30 March 2006
by Jane (of NetAid)
Jane, a young American volunteer and leader in the NetAid Global Citizen Corps
When it comes to fighting terrorism and protecting national security, President Bush has shown he'll do whatever it takes. Imagine what could happen if he demonstrated the same commitment to fighting global poverty.
The way we approach the fight against terror does not have to be separate from the way we approach the fight against global poverty. The President speaks often of the importance of upholding our democratic ideals in the battle against terrorism. By providing more aid to developing countries around the world, the United States can promote the very same values. Simply by providing more aid to developing countries, the United States can gain prestige in the global arena. Just look at the response to the United States' relief efforts after the tsunami. According to Pew Global Attitudes Project, 79% of Indonesians say they have a more favorable view of the U.S. as a result of the tsunami relief efforts.
President Bush has urged wealthy nations to commit 0.7 percent of their total national income to fight global poverty. At the G8 Summit, President Bush promised to double U.S. aid to Africa by 2010. Commendable as these goals might be, months after making them, our government has yet to make any real effort to reach them. At present the U.S. government gives a mere 0.16 percent of its national income to fight poverty (only one-fifth of Bush's proposed commitment), ranking it second to last among developed countries in the amount of aid it provides. The United States has fallen short in providing its fair-share contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. The President's 2007 budget proposal includes cuts for Child Survival, Development Assistance, Disaster Assistance, and funding for international organizations.
We live in a world in which 1 out of 6 people lives on less than $1 a day. We live in a world in which over 100 million children age six to 12 are not enrolled in school. We live in a world in which every hour 340 people die of AIDS. If the United States combined its fervor to fight terrorism with its commitment to fight global poverty, the impact could be enormous. These numbers could change drastically.
I am working with high school leaders around the country to make sure these numbers do change, to make sure the United States government upholds its current pledge of allocating 0.7 percent of the gross national income to fight poverty, and to help our schools and communities make some pledges of our own. We cannot afford to sit back and wait while the United States pursues other goals and misses another benchmark it has promised to meet. Neither can the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty.