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Feasting On Famine

INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY, Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Foreign Aid: The U.S. ships $2 billion in food aid each year to poor countries. Does that make us generous? Well, yes, but not exactly to the poor. In one ravenous boondoggle, most of the aid goes to overhead.

President Bush is right to push Congress to reform U.S. aid ahead of this year's Farm Bill. The changes he seeks are few and small, but they'll mean many more people will get fed.

The U.S. is the world's largest food donor, handing out 4 million metric tons, or more than half the world's total. Whenever and wherever there's famine, we help. But as a new Government Accountability Office report shows, we don't do it very efficiently.

Fully 65% of our food aid budget goes to overhead, leaving just 35% to directly help the poor in famine areas. Even the United Nations looks efficient by comparison; it manages to squander "only" 50% of its own food budget on overhead.

Private organizations like Save the Children spend less than 10% on overhead. Congress could write checks to such groups with effective results. If it can't do that, it can at least learn from them. Continued...

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