Invest to Save Lives and Build Sustainable Communities

The collective contributions of the U.S. government and civil society have led to significant progress in addressing global poverty. But the world is complex; new challenges emerge, and considerable work remains.

InterAction members
are leaders in advocating for poverty-focused spending within the foreign-affairs budget. We start from the principle that U.S. leadership -- in both spending for programs and the institutions that support development -- is critical for the world's progress and represents the best of America. As Congress reviews the FY2016 budget proposal, InterAction is advocating for a collaboration of U.S. government and private resources that are highly focused toward the priorities and needs of the poorest and most marginalized populations.

There are currently 50.2 million people worldwide who are forcibly displaced by conflict or natural disasters -- the first time this number has exceeded 50 million since World War II. With the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, protracted conflict in Syria and the Central African Republic, and the reemergence of violence in South Sudan and Iraq, continued U.S. investment in emergency relief is critical.

These investments support our members who work alongside local and international partners to provide emergency access to food, medical assistance, water, and shelter -- helping communities save lives and alleviate the suffering of those who have been affected by natural and man-made disasters.

To prevent future crises and help build resilient communities, it is necessary for the U.S. to continue investments in programs that help the world's poor and vulnerable populations obtain access to health care, clean water, nutritious food, and basic education, as well as promote economic growth and democracy and human rights.

The U.S. must continue to invest in critical healthcare and water and sanitation systems in order to decrease the spread of diseases and develop healthy, productive communities. The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa underscores how the absence of a strong healthcare infrastructure can impede a rapid, integrated response, leading to the swift proliferation of a containable virus. Along with health care, strengthening of water management systems can help reduce transmission of many diseases, reduce the burden on already fragile healthcare systems, and improve the effects of increased nutrition intake.

Additionally, to drastically lower levels of malnutrition, InterAction urges the U.S. to scale up programs such as Feed the Future, which has achieved impressive results in assisting farmers worldwide and advocating for locally grown food. To increase the likelihood of successful interventions, the U.S. needs to scale up and strengthen partnerships with national governments, civil society, and private businesses.

Please join InterAction members in urging Congress to allocate robust funding towards poverty-focused spending so that the world's poor have the opportunity to lift themselves up. Through partnerships, collaborations and collective resources, the U.S. government and the NGO community have assisted many as they emerge from poverty. Let us continue together to invest towards a healthier, safer, and more prosperous world.

Lindsay Coates is Acting CEO and President of InterAction, the largest U.S. alliance of nongovernmental organizations working on global poverty issues. Coates also serves on boards of the Episcopal Relief and Development as well as the World Bank Global Partnership for Social Accountability.