Friday, December 07, 2007


Thomas Riggins

The Millennium Development Agency set up by Congress three years ago to help poor countries around the world has been slow to develop programs and invest the money provided for it ( $4.8 Billion). It has spent only $155 million!

So now the Senate wants to cut the foreign aid budget (to make "savings"). It wants to slash by 50% the available funds. The problem is this. The MDA works out a 5 year development plan with a country and if the plan is approved, funds it. The country involved often spends millions of its own money to make the reforms and infrastructure necessary to get the US grant. Its like a little test of the sincerity of the applicant.

Some countries in Africa have done their part in making reforms, and now need the US grant to build their project. Burkina Faso is an example. BK has spent the last two years following the dictates of MDA has used seed grants and its own money to get ready to improve its educational system with respect to the education of girls. But if the Senate's budget slash goes through BK may not get the money it needs to educate its girls. Its two years of preparations will have been for naught.

This is not Bush-- its the Senate Democrats that want to do this. Here is a quote from Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, chair of the Senate subcommittee on foreign aid, a Democrat from Vermont who wants to cut aid to save the government some money (MDA is less than 10% of foreign aid): "Do we cut maternal health? Aids? Malaria? Do we cut refugees? The only thing that's got a blank check is the war in Iraq."

So cut African girls from getting an education. The Democrats control the Congress, they control the "blank check"! Shame on them!
[based on a report in The New York Times, 12-7-2007]

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