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News analysis: US aid

Analysis: Obama's 2014 foreign aid budget request

By Amy Lieberman11 April 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo by: U.S. State Department

The Obama administration released its fiscal 2014 budget on Wednesday, totaling $52 billion in foreign assistance and support funding, a $2.4 billion decrease from fiscal 2012. In the document, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry noted foreign assistance is a strategic imperative for America — not charity or a favor.

“It lifts others up, and then reinforces their willingness to link arms with us in common endeavors,” Kerry writes at the beginning of the 176-page executive summary. “When we help other nations crack down on corruption, it makes it easier for our companies to do business, as well as theirs… This budget enables us to respond to the dynamic political, economic and social shifts we see around the world.”

As expected, the budget, which will face the daunting task of passing as is through the House of Representatives, where Republicans hold the majority, contains some proposed overhauls to the way the United States administers foreign humanitarian aid. The delivery of food aid, for instance, would look different, channeled more effectively and swiftly into three programs, including a planned $75 million emergency food assistance fund, all managed by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The proposed transition, is being backed by large international humanitarian groups like CARE and Oxfam International.

Funding for USAID would rise slightly next year under the proposal, to $1.57 billion, from $1.52 billion in 2012 and $1.53 billion in the sequestered 2013 budget, while military operations, in form of overseas contingency operations, would be slashed by $184 million, down to $71 million.

Education and cultural exchange programs, which include American research centers overseas and a literacy training center in Pakistan, also would take a loss of $15 million, totaling $309 million. Other educational independent centers and funds, like the National Endowment for Democracy, which provides funds to nongovernmental organizations, also would experience significant cuts, as would migration and refugee assistance.

The budget is dense and only subtly reveals the areas that would feel the proposed fiscal decrease. Some highlights, based on an initial Devex analysis, include.

Global health

  • Overall, funding stands at $8.3 billion for 2014, up from $8.1 billion in 2012 to USAID and State Department.
  • Increased funding, in form of $175 million, for maternal and child health for the GAVI Alliance, to meet the United States’ three-year, $450 million pledge to support new vaccines, essential newborn care, and other priority child health interventions, like prevention and treatment of diarrhea.
  • The President’s Malaria Initiative would receive $670 million.
  • Family planning and reproductive health would receive $534 million to support voluntary family planning services and information.
  • USAID would channel $191 million to fund its programs that diagnose and treat tuberculosis.
  • Neglected tropical diseases programs, through USAID, would receive $85 million.
  • The integrated HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment and other health systems programs would receive $3.94 billion, $1.69 billion of which would support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

International organizations, financial institutions and foundations

  • The 2014 request of $1.57 billion for international organizations marks an increase from the $1.55 billion allotted in 2012.
  • The United Nations regular budget, under this plan, would receive $617 million, up from its 2012 funding of $568 million, as part of the total increased $1.2 billion allotted to the United Nations and its affiliated agencies – the International Labor Organization and the U.N. War Tribunal of Rwanda are the only two affiliated organizations that appear to take a hit in this budget.
  • The African Development Bank would receive about $32 million, the same it received in 2012. The Asian Development Bank would also keep its 2012 recommended funding level of $106.5 million.
  • The Inter-American Development Bank, under this plan, would receive a boost from 2012 from $75 million to $102 million.
  • The African Development Foundation, which provides resources for grants in 23 African countries, would receive $24 million, down from the $30 million it received in 2012.
  • The Inter-American Foundation could also face cuts, down to $18 million from the $22.5 million it got in 2012.

Climate and disasters

  • The international disaster assistance request includes $2.04 billion, an increase in $950 million.
  • USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance would administer $629 million to natural disasters, food insecurity and populations experiencing displacement.
  • The Global Environment Facility, Clean Technology Fund and Strategic Climate Fund would receive $427.5 million.

Economic assistance

  • Economic support overall to countries in 2014 budget dips to $5.45 billion, from $6.14 billion in 2012.
  • $1.2 billion, the largest bulk sum to any region,goes to the Near East to support democratic reform and institutional building. The West Bank and Gaza would receive $370 million of this amount, experiencing a decrease from the $395 million it took in in 2012, while Jordan would receive a $360 million, and Egypt, $250 million — both countries received the same in 2012. Iraq, with only $22.5 million, falls at the near bottom of the list, while the budget report says the government envisions a much smaller assistance program for the country. This is evident from the drop in the 2012 funding to Iraq, which then got $70 million in economic assistance.
  • In South and Central Asia, funding would climb to $1.18 billion, nearly half of which would be funneled to Afghanistan, in form of $535 million. In 2012, Afghanistan received only $21 million here. Pakistan, meanwhile, would receive $513 million, a significant increase from 2012’s $57 million.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa would receive a decreased $564 million in economic support by $43 million, in form of funding for programs that support democratic institutions, education, conflict mitigation and economic growth.
  • At the top of the list, Sudan would receive the most, with $280.5 million, less than what it was allocated in the 2012 budget, when it received $305 million. Then, Liberia would receive a decreased $106 million, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (an increase to $59.9 million) and Somalia (more than doubled to $49.4 million).
  • In East Asia and the Pacific, the United States would give $93.7 million to support a “strategic rebalance.”
  • Fittingly, then, as the United States cautiously weighs a new relationship with Myanmar, this country also tops the recipients of aid, with a projected $51.2 million, a boost from the 2012 figure of $35 million.  
  • Europe and Eurasia would jointly receive $352.9 million, with Ukraine and Georgia as the top recipients.
  • As for the Western Hemisphere, with a slightly decreased budget of $432 million, Colombia, at $140 million, tops, followed by Haiti, at $139 million, in funding.

Watch out for updated coverage including stories on food aid reform and industry reactions.

Read more on U.S. aid reform online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

Amy s headshot
Amy Lieberman

Amy Lieberman is a journalist based in New York. She has reported on migration, health and gender from the UN Headquarters, in addition to nine countries, including Cambodia, Colombia, Mexico and Nepal. Her work has appeared in TheAtlantic.com, The Christian Science Monitor and World Policy Journal, among a host of other news outlets. She is a Master of Arts candidate in politics and government journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.


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