Foreign Relations Panel Approves Bill Calling On Bush, Congress To Boost Aid To Africa

Bread for the World
Thursday, 12 July 2001

... Signal To President About Priorities For Upcoming G-7 Conference, Says Leader of Faith-Based Anti-Hunger Group

WASHINGTON (July 12)—The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee today unanimously approved a bipartisan proposal calling for significant new development assistance to Africa and for President Bush to work with other world leaders to dramatically reduce hunger and poverty on the continent.

The Hunger to Harvest resolution, sponsored by Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), two of the Senate's most respected foreign policy leaders, calls for significant new development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa until hunger in the region is cut in half. Aid programs would be focused on proven areas like agriculture, health, education, small business development and debt relief. The Hagel-Leahy proposal also requires that President Bush report back to Congress with five- and 10-year plans for increasing development assistance and reducing hunger in Africa.

"The committee's enthusiastic passage of this measure adds fresh momentum to the growing campaign to secure new anti-hunger assistance to Africa," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a leading faith-based, grassroots anti-hunger movement. "I hope the administration takes note, especially as the G-7 conference approaches. The committee's strong support is only the tip of the iceberg. It is a clear signal that a growing legion of people of faith from across the country wants the president and Congress to lead an international effort to dramatically cut hunger in Africa. If the President were to pick up this baton and run with it, he could be recognized for a historic humanitarian achievement."

Despite advances in other parts of the developing world, hunger and poverty are increasing in sub-Saharan Africa: approximately 186 million people are chronically undernourished (one out of every three) and 291 million people live on less than a $1 a day. The total number of hungry people in sub-Saharan Africa has doubled in the past thirty years. 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. The legislation—the genesis being Bread for the World's research and the focus of its grassroots advocacy—also cites the value and potential of U.S. trade to sub-Saharan Africa: the United States holds approximately $13 billion in investments in sub-Saharan Africa, more than in the Middle East or Eastern 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 101 cosponsors.

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