U.S. Senate Passes Hagel-Leahy Proposal Calling For Additional Aid To Africa, Plan From President To Fight Hunger

Bread for the World
Wednesday, 18 July 2001

WASHINGTON—With wide-ranging bipartisan support, the U.S. Senate passed a proposal early Wednesday evening calling for additional development assistance to Africa and for President Bush to work with other world leaders to dramatically reduce hunger and poverty on the continent.

Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), two of the Senate's most respected foreign policy leaders, recently introduced a resolution entitled Hunger to Harvest: A Decade of Support for Sub-Saharan Africa, which 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 calls on President Bush to report back to Congress with five- and 10-year plans for increasing development assistance and reducing hunger in Africa.

Thanking the leadership of Hagel and Leahy, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, a leading faith-based, grassroots anti-hunger organization, said the Senate's speedy and unanimous endorsement of the proposal should send a message to the White House. "The U.S. Senate is now on record in support of significant new development assistance for Africa. It's time for the Congressional leadership and President Bush to begin delivering on that pledge. As the President's national security advisor recently said, 'global poverty alleviation' will be a 'prime focus' of the President during the G-8 conference. That is heartening to hear, and I urge the President to follow through in Genoa with a substantive plan backed by the resources to make it reality."

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 during 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 Hunger to Harvest initiative - 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 U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa exceeds that of the entire former Soviet Union. The Hagel-Leahy bill has 21 cosponsors. 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.). The Leach-Payne bill currently has 113 cosponsors.

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

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