The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed to listen to faith-based organizations worldwide in efforts to help people overcome poverty, illness, and inadequate education brought about by the global health crisis.
WASHINGTON D.C. — According to USAID’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships director Adam Phillips, the pandemic has posed greater challenges to the world, including a rising income gap that has pushed more people into extreme poverty.
An estimated 119 million to 124 million people now earn less than US$2 (about ₱112) a day. Phillips said USAID is working to reduce overall poverty to 7 percent of the global population by 2030.
Pointing to efforts that are underway to improve child protection and strengthen families after about 1.5 million children worldwide have lost a parent or caregiver to Covid-19, he said they expect that “(the situation) will affect families for years to come.”
In response, however, the USAID disclosed it is crafting an interfaith engagement policy, the first of its kind for the agency, that will ensure that it works with individuals and local organizations to create long-term solutions.
Meanwhile, leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies are facing stiff decisions that could boost health care, reduce poverty, and address the impact of climate change in developing nations when they meet in October in Italy.
In a statement, Eric LeCompte, executive director of Washington-based Jubilee USA, revealed that the questions facing the Group of 20 nations, or G-20, range from charting a path to ease the debt burden of poor countries to ensuring more equitable distribution of vaccines in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the webinar ‘Poverty and Covid-19: Challenges and Solutions’, sponsored by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, LeCompte explained that the key to recovery from the pandemic will be ensuring that decision-makers are accountable to follow through on what they say they are going to do.
Kirsten Laursen Muth, chief executive officer of Washington-based Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities who also participated in the webinar, called for a greater voice for local organizations and community groups within the decision-making process of the complex global financial system.
Muth acknowledged that the pandemic has led to setbacks on gains in reducing global poverty, in part because local needs are not being heard or addressed.
“We’re behind in all of those commitments. As we build back better, there really needs to be an intentional focus in not just the specific sectoral needs, the health, nutrition, agriculture…but also real investment in accountability mechanisms that really show how power is being shifted, how leadership is being shifted,” she said. (TRC/JuanManila)