It is still a little under one week since the budget showdown here in Washington, DC yielded a more austere foreign affairs budget than we have seen in a very long time. International organizations and NGOs are still trying to figure what got cut and by how much.
In the latest installment, I receive this note from the World Food Program’s American booster organization, WFP-USA. It would appear that a population larger than the state of Connecticut will go hungry.
The legislation maintains funding for the McGovern-Dole School Meals program, ensuring that 4-5 million of the world’s poorest children will continue to receive a meal in school and hope for a brighter future. It maintains funding for Feed the Future, which will enable 18 million small-scale farmers to rise out of poverty and ensure that 7 million children receive the nutrition assistance needed to develop properly. It also provides support for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, which is leveraging resources from international donors to implement long-term solutions to hunger and poverty.
Unfortunately, this legislation cuts approximately $200 million in emergency food aid. These cuts will eliminate emergency food assistance for more than 4 million people. With record food prices pushing 44 million more people into extreme poverty (defined as people living on less than $1.25 per day), the World Food Program and the NGO community will be forced to make difficult choices about where to cut feeding operations for the world’s most vulnerable people.
On the ground, WFP tends to measure their cuts not by dollar amount, but by calories. So, for example, when a program runs short of money, the WFP institutes half calorie rations for displaced people and refugees, and wherever there is an ongoing emergency in which people lose easy access to food. It really is a miserable situation.