There’s no way around it: foreign aid is crucial. When a crisis happens, it’s usually followed by conversations on how to best help those in need. But, wouldn’t it make sense to focus on preventing the crisis? Or, what if we could help communities prepare for them ahead of time?
That’s the vision of the Global Fragility Act of 2019.
The Global Fragility Act would make the United States a more effective leader on international prevention efforts. It asks the State Department, USAID, and the Pentagon to work together on a strategy that addresses the root causes of fragility, including poverty. Why? Because to end extreme poverty, we need to work better to help people in fragile states.
Fragile states are countries or regions that cannot cope with political, security, economic or environmental stresses. Even the smallest shocks to the system like natural disasters or economic downturns can increase risk of conflict, violence, or even failure in state institutions. They also leave the citizens in fragile states with an even more difficult path to climbing out of extreme poverty.
“There is often a clear link between extreme poverty and fragility,” says Tom Hart, North America executive director for ONE. “Experts predict that by 2030, nearly 80 percent of people living in extreme poverty will be in fragile states and regions. Reducing instability in fragile states can save innocent lives.”
The causes of fragility will be addressed with 10 year country or region specific strategies to stabilize fragile areas. These strategies put the voices of local leaders and civil society groups at the forefront and require strong monitoring and evaluation systems.
Long story short, the bill is aiming to help prevent crises from happening in the first place. That means recognizing the need to reduce poverty in fragile or conflict-affected countries.
The Senate bill was introduced by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Todd Young (R-IN). The House bill was introduced by Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Adam Smith (D-WA), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Bill Keating (D-MA), and Francis Rooney (R-FL).