A Strong International Affairs Budget. What’s It Worth?

March 9, 2022 By Alexis-Clair Roehrich and Coby Jones

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, it’s easy to dream of a better future. A future where children are safely at school learning with their friends, where store shelves are fully stocked, and where our world is more secure. A better future is possible if we invest in it. While Congress continues negotiations to pass the FY 2022 appropriations bills, FY 2023 looms in the near future. The urgency for fully funding America’s development, diplomacy, and global health programs grows by the day.

There are many ways in which foreign assistance positively impacts the world, but here are five examples of what’s it worth to fund a strong International Affairs Budget for our improved collective future.

Global Health

With the COVID-19 pandemic entering its third year, devoting funding to global health has never been more important. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), one of the primary agencies funded by the International Affairs Budget, has decades of experience responding to global health crises such as Ebola, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Now, it is using that knowledge to address COVID-19. For example, USAID and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) partnered with the Ministry of Health in Belize to train healthcare workers to administer COVID-19 vaccines, resulting in 72% of the eligible population receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. With a strong International Affairs Budget, USAID and other agencies can fully staff and resource methods to the combat coronavirus, and help build resilient, sustainable health systems globally so that we can better prepare for a healthier future for us all.

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity in 2022 is a major crisis. The World Food Program has already issued an early warning for urgent action to combat hunger in 20 situations around the world that are poised to become “hunger hotspots.” The International Affairs Budget provides funding for initiatives, such as the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, that are poised to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis. In 2022, the McGovern-Dole Program anticipates awarding up to $220 million in new cooperative agreements that not only combat food insecurity, but also contribute to early childhood development and education in countries such as Angola, Madagascar, and Tanzania.

Women and Girls

In many places around the world, safety for women and girls has deteriorated over the past few years. The escalation of global poverty and rising conflict have impacted the ability of women and girls globally to live safe and empowered lives. With funding from the International Affairs Budget, initiatives such as the 2X Women’s Initiative, through the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC), work to stem rising inequality and help empower women and girls. The 2X Initiative is committed to addressing the unique challenges faced by women and girls globally and aims to support 15 million individuals, including those from marginalized communities and fragile and post-conflict settings. By investing in projects that are owned by women, led by women, or provide a product or service that empowers women, the agency is working to catalyze an additional $12 billion by 2025. The DFC’s 2X Initiative is funding a future where women around the world have the support and resources necessary to contribute to their local economies, empowering themselves, their families, and their communities.

National Security

As the U.S. Department of State outlines, “America’s prosperity and security depend on peaceful, self-reliant, U.S. economic and security partners.” So when insurrections, coups, and other conflicts arise globally, we see the impact here at home. Combating this rise in conflict isn’t just a military issue; in fact, addressing the root causes of violent conflict overseas through development and diplomacy helps protect Americans and reduce the need to send our servicemen and women into harm’s way. One of the ways in which the U.S. government prioritizes diplomacy is through the Global Fragility Act – bipartisan legislation that reinforces the principle that diplomacy and foreign aid assistance are vital to global security. The Act, still being implemented, aims to anticipate and prevent violent conflict, invest in local solutions to stem conflict, promote partnerships for stability and reconciliation, and enable an effective government response. Funding for the International Affairs budget is essential to fully implementing the Global Fragility Act, promoting national security through global conflict prevention strategies. With Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine and the fragile security and humanitarian situation in Europe, America’s leadership in national security is paramount.

Climate Change

Climate change is a global issue that affects every country on earth but is most acutely felt in low-income countries where climate change and poverty compound to make a striking adverse impact. Some low-income countries will feel the effects of climate change most because of their geographic and climatic conditions, their high dependence on natural resources, and their limited capacity to adapt to a changing climate. USAID plays a major role in mitigating climate change globally and in these communities. By partnering with more than 45 countries to implement ambitious emissions reduction measures, USAID helps build resilience against the impacts of climate change and promotes the flow of capital toward climate-positive investments. Key areas of investment include energy, forests, safety, food, water, and air. These investments through the International Affairs budget help establish a healthier and more prosperous planet.