U.S. officials tasked with eradicating global poverty say that efforts bore fruit in the past 20 years, but cite development-based aid as the next frontier.
U.S. Rep. Ed Royce and Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (US AID), participated in a town hall on Jan. 11 at Cal Poly Pomona’s Bronco Student Center, discussing the effects of global poverty and possible solutions before a crowd of about 200.
University President Soraya M. Coley gave welcoming remarks at the event, which included speeches by Royce and Shah and a question-and-answer session.
Coley introduced Cal Poly Pomona administrators with a connection to US AID and said the university has 766 international students from 68 countries enrolled, most of them from developing nations.
“So in a small way, we’re working as a part of the development process around the world, training our students in the broad array of disciplines that can only be found at a polytechnic university,” she said. “And many of those disciplines and students are critical to international development and economic advancement.”
Royce, who is serving his 12th term in Congress, lauded Shah’s reforms to US AID and listed some of the agency’s milestones in helping to reduce the number of people living in poverty worldwide.
US AID programs and efforts have helped lift 700 million out of extreme poverty in the past two decades, cut child mortality rates in half and eradicated polio, he said.
Royce, who serves as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said pro-growth policies that emphasize market-based solutions to poverty and push countries to transition “from aid to trade” will help eradicate poverty and thwart extremism.
“Development programs that are treated as humanitarian aid will not succeed in eradicating extreme poverty,” he said. “Market-based economic growth will.”
Shah, who leads President Barack Obama’s Feed the Future and Power Africa initiatives, said that fighting global poverty must include engaging private investors, diasporic communities in the United States and corporations.
Feed the Future is not just about giving food, he said. The initiative involves working with farmers to provide better agricultural technology, he added.
A decade ago, about 12 million children under the age of 5 died every year. That number is now 6.6 million, he said.
“When we help these folks at their greatest times of need, when we help them grow more food, when we help them fight Ebola in West Africa … they know that we’re speaking not just on behalf of American foreign policy, but that we’re speaking on behalf of American values,” Shah said.