5 Bills to Fight Global Poverty

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WASHINGTON, D.C.- Below is a list of 5 Acts to fight global poverty which are currently in the House of Representatives.

1. The Global Food Security Act of 2013

Introduced by Representatives Betty McCollum, Aaron Schock, and James P. McGovern. This is the most recent and most promising political effort to fight world hunger, consisting of the endorsements and cooperation of dozens of United States NGOs including the ONE Campaign, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, and the World Food Program USA. The most notable and inspiring tenants of the act call for: 1) the President to develop a multi-agency strategy for global food and nutrition, 2) updates to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to include a reinvigorated focus on women, nutrition, and small-scale farmers of developing nations. Shifting the political-assistance paradigm towards small-time farmers and their families ensures the optimal amount of hunger-eradication and sustainability. In introducing the bill, Representative acknowledges the U.S.’s significant right and responsibility to supporting global hunger: “That tradition can and must continue. Hunger is a political condition. We have the means to end it; what we need is the political will to make it happen.”

2. Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Aid

Launched by Congressmen Ander Crenshaw and Adam Smith in May 2011. The goals of the caucus are to develop effective strategies and legislation in conjunction with NGOs, international agencies and other effective foreign assistance programs to maximize the effect per dollar spent on international aid. In the caucus’s kickoff, Smith stresses the importance of the U.S.’s investment in foreign aid: “While the U.S. faces serious budget realities, our investment in foreign assistance is an investment in our national security. This caucus will help identify how to spend foreign assistance dollars more efficiently and make the most of our crucial resources overseas.” The latest convening of the caucus acknowledged the glaring shortage of global health front-line workers; despite the current effectiveness that mobilized a 40 percent drop in child death, more training and personnel would increase such numbers. The caucus, which convenes several times per year, is a rare and shining example of bipartisan cooperation towards universal development goals and the strengthening of the U.S.’ reputation abroad.

3. The Global Partnership Act

Introduced by Congressman Gerry Connolly in May. The foreign aid reform bill marks the first significant rewrite of foreign assistance legislation in more than 50 years since the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Connolly’s rewrite simplifies the 33 major objects, 75 priorities and 247 directives of the former act into eight goals: 1) accelerating economic growth, 2) promoting food security, 3) advancing healthy, 4) expanding education, 5) protecting and restoring the natural environment, 6) improving access to safe water, sanitation and shelter, 7) fostering equal opportunity, and 8) strengthening democratic governance. The Act also calls for an online database that transparently reports on all types of U.S. Foreign Assistance.

4. Women, Peace and Security Act 

Introduced and sponsored by Representative Mike Honda. In direct response to the horrors witnessed in the Syrian Civil War and the violence in the Republic of Congo and Mali, and now with the newly opened wound and devastation of Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan, the Act was raised in an effort to protect girls and women from the ensuing violence, abuse and rape in times of conflict. Protecting can come in forms as simple as ensuring that locks are placed on refugee camp bathroom doors, as well as the provision of adequate lighting. The Act is still in need of public interest as well as a co-sponsor in order to go through the motions of Congressional debate.                                                                               

5. Electrify Africa Act of 2013 

Introduced by Rep. Edward R. Royce. The act calls for the President to establish power and electricity solutions in order to spur economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa in the efforts of combating extreme poverty in the area. In addition, the act specifies that the U.S. Agency for Foreign Aid would concentrate its grants and funds to African financial institutions that will bolster to electricity to the region’s poorest people. Investment in African countries’ electricity and energy sector would promote further development projects and U.S. private sector interests in the region.

It is important to note that these are still mere acts, having yet to be fully debated and passed by Congress. Americans must pick their phones and pens, contact their congressmen and representatives to show that U.S. Foreign Aid Policy and humanitarian efforts must be a political priority for the United States.

Malika Gumpangkum

Sources: McCollum, McCollum, Crenshaw, Crenshaw, Connolly, Honda, Thomas
Photo: PBS News Hour

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