The need for emergency humanitarian assistance is huge. Currently 65.6 million people are forcibly displaced. Globally 850 million people lack sufficient food and 3.1 million children die annually due to malnutrition-related causes. Four countries–Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia–are experiencing famine.
President Trump’s budget proposal in 2017 proposed deep cuts to poverty-focused development and humanitarian assistance, as well as peacebuilding programs, while increasing military spending. The House improved these numbers somewhat. A Senate committee increased the funding level further to $51 billion–still below Fiscal Year 2017 but well above the president’s proposed $40 billion. At the time of this writing, Congress has not yet reconciled these numbers and passed the final spending bill for Fiscal Year 2018.
The administration is likely to continue to try to cut international assistance in Fiscal Year 2019, but this will undoubtedly be met with the same bipartisan resistance as it was the previous year. Hopefully the Food for Peace Reform Act will be reintroduced in 2018. The bill would reform U.S. food assistance and allow for more local and regional purchase of food. Food assistance reforms and additional funding could also be wrapped into the farm bill, which will need to be reauthorized in 2018. —Charles Kwuelum