TACOMA, Washington — On June 23, Rep. Dean Phillips introduced H.Res. 496, a simple resolution in the House of Representatives that does not need Senate or Presidential approval. The resolution H.Res. 496 is a commitment for Congress to continue to subsidize the United States African Development Foundation and its effort toward empowering African communities facing detrimental challenges, such as food insecurity, insufficient energy access and unemployment — all of which disproportionately affect women and children.
The African Development Foundation Act
In 1977, “Senators Edward Kennedy and George McGovern sponsored” S. 1348, also known as the African Development Foundation Act (ADF). Its goal was to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and establish the ADF, aiming to strengthen underdeveloped African communities through financial aid and self-help projects that may establish friendships throughout the community. The ADF works in cooperation with outside organizations, including indigenous African organizations and other private, regional and international organizations.
In 1980, Rep. William Gray III sponsored H.R. 6288, the ADF Act, which was signed into law later that year as part of the International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1980. By 1984, the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) was up and running. It awarded $838,000 worth of grants to grassroots organizations in Botswana, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Zambia. By 1987, the USADF implemented its development model in 19 African countries and developed treaties and agreements with nine African governments. After 40 years, more than $265 million in awards and 12 million people impacted, the effort to serve underprivileged African communities persists in the 117th Congress.
H.Res. 496: Supporting the Continued Work of USADF
H.Res. 496 emphasizes the significance of the work the USADF does in helping underserved communities in Africa. Aid comes in the forms of seed capital – money raised to cover developing a new idea, business or product; technical support, properly investing the financial aid and skill training that enables and encourages entrepreneurs to create new businesses. This effort stirs the local economy and creates jobs, revenue and an avenue toward success for those who have been marginalized and neglected.
Those who benefit from USADF aid include:
- “Smallholder farmers
- Women and girls
- Nomadic and pastoralist populations
- Ethnic and religious minorities
- Persons living with disabilities”
The new resolution’s support for the USADF benefits not only those in underdeveloped countries who need it the most but it also serves in the U.S.’s best national interest to strengthen bonds between Africa and the United States. By investing in and promoting assistance programs in African communities that help provide pathways to prosperity, the resulting networks of enterprises are better equipped to join forces with other federal agencies.
“The U.S. African Development Foundation is a one-of-a-kind agency and a model for how our foreign assistance programs should function,” said Rep. Phillips in a statement to the press. “This important resolution will underscore our continued commitment to the work of USADF as it inspires economic prosperity, offers sustainable development solutions, and furthers the United States’ foreign policy interests in Africa.”
Rep. Phillips’s resolution is co-sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Karen Bass (D-CA), Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Ami Bera (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), Susan Wild (D-PA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Dina Titus (D-NV) and Steve Cohen (D-TN). As of July 29, the House ordered an amendment to H.Res. 496 by a voice vote.
– Kana Ruhalter