Here’s how you play: we’ll tell you three statements—two truths and one lie. Then you guess which one is the lie. Okay? Here we go…
1) Foreign Aid is saving lives around the world.
2) There is enough food on the planet for everyone.
3) Saving more children in poverty will lead to overpopulation.
Think you know which is the lie? Well let’s break these down a bit more and see if you’re right.
1) Foreign Aid is saving lives around the world. TRUTH
While foreign aid has received a bad rap in the past, it actually is saving lives. In order to set the record straight, it’s important to note how much money the US actually allocates to aid. The US gives less than 1% of its budget, which translates to about $30 billion a year. Of this, $11 billion is spent on health while the other $19 billion goes toward things like building schools, roads, and irrigation systems.
This money is saving lives. Polio, guinea worm, elephantiasis, river blindness, and blinding trachoma are all headed toward eradication, and child mortality rates have already decreased drastically. These statistics are, in part, a result of foreign aid.
A common concern about foreign aid is that it’s wasted on corruption. While corruption absolutely exists, things are getting better. Most of the terrible stories you hear about dictators stealing money come from the Cold War when aid was being used to buy allies instead of truly helping people. However, with all the technological advances we have in 2015, there are better ways to gauge outcomes and track where money is actually going. The Gates Foundation put it this way, “Suppose small-scale corruption amounts to a 2 percent tax on the cost of saving a life. We should try to reduce that. But if we can’t, should we stop trying to save lives?”1
2) There is enough food on the planet for everyone. TRUTH
One in nine people around the world, or 805 million, suffer from chronic undernourishment. Of that number, 791 million live in developing countries. However, this undernourishment is not due to a lack of available food on the planet. In fact, food availability has risen per capita around the world over the last 40 years.2
So, what’s holding people back from receiving the nutrients they need?
Finances. People are unable to buy enough food. Add in conflict, agricultural policy, and government instability and you can see why there’s no easy solution to ending hunger. The good news is that the percentage of chronically undernourished people living in majority world countries has been halved over the last 30 years. In order for this trend to continue, we must advocate and push for thoughtful interventions that provide sustainable food sources around the world.
3) Saving more children in poverty will lead to overpopulation. LIE
At first glance, this sentence makes perfect sense. Fewer children dying means more are living, which in turn increases the world’s population. But, the truth is just the opposite.
On average, parents in poverty have five children, while the majority of the world has an average of two children. The reason for such large families is twofold:
1) A lack of education and resources, and
2) Children are seen as economic necessities. Parents compensate for the expectation that some of the children they give birth to will die young.
When families leave extreme poverty, statistics show, less of their children die and more girls receive an education. In turn, women voluntarily choose to have fewer children. As Professor Hans Rosling states in the video below, “Ending population growth starts by saving the poorest children.” Watch the video to learn more!
Thanks for playing two truths and a lie! Stay tuned next week as we talk about short-term mission trips.