Monday, November 24, 2008

No need to cut aid, just consolidate

A group of food aid organizations released a statement on development aid from the United States. The group says our government could be a lot more efficient with aid if they overhauled their system.

As the Guardian's own Roberta Hampton reports the food aid groups say changes should be made now. The many crisis that the world face with the credit crunch and the inflation of food could undo decades of development aid.

The $15 billion spent by the United States on aid would go further if there was a single agency held accountable for the efforts, said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a coalition of U.S. Christian aid groups.

"When the government is debating what to do about trade or diplomacy, we need somebody at the table in the highest councils of the U.S. government to speak for poor people," Beckmann said in an interview.

Right now, 12 departments, 25 agencies and almost 60 different government offices have a role in developing U.S. aid policy and delivering programs, he said.

Prices for food staples have more than doubled around the world, leaving more people impoverished and malnourished at a time when the United States and other major aid donors are fixated on stabilizing their own domestic economies.

But Beckmann said he is optimistic the incoming Barack Obama administration will see aid spending as an investment in both global security and future markets for U.S. exports.

The new administration will be led by people who have strong track records on global development issues, he said, specifically naming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as well as New York Sen. Hillary Clinton who has reportedly been tapped to become U.S. secretary of state.

Several transition policy advisors to the president-elect have been advocates of foreign aid reform, Beckmann said, noting Obama himself has worked on global poverty issues.

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