UMCOR joins with partners to help build Habitat for Humanity homes in Leogane, Haiti. Partners in Haiti include ACT Alliance, GlobalMedic, Church World Service.
Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity
Partnering to Empower
By David Tereshchuk*
June 11, 2012—The month of June is high season for intense lobbying and decision making in the US Congress about government support for overseas aid organizations.
For UMCOR, as for all voluntary bodies involved in global relief and development, a lot is at stake in the financial outcome of these maneuverings.
Last year’s negotiations produced a final 2012 budget for the US Agency for International Aid that avoided some previously feared deep cuts to assistance programs. But the prospects this summer, looking ahead to 2013 operations, are causing fresh concern.
The House of Representatives’ current State & Foreign Operations Appropriation Bill, for instance, foresees $1.2 billion for the main body of spending by the US Administration for International Development (USAID). This represents a reduction of $73 million from last year’s level, and is $252.5 million below what President Barack Obama had requested from Congress. On the other hand, war-related aid spending is being increased—by $258 million—to cover costs of US assistance programs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
UMCOR stands to be affected, though perhaps not as much as some aid organizations that operate overseas and rely on a sizeable amount of their funding from USAID.
One area of potential impact comes with the running of UMCOR’s field offices overseas. They are often set up in the immediate wake of a disaster, and are initially funded entirely by UMCOR itself. But as crisis-response turns to continuing aid for transitional development, the field offices may win significant funding from USAID—and this is where they may need extra help to counteract any shortfall in public funds.
“Now more than ever,” says Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR’s International Disaster Response executive, “it’s important for our strong base of individual donors to continue supporting us with their generosity.”
UMCOR also gains more insurance against big variances in US government funding by basing much of its work on partnerships with other voluntary agencies and members of humanitarian umbrella organizations. that also are less dependent. These include the global churches’ international group, ACT Alliance; the American umbrella group for NGOs, InterAction; the International Blue Crescent, which is especially relevant for work in Muslim countries; GlobalMedic, the originally Canadian medical support charity; and the interdenominational global ministry, Church World Service.
Some agencies are able to balance their US government funding with other major sources, too—in the way, for instance, that ACT Alliance, like many others, makes a point of gaining funds from the European Union. The EU is the largest aid donor in the world, currently spending nearly $70 billion a year.
Says Crutchfield: “We and the people of regions where we work are fortunate in having the global partners that we have, as well as our strong donor base here at home.”
Your gift to International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #982450, will support ongoing UMCOR projects around the world.
* David Tereshchuk is a journalist and media analyst, and a regular contributor to umcor.org