America’s Role in the Fight Against Global Poverty

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TACOMA, Washington — While every country in the world is diverse and faces a number of challenges, the struggle to fight against poverty is something all nations can relate to. According to the world bank, 10% of the world lives on less than $1.90 a day. Evidently, poverty is an issue all nations must address that fits their specific needs. However, there are some governments that lack the resources and, therefore, the ability to reduce poverty in their respective nations. Because of this lack of resources, the rates of poverty in these underdeveloped countries are only getting worse. In fact, according to the Human Development Report, 54 countries in the world are more impoverished now than they were in 1990. As a result of this recurring issue, the governments of many developed countries have taken on the burden of addressing poverty not only in their own country but in struggling countries as well. Specifically, the United States has contributed greatly to the fight against global poverty.

United State’s Role in the Fight Against Global Poverty

The United States has the world’s largest national economy and is a highly industrialized nation. Therefore, it makes sense that the country has taken on the responsibility of aiding significantly in the fight against global poverty. President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech was largely addressing the United States’ role in diminishing global poverty.

There are a number of ways the United States has contributed to the fight against global poverty. One significant way America has helped feed the world is by supporting farmers and their families. Farmers of the world are vital to the world’s economy as well as the world food supply. However, these small plot farmers—that the world’s agricultural system significantly depends on—often struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.S. program Feed the Farmers has helped approximately 7 million farmers to boost their harvests and keep their families fed.

The United States has also worked to fight against global poverty by encouraging banks to loan to “risky borrowers” by working with Feed the Future. Being able to borrow money allows farming families the ability to make investments that will help them grow. For instance, the U.S. government worked with Feed the Future to help about 17,000 farmers and small entrepreneurs benefit from rural loans and grants in Senegal. This led to farmers’ access to better seeds and modern equipment, as well as weather-indexed crop insurance, and helped negotiate favorable contracts with commercial mills.

The Reality of America’s Foreign Aid Contributions

The United States has received criticism that claims the country can do much more to help the fight against global poverty. Many Americans incorrectly estimate that about 20% of the United States federal budget goes to fighting global poverty when in reality less than 1% of the budget goes towards this cause. Consequently, the U.S. government receives a lot of criticism for not making the fight against global poverty a greater priority since they seemingly have the resources to do so. According to the Baltimore Sun, the United States has the ability to prevent 25,000 children from dying each day.

A Leader in Energy Production

There are many ways poverty experts believe the United States could be doing more to reduce global poverty rates. For instance, the United States has become the world’s largest producer of energy-producing 12.16 barrels of oil every 24 hours, which provides a significant opportunity to alleviate global poverty. In 2019, more than 1 billion people did not have access to electricity worldwide and life expectancy for those without electricity is 20 years less than those that do have electricity. Since the United States has become a leader in energy production many citizens take having electricity for granted, not realizing that access to electricity is connected to so many other aspects of a human’s well-being, such as child and maternity mortality, public health, economic growth and education, among others.

With technological advancements, the United States is increasing its reserves of energy resources faster than it is depleting them and therefore has the power to bring great numbers of people worldwide out of poverty. More than 3.8 million people die every year from indoor pollution created by burning wood, kerosene and animal dung that is used to cook or heat homes. Half a million people die each year from contaminated water and even more die each year from preventable illnesses onset by a lack of heat in the winter. If the U.S. were to export their excess supply of energy sources all of these numbers would likely decrease along with rates of global poverty.

It is clear that as a leading world power, the United States has a responsibility to help in the world’s efforts to decrease rates of global poverty. While the United States has contributed greatly to global poverty efforts, the U.S. can still do more as a leader in the international community. This leaves the United States with the option to use proposed ideas, such as using their abundant energy sources, to lower rates of global poverty, to increase their efforts to reduce global poverty or to disregard their critics and continue on helping in the manner that they have been for years.

—Danielle Wallman
Photo: Flickr

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