Novel ad campaign urges no cuts to poverty-fighting foreign aid

By ebhatti

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WASHINGTON, DC – International relief and development organization Oxfam America kicked off a new public effort today urging Congress not to cut foreign aid programs that fight poverty and hunger. The push includes a robust multi-platform advertising buy in the Washington, DC metropolitan area (National and Dulles Airports, DC Metro stations and Roll Call) and highlights how American poverty-focused assistance saves lives and helps millions of people lift themselves out of poverty, all for less than 1% of the federal budget.

The hard-hitting ads superimpose DC insider buzzwords, such as “job creator” and “beltway outsider” with decidedly non-DC imagery—people surrounded by fishing boats in Ghana, a plant nursery in Tanzania, a roadway in Malawi. By showcasing community leaders and advocates in developing countries who have leveraged US foreign aid investments in their work, Oxfam’s ads create dramatic effects. The ads also highlight the measurable impact that can be achieved utilizing US foreign assistance when the US partners with local leaders who are engaged in fighting poverty and injustice in their own countries.

“People in America should know this: American foreign aid is working. With a small investment from partners like USAID, my organization has successfully advocated for improved health services in communities that previously had none,” said Martha Kwataine one of the civil society leaders featured in the ad campaign. “Last year, at least 10,000 more Malawians had access to basic health services as a result of our advocacy.”

Alongside Ms. Kwataine, the ads feature Emiliana Aligaesha, a farmer in Tanzania, Manuel Dominguez, the mayor of a Peruvian town and Nana Kojo Kondua IV, chief of a Ghanaian fishing town, all who are turning small aid investments to create a sound future for their nations and their communities.

“People like Martha, Emiliana, Manuel and Kojo are having dramatic impacts in their communities with the US as their partner. What they lack are the well-heeled lobbyists to fight for their interests in the ongoing budget battle,” said Gregory Adams, director of Oxfam America’s aid effectiveness program. “As an organization committed to fighting poverty and injustice, we have taken it upon ourselves to deepen the US government’s commitment to making aid more effective so that people can bring themselves out of poverty.”

Mayor Manuel Dominguez of San Martin Alao in Peru, also featured in the ad campaign, was committed to using his limited city budget as best as he could to tackle the problem of waste management in his city. However it was not until USAID began providing technical assistance to the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, that Dominguez succeeded getting significant funds from the Peru government.

“My people and I can stop pollution in our district. We just needed a partner. We know how to get it done,” Dominguez says.

Many people’s futures depend on less than 1% of the US budget that supports poverty-reducing foreign aid. These programs give the world’s poorest people the tools they need to help lift themselves out of hunger and poverty, help build a stable, inclusive global economy with new sources of prosperity and advance democracy and human rights. Strategic and effective aid investments also help make a safer world today and avert costlier interventions and humanitarian emergencies tomorrow.

“Foreign aid works best when it helps local people take charge of tackling their own problems—supporting them to build a dream, build a business, support their family, or help their community,” continued Adams. “It is precisely these kinds of programs that we must keep off of Washington’s chopping block.”