Emergency Ukraine supplemental passes with $5 billion for food aid and security, but no funding for global COVID-19.
Last week the Senate passed a $40 billion emergency supplemental funding package to address the war in Ukraine and the ripple effects around the world. This bill passed in the House on May 10th and has now been signed into law. The package includes $5.8 billion for humanitarian efforts which includes emergency food aid. This will be a crucial lifeline in crisis areas because food prices are at their highest level on modern record.
The emergency food aid package directs funding to multiple agencies and organizations in order to respond to the global food price, hunger, and malnutrition crises.
Notably, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will receive $4.3 billion for the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account. The IDA account is the primary way the U.S. government responds to disaster, conflict, and crisis around the world. This account funds humanitarian responses through USAID Food for Peace and the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. The chart below highlights selected accounts related to food security and nutrition that will recieve funding in this package. The full summary is available here.
There is no single solution to hunger and malnutrition, but it’s clear that more resources are needed. The world is at a very precarious and dangerous place when it comes to nutrition. According to a recent UNICEF publication, 1 in 5 deaths among children under age 5 is attributed to wasting, which is when a child is too thin for their height. Wasting is often a sign of acute malnutrition from recent and severe weight loss, usually from a combination of low-quality diet and illness. Now, conflict and climate shocks are increasing severe wasting where the risk of child mortality is already highest.
As the U.S. foreign assistance efforts work to meet this critical moment, one benefit of IDA funding is that it is very flexible in how it can be spent. IDA supports humanitarian services, including emergency food, water, and agricultural rehabilitation, and helps countries to prepare for, respond to, and recover from humanitarian crises. We will continue to push the government to prioritize malnutrition services within this new funding and programming, particularly for the most vulnerable—including children, people who are pregnant or postpartum, and adolescent girls.
As we celebrate this victory of securing $5 billion for food security and nutrition in the wake of the global food crisis, we know our work is not done. We originally requested $5 billion for food and nutrition security and $5 billion for global COVID-19 vaccinations. But the latter piece was dropped from the package because Congress could not reach an agreement.
The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. The average vaccination rate in low-income countries is closer to 10 percent versus upwards of 70 percent in rich countries. We cannot start to build back better or build resilience against future shocks like the war in Ukraine or climate change, until we address the COVID-19 pandemic.
This emergency supplemental for Ukraine is a good start. But more must be done.