YAHOO News By Claudia Parsons - Thu Oct 18, 2007

'U.S. aid should tackle poverty before security'

U.S. aid should focus more on reducing poverty in the poorest countries instead of being driven primarily by security concerns, a coalition of U.S.-based charities said on Thursday.

InterAction, an alliance of 165 non-governmental organizations that operate internationally, said that while the United States was the biggest overseas donor, its state aid was handled inefficiently and not directed at the most needy.

A list of the top 20 recipients of U.S. aid includes only four of the world's 20 poorest countries -- Ethiopia, Liberia, Uganda and Tanzania. The biggest recipient was Israel, with $2.5 billion in 2006, followed by Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan.

InterAction president Sam Worthington said that while there was an argument for focusing some foreign assistance on security issues, a broader approach to poverty was needed.

Washington joined the rest of the world in committing to a set of U.N. Millennium Development Goals in 2000 aimed at halving world poverty by 2015, but Worthington said Washington had not done enough to translate that into policy.

A report published by InterAction on Thursday, the first of an annual series tracking U.S. progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, said U.S. official development assistance rose from $13.1 billion in 2001 to $27.7 billion in 2005.

It said the United States was "without a doubt, the world leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS," and was also a leader in world efforts to promote debt relief for the poorest nations.

"It has offered constructive solutions and worked to build consensus (on debt relief)," it said.

But the United States lags behind most of Europe in foreign aid both as a proportion of national income and on a per capita basis. And the aid is increasingly driven by geopolitical concerns rather than by the pledge to end extreme poverty. "In the post-9/11 era, U.S. foreign aid has been recast," it said.

Foreign aid has become more "militarized," it said, with the proportion of overseas development aid managed by the Department of Defense rising from 3.5 percent in 1998 to 5.6 percent in 2002 and 21.7 percent in 2005.

Worthington said addressing security needs in just a few countries was not in America's long-term interest.

"You need to relate to a much broader swathe of countries across the world," he said.

The report said U.S. non-official flows to developing countries in 2006 were $136.7 billion, including $69 billion of private investment and $41 billion in remittances from migrants. The organizations in InterAction raise some $7 billion a year.

However, the report said, foreign direct investment was also not targeting the poorest countries. Upper and lower-middle income countries received 94 percent of the $69 billion in 2006. Only 2 percent went to the poorest countries.

The report said addressing the causes and consequences of poverty should be the primary objective of U.S. official development assistance and it recommended consolidating management of all aid under a new cabinet-level department.

"There are over 20 different ways that foreign assistance is being managed and distributed through the U.S. government, which creates a cacophony of voices with not much effectiveness," Worthington said.

(The full report can allegedly be seen somewhere at

Notes from the Archivist:

The Membership List of seems to be populated with all of the bleeding-heart, liberal, internationalistic, pseudo-religious, America-last organizations.  As such, anything they advocate is automatically on my personal when hell freezes over action-list.  The only one missing is CAIR, not to be confused with CARE which is in fact a member.  Doubtless, terrorist-supporting and much criticized CAIR has high hopes that the notion of putting U.S. foreign aid expenditures ahead of U.S. security interests will gain traction here at home.

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