Politics of Poverty

87 percent of Americans care about local ownership of US aid

Posted by

New public opinion poll shows US citizens want community groups to have a say in implementing global hunger programs.

Yesterday Bread for the World announced the results of a new US public opinion poll, “American Attitudes Toward Ending Global Hunger.” The headline? “Despite all of the domestic problems confronting the United States, most Americans believe in the importance of ending global hunger.” The online survey, conducted by Weber Shandwick among 1,000 adults nationwide in August, demonstrated that nearly all US citizens believe ending global hunger is important.

The most exciting finding for me, however, was not the confirmation that demonstrating compassion and supporting self-sufficiency are important to Americans. Rather, it was the finding that showed just how important local ownership of US aid is to the general public.

Eighty seven percent of respondents (yes, 87%!!!) said it’s important that the US government makes sure local community groups have a say in how US global agriculture and nutrition programs are implemented. This percentage was fairly consistent across demographics such as gender and income and education levels. Hispanics, Asians, and adults aged 18-34 were the groups who valued local ownership the most, at 96%, 94%, and 94% respectively.

A key finding on the importance of local ownership to US citizens in new Weber Shandwick/Bread for the World US public opinion poll on ending global hunger.
A key finding on the importance of local ownership of aid to US citizens in the new Weber Shandwick/Bread for the World public opinion poll on ending global hunger.

Even considering respondents’ political affiliations, or whether people are donors to charity, the percentage of people who affirmed the importance of local ownership never fell below 80%, with one exception—those who believed that the US government already does too much to end global hunger. Still, among this group, 67% thought people in countries receiving US aid should be able to influence how US aid programs are implemented in their communities. Ninety-four percent of those who believed the US was doing the right amount or too little endorsed local ownership.

Oxfam heard about the findings earlier this month at the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid working group meeting on Feed the Future civil society engagement meeting on September 6th. There FY2012 results from Feed the Future were shared and USAID reported that in the countries where the U.S. made investments to end hunger, the value of agricultural products sold by the 9 million farm households that directly benefitted from FtF increased by more than $100 million.

Beyond the numbers, Oxfam’s experience demonstrates that who’s in the driver’s seat of aid programs on the ground matters a great deal to the sustainability of results. Turns out this is not only important to the people whom US poverty-reducing international aid is supposed to reach.

Across the board, it’s now confirmed that it’s vastly important to us Americans too.

Oxfam.org Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Google+