Hagel, Leahy Unveil Proposal To Boost Aid To Africa

Bread for the World
Thursday, 21 June 2001

WASHINGTON (June 21) - A bipartisan team of two of the U.S. Senate's most respected foreign policy leaders, Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), introduced new legislation on Thursday that calls upon the U.S. government and its international allies to commit to a global plan to cut world hunger in half by 2015 by increasing poverty-focused development assistance for sub-Saharan Africa.

While hunger has dropped dramatically in developing countries around the world during the last 30 years, it has doubled in sub-Saharan Africa. The Hagel-Leahy Hunger to Harvest proposal cites the calculation by Bread for the World that the goal of reducing world hunger in half by 2015 is achievable through an international increase of $4 billion annually in poverty-focused development assistance. The U.S. share of the effort would be $1 billion a year, or a penny per day per American.

Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, hailed the backing of Hagel, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Leahy, the chairman of the Senate's foreign operations appropriations subcommittee. "We are fortunate to have such a dynamic duo behind the Hunger to Harvest proposal," said Beckmann. "Behind the scenes and on the front lines, Senator Leahy has been a tireless advocate for the victims of war and hunger. The stature, credibility and humanitarian voice that Senator Leahy brings to the table will be an enormous boost as we lobby for the Hunger to Harvest legislation.

"Senator Hagel has long been a champion of poor and hungry people the world over, and not only because it's the right thing to do," Beckmann said. "He also knows it's good for Nebraska. More Africans working their way out of poverty means better markets for American farmers."

The Hagel-Leahy Hunger to Harvest initiative -- the genesis being Bread for the World's research and the focus of its grassroots advocacy this year -- would target U.S. aid programs on agriculture, health, education, small business development and debt relief. The legislation also cites the value and potential of U.S. trade to sub-Saharan Africa: the United States holds approximately $15 billion in investments in sub-Saharan Africa, more than the Middle East or Europe, and total trade with sub-Saharan Africa exceeds that of the entire former Soviet Union. The counterpart House version of the Hunger to Harvest resolution is sponsored by Reps. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.). It currently has 56 cosponsors.

For more information, or to contact Bread for the World, see their website at: www.bread.org

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