Here’s a guest post from our friends at Oxfam America:
One percent. That’s the amount that the ONE campaign is looking to go to foreign aid programs throughout the world – one percent from the US budget.
But let me throw out some other percentages about aid.
Forty two percent – the percent of Americans who believe that cutting aid programs would result in a very large reduction to the US deficit.
Seventy two percent – the number of Americans who favor significant cuts in assistance to other countries.
Twenty five percent – the amount that most Americans believe goes to foreign aid right now.
Here is one more percentage. Forty percent of the world’s population – that’s more than 2.5 billion people – live in poverty, struggling to survive on less than $2 per day. That’s 40 percent of the entire world’s population who can barely feed their families – who can’t educate their children – and who have no access to lifesaving medicines when they are sick.
Yet, right now in Congress, proposals to make absolutely draconian cuts – cuts that would cost lives – to foreign aid are very real possibilities.
And here is the thing – our math is really, really off.
Here are the real statistics.
On February 19th, the House of Representatives voted to cut programs that fight AIDS, malaria and hunger by 40 percent. Programs that promote long-term economic growth were slashed up to 30 percent. International disaster assistance was cut by 67 percent. Refugee assistance – cut by 45 percent. Critical humanitarian aid programs – cut by 42 percent.
But possibly most important – right now, less than 1 percent of the US budget is spent on lifesaving, poverty-fighting assistance. Less than 1 percent.
But we can turn these numbers around. Proposed cuts affect real programs and real lives.
With less than 1 percent of the budget going to foreign aid, we could support powerful lifesaving programs – programs like Feed the Future, which prioritize agriculture and food security for millions of small farmers around the world.
With less than 1 percent, we could give lifesaving assistance like food, water and shelter to millions of people suffering from devastating natural disasters like the Haiti earthquake or conflicts like in Darfur.
With less than 1 percent, we could support the Global Health Initiative, a program that will help to strengthen overall health systems, so countries can care for their own people.
So here is one last percent – 100 percent.
One hundred percent – that’s the number of you that we need to speak up, today.
We only have until March 18th to get the message across. Tell Congress that these cuts cost lives – and that 100 percent of you support 1 percent of the budget going to help the 40 percent of the world’s population who so deeply need this help.
That’s a percentage we can get behind. Otherwise, its just plain bad math.
-Sarah Peck, Oxfam America