U.S. Population Assistance
Where the Money Goes
Over 98 percent of the world's population growth is occurring in the developing world where access to basic contraception and family planning education is far from assured.
U.S. funding for international family planning goes to two key agencies:
* The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
USAID's population program is recognized worldwide as one of the most successful foreign assistance programs. More than 50 million couples in the developing world use family planning as a direct result of USAID's population program. Since the program began in 1965, the percentage of couples in the developing world using family planning has increased from 10 percent to 43 percent, and the average number of children per family has declined by one-half, from more than six to just over three.
* The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
The United States also supports the United Nations Population Fund. The UNFPA is the world's chief multilateral* family planning organization. UNFPA operates in more than 150 nations around the world - nearly triple the number served through USAID's bilateral* efforts.
UNFPA plays a unique role in international family planning: it helps nations develop comprehensive population plans, and it acquires and ensures worldwide distribution of contraceptives. These efforts help nations slow population growth, achieve economic and social development (including education and basic health goals), and protect the environment.
What The Money Does
Family planning funding from the U.S. government helps people in the developing world control their family size. These funds help underwrite basic health care education and increase access to contraceptive services.
Federal funds do not pay for abortion services or advocacy of any kind.
Some countries where U.S. funding has made a difference:
* Mexico: In 1970 the average family had 6 children. Today the average household has fewer than 3 children.
* Jordan: In 1990 the total fertility rate was 5.6. Today it is 3.9 and falling.
* Kenya: In the 1970s, the average family had 8 children. Today the average family has fewer than 5 children.
* India: During the 1960s, the average family included 6 children. An Indian woman today is more likely to have between three and four children.
The Environmental Connection
As human populations grow, increasing pressure is put on the land. Farm land that was once allowed to rest is now put under continuous cultivation, while forested areas are cut down for firewood or set afire in order to clear the land for crops.
Across the globe, millions of acres of upland watersheds have been seriously degraded in many tropical countries by uncontrolled grazing and cutting of forests, leading to the wholesale loss of wildlife, and the permanent loss of entire ecosystems.
The people of the developing world do not want lay waste to the environment, of course, but with rapid population growth and grinding poverty, few other options are always available. By increasing funding for international family planning, the U.S. can help people in the developing world protect their environmental heritages while strengthening growing economies.