Letter from the President: March 31, 2017

A little more than three months ago, Donald J. Trump, was sworn-in as the 45th president of the United States.  His status as a political outsider was certainly refreshing to many people who just wanted someone to go to Washington and make things work and help to make life better.  President Trump has brought an interesting and unconventional style of governing to the country.  His campaign theme, “Make America Great Again”, which resonated with many on the campaign trail, is now, with his first budget outline submitted to Congress, about to be translated into policy practice.

However, many are concerned that a more nationalist agenda will mean a retreat from America’s traditional leadership role abroad in development and humanitarian assistance for Africa and other less developed regions of the world.  The Administration’s budget proposals would slash the international affairs budget by up to 31 percent or about $17 billion.  A cut of this magnitude, if approved, is likely to have a devastating effect on Africa.  With just over half of Africare’s revenue coming from the U.S. government, a funding cut like this would significantly impact our programs and the many individuals and communities that benefit from our work in Africa.  So, we, like many other NGOs, are concerned deeply about how the Administration’s budget proposal will affect overall development assistance, and we have joined with others to voice those concerns.

The United States is the world’s largest contributor to development assistance.  Even so, this amounts to a mere 1 percent of our overall spending.  Much of this assistance goes to country programs in Africa and to global programs such as PEPFAR and other programs that focus on Africa.  This good work, and so many of the things Africare does, are placed in serious jeopardy if the budget proposals are sustained.  The work we do to assist  communities to become self-reliant and mitigate the suffering they face as a result of their poverty will be slowed or reversed if these cuts are not rejected.  Africare works in environments where the debilitating burdens of poverty are manifestly acute, but programmatic success—community rejuvenation—can be closely measured.  Losing momentum in these places is a needless setback when so little is required to maintain forward progress.

But this is not a new battle.  Unfortunately, these funding challenges are old, familiar foes we have fought over the decades.  Foes we have not seen in some time lie in wait to ambush our development efforts and turn back our progress.  Drought conditions have set the stage for widespread famine in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and South Sudan.  Violent conflict only exacerbates these conditions. Funding challenges in the face of these obstacles mean that we must work doubly hard to overcome them. Support for the kind of work we do requires continued vigilance and the goodwill of people like you.

Over the years, Africare has worked tirelessly to build quality, sustainable and scalable development programs. Of this, you can be justifiably proud.  But even in the midst of new U.S. government policy priorities, natural and man-made disasters, and potential funding shortfalls, I am steadfast in my belief and secure in my hope that Africare will keep breaking new ground in the pursuit of its mission to help improve the lives of ordinary Africans.

Africare has a broad and dedicated base of friends and supporters—governments, foundations, faith-based organizations, social services organizations, corporations, and individuals.  We will know more in the weeks and days ahead about budget cuts and how they will impact us, but what we know now, and for certain, is that we need you more than ever.