World Vision is calling on lawmakers to protect funding for life-saving and cost-effective development assistance programs. Disproportionately large cuts targeting America's humanitarian assistance budget jeopardize the success of global development initiatives and undermine both U.S. global security and leadership.
Responsible stewardship of America's budget in the face of real fiscal challenges requires smart thinking and an honest assessment of the impact of global and domestic investments. Cost-effective programs that have demonstrated results and advance critical U.S. interests should not be subject to some of the largest cuts.
As part of our commitment to "build a better world for children," on April 14 World Vision's Director of Advocacy and Government Relations, Robert Zachritz, prepared and submitted testimony to the House Committee on Appropriations' Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs on the subject of the fiscal year 2012 federal budget request. Following is the complete transcript of his testimony.
Thank you, Madame Chair, for holding this hearing. My name is Robert Zachritz and I am the Director of Advocacy & Government Relations for World Vision U.S., a Christian humanitarian organization working in nearly 100 countries serving millions of children and families. World Vision is dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. In FY 2010, World Vision U.S. raised more than $1 billion for poverty focused programs with 75% coming from individual and private sector contributions. World Vision U.S. has over 1 million private donors in every state/congressional district and partners with over 6,000 churches in the United States. World Vision U.S. is part of the global federation of World Vision International, which in FY 2010 contributed more than $2.6 billion to helping children through international development assistance and employs over 40,000 people worldwide.
World Vision recognizes the tough fiscal environment this subcommittee is operating under and that our country is facing. The budget deficit is a moral issue, as is saving the lives of children who are dying from preventable causes. Budgets are moral documents which enshrine our national values. Millions of Americans who give to World Vision and other NGOs are voting with their donations to support these values.
I want to thank the members of this Subcommittee for their bipartisan leadership in making the case to their colleagues in Congress on the importance of funding these live-saving programs.
The International Affairs Budget, which funds U.S. diplomatic and development efforts, represents about 1.5% of all federal spending. The international humanitarian and poverty-focused development assistance accounts only represent about one-half of 1% of total federal spending. These humanitarian accounts are some of the most cost-effective programs in the federal budget because they save lives through disaster assistance; preventing the spread of and treating global diseases like AIDS, TB and malaria; providing oral rehydration to children who would die of diarrhea; preventing childhood diseases with vaccines; and providing care for orphans/vulnerable children. These programs win friends internationally at a fraction of the cost of our military and that this is why they are so important to national security.
U.S. investment in addressing global poverty and instability is not only morally responsible and in the best tradition of the American people, but also the best way to ensure that we do not need to spend much higher sums of money in the future to deal with the inevitable threats and problems that result from the suffering and problems caused by fragile states. Global diseases do not recognize national boundaries. Dollar for dollar, there are few expenditures in the U.S. budget which are so cost-effective.
Both the Obama Administration and the Bush Administration included diplomacy and development along with defense as part of their national security budgets. World Vision encourages this committee to continue with that precedent.
The United States is a global leader in responding to disasters around the world whether they be earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, floods, or hurricanes. The American people are a compassionate people. In 2010, two-thirds of all American households privately donated to help the people in Haiti respond to a devastating earthquake. The U.S. Government also had a generous response. These acts of kindness are not only the right thing to do, but are also in America's interest to help provide stability after a major disaster devastates one of our neighbors.
However, too often, both Democratic and Republican administrations have underfunded these critical accounts based on the calculation that they can later be increased during the emergency supplemental process. This is not the best way to budget for disasters. For example, in FY 2010, USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance received an overall appropriation of $1.305 billion. The recently passed FY 2011 House Continuing Resolution, H.R. 1, provided $430 million for OFDA, which represents a cut of 67% ($875 million) from FY 2010. The President's FY 2012 budget request for OFDA is $861 million, which represents a cut of 34% ($444 million) from FY 2010.
World Vision recommends a more realistic, reliable budget for disaster accounts by looking at what was actually spent over the last ten years and then planning and budgeting accordingly.
World Vision applauds the bi-partisan support around global health and hunger programs including former President Bush's leadership around the creation and passage of historic global AIDS, TB, and Malaria authorizing legislation, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the President's Malaria Initiative. World Vision also applauds President Obama's efforts to build on these foundations with the Global Health Initiative and Feed the Future. These bipartisan Presidential Initiatives are primarily funded out of the Global Health & Child Survival accounts at USAID and the U.S. Department of State and the Development Assistance account.
World Vision supports:
Much progress has been made in reducing preventable child deaths under the age of five but more can and ought to be done. In the 1960s, more than 20 million children a year died from preventable causes. In 2009, even as the world population increased, preventable child deaths dropped to 9.1 million. Towards the end of 2010, the number dropped again to around 8.1 million, in large part due to anti-malaria efforts. World Vision estimates that this number could drop to as low as 3 million by 2015 if families and communities have access to and provision of simple, low-cost solutions like malaria bed nets, oral rehydration, nutritional supplements, exclusive breast-feeding, skilled birth attendants, and child immunizations. Of the more than 20,000 preventable child deaths that occur each day, it is estimated that 4 out of 10 are due to neonatal complications, nearly 4 out of 10 due to either pneumonia or diarrhea, and nearly 1 in 10 to malaria.
To this end, World Vision strongly supports the President's FY 2012 request of $846 million for child survival and maternal health programs at USAID, which is a $297 million increase from FY 2010 levels.
Thank you, Madame Chair, for the opportunity to testify before this Subcommittee today. I would be happy to answer any questions you or the other members of the Subcommittee might have.