The need for generous foreign assistance

The massive displacement of farmers because of escalated conflicts and drought has contributed to the problem of food security around the world.  According to the 2018 Global Report on Food Crises, about 124 million people were affected by acute food insecurity in 2017 and 74 million of them are in urgent need of life-saving assistance.

Nigeria’s northeast faces a growing humanitarian catastrophe as violence there continues. Nine years of incessant attacks by Boko Haram and counter-attacks by the Nigerian military, along with drought, have caused increased food insecurity, forced displacement from communities and human rights abuses.

In northeast Nigeria, 7.7 million people need emergency and non-emergency humanitarian assistance. Of these, 2.7 million people face dire levels of food insecurity, with 1 million of them children and pregnant and lactating women who need nutritional support.

In this context Mennonite Central Committee is providing support for a conservation agriculture project through a church partner, Ekklesia ‘Yanwa Najeria. The project seeks to conserve moisture in the soil, which helps to improve food production. Efforts like these should be complemented by contributions from the U.S. government and others in the international community.

In February, President Trump released his 2019 budget request. The president’s budget would increase defense spending to $716 billion while making drastic cuts to foreign assistance, which already makes up less than one percent of the federal budget. The budget would eliminate some emergency and non-emergency food programs that include food vouchers, the provision of locally and regionally-procured food to people displaced from their homes, and the treatment of acute malnutrition for vulnerable populations.

Members of both parties have long supported foreign assistance. To continue to alleviate hunger, save lives, reduce suffering and support the recovery of people affected by conflict and natural disasters, we must uphold our values of compassion and love as Christians by advocating to policymakers.

In our task of loving and caring for each other, and prophetically upholding justice, the apostle Paul admonishes us, saying “whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). As Congress begins the budget process for 2019, we must as people of faith urge them to support a robust foreign assistance budget.

 

 Charles Kwuelum is legislative associate for international affairs in the MCC U.S. Washington office. Story originally published on March 28, 2018. Reprinted with permission from Peace Signs

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