Understanding U.S. Foreign Aid

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Posted on 11/13/2013


Skills workshops are just one of the ways children in need can break out of generational poverty.
Skills workshops are just one of the ways children in need can break out of generational poverty.

When Typhoon Haiyan brought utter destruction to parts of the Philippines in early November, it forced many to turn their attention to foreign aid and its role in helping countries recover from natural disasters. As government officials from countries affected by disasters seek outside support and donations pour in from all around the world, many questions arise about the nature of foreign aid, and it's not uncommon for knowledge or perceptions to be impacted by these global emergencies.

Although donating to emergency funds is essential after tragedies like Typhoon Haiyan, these catastrophic events also represent an opportunity to learn more about U.S. foreign aid, as well as ways in which you can personally help a child living in extreme poverty.

American Attitudes on Aid

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released the findings of its 2013 Survey of Americans on the U.S. Role in Global Health. With a goal of examining the general attitude and perception on American foreign aid, this survey asked more than 1,500 adults questions about U.S. spending on foreign aid and global health issues in August 2013.

One of the survey's most striking findings is how much Americans overestimate the amount of our nation's budget that is allocated toward foreign aid. On average, respondents said that 28 percent of the U.S. annual budget is dedicated to assisting other countries, when it's actually 1 percent or less. Only 4 percent of respondents answered this question correctly.

That misconception and other obstacles keep many Americans from supporting foreign aid, according to the report. Decreased media visibility of international needs — particularly in the weeks, months and years after a natural disaster — and economic problems in the United States can cause wariness on the part of American citizens.

But Americans voiced greater support of foreign aid when they knew the specific purpose of the funding, like health care for people living in poverty.

Future Priorities

Respondents to the survey say that improving health care in developing countries, offering medical support, protecting human rights and fighting global terrorism are all significant goals.

More than half of all respondents answered that improving access to clean water, reducing hunger and malnutrition, and enhancing children's health care, including making vaccinations more widely available, are top priorities within the sphere of global health. Additionally, 40 percent of Americans or more say that the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, as well as the prevention of global pandemic diseases and the construction of better health care facilities, are important programs to consider when distributing U.S. foreign aid.

More Help is Needed

Because U.S. foreign aid does not begin to address the vast amount of need in developing nations, children and families living in poverty rely on nongovernmental organizations like ChildFund for assistance. The need for nutritious food, clean water, lifesaving health care and educational opportunities is overwhelming in many developing nations.

There are many ways you can join forces with ChildFund to help children in need and their families. To help a child today, please consider making a donation to our Children's Greatest Needs fund. With your support, we can aid children in poverty all over the world by allocating funds where the need is the greatest.