12 July 2017

Africa: As U.S. Pledges U.S.$639Million Aid Agencies Say Speed Key to Saving Lives

Aid agencies say they welcome the Trump administration's promise of nearly $640 million to help four countries dealing with rampant food insecurity but say the pledge is overdue and taking too long to reach the people who desperately need it.

President Donald Trump announced the pledge at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany last weekend, several weeks after Congress approved the expenditures for Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

U.S. response questioned

Noah Gottschalk, a senior humanitarian policy advisor at Oxfam America, decried what he called an “enormous delay” in the pledge being announced.

“It's important to note that just because it's been announced at the G-20 it doesn't mean it's actually been delivered,” Gottschalk said, speaking to VOA from Uganda.

“This has been, I think, one of the slowest responses from the U.S. government we've seen in a long time in terms of getting the money that's been appropriated by Congress sent out from the Office of Management and Budget to USAID [the U.S. Agency for International Development] to actually start programming it and then be able to send it out.”

“We don't really have time to spare, to waste. Lives are on the line, and the money [has] to get out the door as quickly as possible,” Gottschalk said.

Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, said that during his time in government, funding announcements were typically made after money was in the process of being spent.

Konyndyk served as the director of USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) between 2013 and 2017.

“We announced actual funding, not pledges or vague commitments,” Konyndyk said. This, he added in an email response, is in contrast with donors who would announce pledges and sometimes fail to deliver on them.

'World's fastest ability to fund emergencies'

Asked about delays in getting assistance to those in need, a USAID official said the U.S. has moved with as much speed as possible.

“We are continually assessing, analyzing and then funding needs throughout the year, regardless of where we are in the budget cycle,” said Robert Jenkins, deputy assistant administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, in a conference call discussing the new assistance.

“We pride ourselves on having perhaps the world's fastest ability to fund emergencies and redirect funding if need be and put assistance directly where it needs to be as fast as possible,” he added.

Funding helps avert famine

Since October 2016, the U.S. has contributed over $1.8 billion in aid to the four countries to help address what the U.N. has called the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.

To date, U.S. funding has helped avert famine in Somalia and Yemen, said Jenkins.

Jenkins said the new funding will help provide emergency food, nutritional assistance, medical care, improved sanitation, drinking water and emergency shelter. It will also support hygiene and health programs to treat and prevent disease outbreaks.

Africa

African Leaders 'Treat Former Presidents Like Animals' - Obasanjo

African leaders should treat their former presidents with more dignity because currently "we are being seen as animals",… Read more »

Copyright © 2017 Voice of America. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 150 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.