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Exactly What is Development Assistance?
Bread for the World Institute is pleased to introduce our new resource series, Development Works, and share excerpts from its opening piece. When completed later this year, Development Works will include eight short pieces that make the case for effective development assistance and clarify common misperceptions.
Development Works is for Bread members and activists, Hunger Justice leaders, adult Sunday school teachers, and the many others who need answers to questions such as, "Why should we support international development assistance anyway?"
But it's also a resource for the people who are asking these questions. Often, they are concerned about hunger and poverty but do not automatically "buy into" the common arguments for sustaining and strengthening U.S. development assistance. Their impression of "foreign aid" may come mainly from occasional acronym-filled news reports heard during early-morning commutes, or from glancing at a website or two that they may peg as simplistic or as too reliant on blanket statements about what foreign aid does, at the expense of examples and information. They may have absorbed one or two widely-accepted "truths" about foreign assistance without realizing that they aren't actually true.
This series helps people who are open-minded non-specialists in foreign affairs get a clearer picture of developments in global hunger and poverty -- and of why clear majorities of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, consistently join Bread for the World in supporting effective development assistance.
Bread for the World and other organizations working to end global hunger frequently talk about development assistance and how it can help hungry people overseas. But what exactly is development assistance? And why should we support funding for it when many Americans are facing hard times?
Development Assistance Means…. Bees and Chickens
Most of Alexander Appiah’s friends had left his hometown, Nkwabeng, Ghana, to work in nearby cities. But at 28, Appiah wanted to farm. He had few resources; he and his wife were just scraping by with a quarter-acre of cassava and yams and his off-season job as a farm laborer.
A Heifer International farmers’ program gave him the boost he needed. For Appiah, development assistance came in the form of five beehives, 20 laying hens, and agricultural training. He did the rest himself. Americans working with Heifer speak of the impressive work ethic of the farmers in the program. Four years after getting his start, Appiah earns nearly $200 a month from his poultry alone – enough to build a concrete house with an iron roof and send his two daughters to a good school. He is now building a similar house for his parents, and his plans for the future include enabling his children to attend college and opening his own agricultural general store.
Moreover, Appiah has become a teacher and role model. As the elected Vice Secretary of his farmers’ group, he’s in charge of mobilization – spreading the word about the activities and services the group offers. He has shared what he learned in the Heifer training program with other farmers in the area. Appiah is a local man who started with very little himself – as a Heifer staff member pointed out, this gives him an advantage as a teacher. He is effective because he understands what people need to know and uses familiar language to communicate the information to them.
For more easy-to-read information on what development assistance is and why Americans should support it, read the rest of this piece from the Development Works series. Also available now is the second part of the series, "Americans Reaching Out."
Michele Learner is associate editor for Bread for the World Institute.
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