Is there a better way for US to spend $37 billion in foreign aid?

Published: Friday, Sept. 6 2013 5:23 p.m. MDT

As the Obama administration considers suspending foreign aid to Egypt, Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans floated an unconventional proposal for repurposing some humanitarian aid toward enhancing education opportunities.

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The U.S. government gives approximately $37 billion to foreign interests every year. According to the National Priorities Project, that total is comprised of $23 billion for “humanitarian assistance and international development,” and $14 billion that goes toward “foreign military assistance.”

The issue of foreign aid popped up again this week with the news that President Barack Obama is seriously considering suspending a significant portion of the $1.5 billion in annual aid that America sends to Egypt.

“The U.S. provides Egypt with $1.5 billion a year in aid, $1.3 billion of which is military assistance,” the Associated Press reported Wednesday. “The rest is economic assistance. Some of it goes to the government and some to other groups. Only the money that goes to the government would be suspended. Obama will have to decide how much aid will be suspended, but the officials said the recommendation (from Obama’s top national security aides) calls for a significant amount to be withheld. The money could be restored once a democratically elected government is returned.”

In terms of possible avenues for optimizing the results stemming from foreign aid, Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans recently proffered a provocative proposal. Evans published an op-ed piece Friday on the political website The Hill in which he asserted that America could become considerably more efficient at alleviating global poverty by simply funneling more aid into global education initiatives designed to ensure every child in the world receives at least a primary education.

“Investing in education is perhaps the most effective and quickest way to reduce poverty,” Evans wrote. “Children who are literate and know basic mathematics can provide a better future for their families, communities and the countries in which they live. …

“There is more and more evidence that proves increased access to education's impact on issues like the promotion of girls’ and women’s rights, falling infant mortality rates, and increased crop yields. In fact, if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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