As Super Committee implodes, Oxfam supporters demand that Congress protect foreign aidNovember 23rd, 2011 | by Sarah Kalloch
In the face of the Super Committee implosion this week, Oxfam supporters are out in force demanding that Congress protect life-saving foreign aid.
1. This month, Oxfam volunteers will deliver more than 22,000 petition signatures from all 50 states to Members of Congress in support of foreign aid. Oxfam Action Corps and CHANGE leaders have visited Congressional offices in 20+ states so far, dropping off petition signatures and mountains of sweet potatoes, with the message “Don’t Uproot Foreign Aid”. Why sweet potatoes? Because as Americans sit down to sweet potato pie on Thanksgiving, small scale farmers across Africa are reaping the benefits of this nutrient-rich crop, supported by the very capacity-building foreign aid programs now on the chopping block.
2. This week, three Oxfam Sisters on the Planet had letters to the editor published in Iowa, Washington, and Wisconsin, each with a unique perspective on the benefits of foreign aid to the US and the world:
• Sisters on the Planet Ambassador and leading women’s right advocate Bonnie Campbell wrote a letter to the editor of the Des Moines Register emphasizing how foreign aid builds the capacity of small-scale farmers—especially women. Farmers from the Hawkeye State understand the blueprint for agricultural success— land, equipment, education, seeds, capital, and good government policy. Likewise, foreign policy that supports the entrepreneurial spirit of small farmers in the developing world is central to making sure the world can feed nine billion people by 2050.
• Sisters on the Planet Ambassador Patti Southard highlighted the value of foreign aid to the economy of Washington in her letter to the Seattle Times. Patti wrote about the millions of lives worldwide the aid has saved—and the the $143 million in tax revenue that Washington’s global health sector contributes annually to state and local government.
• Oxfam partner Robin Eckstein, a veteran who served in Iraq and volunteers with the Truman National Security Project, wrote a letter to the editor of the Appleton Post-Crescent in Wisconsin that tied international development to national security.
Robin wrote, “Programs that help teach people to grow food, provide basic medical care and improve living situations stabilize countries. This keeps our military out of places that could become unstable breeding grounds for terrorists and require military intervention….Soldiers, like me, who had boots on the ground in a war also know that seeds are cheaper than bullets.”
GOP Presidential candidates have called for drastic cuts in all foreign aid—with a few saying they would start the budget at $0. These letters are a great reminder to the American people that the less than one percent of the US budget that goes to foreign aid not only strengthens the developing world, but also strengthens our own economy and our own national security. That is one percent we can all stand behind.