Trump’s Foreign Aid Cuts An Opportunity For Liberia To Prove Their Capacity

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

President Donald Trump’s proposed plan to cut foreign aid funding to African countries provides an opportunity for nations such as Liberia to stand on their own and take responsibility for the well-being and future of their people.

In March the American president unveiled a plan to cut funding by 28 percent for the State Department and USAID, which are the country’s main foreign assistance facilitators.

The budget proposal will see a massive cut in funding to African beneficiaries, with West African nations such as Liberia set to lose out on a significant amount of aid from the U.S.

At the moment Liberia stands out as one of the biggest beneficiaries of U.S. aid in relation to its population. This is due to the increase in funding over the last few years in reaction to the outbreak of Ebola, which ravaged the West African nation, killing 4,810 people in Liberia alone.

In 2015, the U.S. contributed $511 million in aid to a Liberian population of 4.5 million people, according to USAID. That works out to around $114 in aid per Liberian.

In comparison, the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was the biggest African recipient of U.S. foreign aid in the same year, received a total of $852 million, but their population of 77 million people puts that figure at around $11 per person.

Liberia will now have the chance to prove itself on the international stage, Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai said.

“The U.S. will look to us to become responsible. I don’t think anybody wants to have a country that will just be a liability to the other country for many years,” Boakai explained to Newsweek.

He went on to compare Liberia to a child that needs to be given a certain amount of freedom from their parents in order to prove their capacity.

“Overprotected children cannot be self reliant; we cannot continue to be a country living on handouts,” he added.

The outspoken Liberian politician understands that his country will continue to need help in emergency situations such as the Ebola outbreak, but believes his nation needs to gradually be given the opportunity to stand on their own two feet.

“Foreign aid is good, but Liberia is such a rich country that if we take the right measures, we probably won’t need much,” said the vice-president, who is running to be president of the country in the October elections.

“So we will continue to relate to the United States and other friends, but I think we have to become more responsible as a country.”

Foreign aid impact immense on healthcare

On the other side of the argument, it is fundamental to take note of the impact that foreign aid has had on Africa, especially with regards to healthcare.

American aid has been important in attaining major progress on the African continent over the last decade and a half, with the country’s commitment alongside other first world countries to the Millennium Development Goals bearing fruit.

Thanks to numerous initiatives made possible by foreign aid funding, the last 15 years have seen new HIV infections drop by around a third, while tuberculosis deaths declined by 3.7 percent during the period of 2000 to 2013, according to the United Nations.

During that same time, child deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa declined by 31.5 percent, and the mortality rate for children under five more than halved.