West Africa Craig Whitlock Washington Post March 21, 2013 At Pentagon, ‘pivot to Asia’ becomes ‘shift to Africa’ Craig Whitlock Washington Post March 14, 2013

Militant threats test role of a US command in Africa Eric Schmitt New York Times February 11, 2013  US will establish base for drones in North Africa Eric Schmitt New York Times January 28, 2013

U.S. expands secret intelligence operations in Africa Craig Whitlock Washington Post June 13, 2012 Contractors run US spying missions in Africa Craig Whitlock Washington Post June 14, 2012 See airbase location graphic.

In Kakola, Uganda the United States has been training troops for deployment to Somalia. The current class of 3,500 Ugandan soldiers, the biggest since the camp opened five years ago, is preparing to deploy to Somalia to join a growing international force composed entirely of African troops but largely financed by Washington.  Photo: Washington Post. View photo gallery

US trains troops for Somali fight Craig Whitlock Washington Post May 14, 2012

US special operations forces are engaged in “more than 100 countries worldwide,”  commander says Stephen Aftergood Secrecy News March 7, 2012 See testimony

Online, Joseph Kony and the Lords's Resistance Army soar to topic number one Josh Kron and J David Goodman New York Times March 8, 2012 See video Kony 2012

US troops now in 4 African countries to fight Lords Resistance Army Jason Straziuso Associated Press/ABC News February 22, 2012 

Pentagon commander says US special forces in India and four other Asian countries BBC News March 2, 2012

Debt and development

US aid plan for Pakistan is floundering Jane Perlez New York Times May 1, 2011

2010 Development Assistance Page Global Page  Hunger Notes Home Page