SEATTLE, Washington — As Americans grapple with the effects of COVID-19 at home, it is important to remember that people around the world are also facing increased hardships due to the virus. Providing emergency funding for COVID-19 to developing countries is not only essential from a humanitarian perspective but also crucial to the health and safety of Americans. As Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) and General Anthony Zinni (Ret.) stated, “No matter how successful we are in fighting the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic at home, we will never stop it unless we are also fighting it around the world.”
Impact of COVID-19 on Global Poverty
While it is difficult to predict exactly how the pandemic will impact developing countries, the World Bank estimates that 49 million people will face extreme poverty due to COVID-19. Previously, the global poverty rate had been on a steady decline. However, if these predictions are correct, the pandemic could cause it to rise for the first time since 1998.
This comes as a direct result of the severe economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in developing countries. Those living in poverty or on the brink of poverty will suffer immensely from a sharp increase in unemployment. Food insecurity will also rise, and the World Food Program believes the pandemic could cause widespread famine. Indeed, food prices have already begun to increase as a consequence. In Nigeria, the price of rice rose by 30 percent in just four days.
In the long-term, the World Bank predicts that sub-Saharan Africa will be the region most impacted by COVID-19. Of the estimated 49 million who will be forced into extreme poverty, 23 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. Although Africa has not yet felt the brunt of the crisis, current figures indicate a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases. The week of April 27 to May 3 alone saw a 41 percent increase, indicating that Africa may become the new epicenter of the pandemic.
South Asia will also likely see a significant increase in extreme poverty. According to a report by Brookings, India is predicted to have the greatest rise in poverty due to COVID-19, affecting 10 million Indians. Other South Asian countries, including Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines, will likely see a poverty increase of at least one million people.
The Need for Increased Emergency Funding
Global emergency funding for COVID-19 from the U.S. remains low. The third emergency supplemental package provided only $1.12 billion for the International Affairs Budget, less than half of 1 percent of the total package.
To ensure the health and safety of the world’s most vulnerable, as well as mitigate the longer-term consequences of the pandemic, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition is urging Congress to provide at least $12 billion in funding for the International Affairs Budget as a means to combat COVID-19. Here is a breakdown of this funding request.
- At least $4 billion for the Global Health Pandemic Response — This funding would support USAID Global Health, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It would also create a Global Health Security Challenge Fund to improve health systems in developing countries, therefore, increasing their ability to prepare for and respond to COVID-19.
- $5 billion for Emergency Economic Relief and Humanitarian Assistance — As discussed previously, the pandemic will result in widespread economic and humanitarian crises in developing countries. Thus, this funding would support the humanitarian response to the pandemic, including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programs as well as Food Security Programs. It would also support programs to help protect vulnerable populations, including women and girls, refugees and displaced persons. Not only do these programs help mitigate the economic and social impacts of the crisis but they are also essential to slowing the spread of the virus.
- $3 billion for the Ongoing Frontline Operational Response — This funding would be used to protect Americans who remain abroad, including helping to evacuate them if possible. It would also provide emergency funding for COVID-19 at diplomatic facilities and protect essential infrastructure.
Safety Abroad Means Safety at Home
Increasing emergency funding for COVID-19 on a global scale is imperative to saving lives and combating rising poverty among vulnerable populations. However, it is also crucial to securing the health and safety of Americans. After all, only a comprehensive international response has the power to successfully end the COVID-19 pandemic.
– Sara Olk