Whether through direct experience or the stories of loved ones, we all know how devastating the COVID-19 pandemic has been for our nation, with tens of thousands of lives lost and millions out of work.
In Kansas alone, nearly 50,000 cases of the virus have been detected and thousands of us have lost loved ones. But of course, the suffering caused by this pandemic extends to every part of the world; as we struggle to deal with sickness, loss, and economic difficulties caused by COVID-19, we should not forget the immense challenges that our brothers and sisters in less privileged nations are facing right now.
With the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression underway, hundreds of millions of people from low-income countries are at risk of going hungry this year. According to the United Nations, 10,000 children are already dying from starvation each month due to the pandemic’s fallout. Constrained resources and health care infrastructure will also exacerbate the spread of other life-threatening diseases.
Less developed countries don’t have the health care infrastructure and funding to get themselves through these tough times and, as a result, millions may die from largely preventable deaths.
However, there is an opportunity for the U.S. Congress to help provide much needed international support for these countries without any cost to US taxpayers. Sens. Moran and Roberts can help by co-sponsoring the Support for Global Financial Institution Pandemic Response Act.
This bill would instruct our representative at the International Monetary Fund to vote yes on securing hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of resources for poor countries across the world through a mechanism called Special Drawing Rights. SDRs are international funds issued by the IMF that do not cost US taxpayers a single penny.
While the funding is internationally focused, Kansans should be particularly interested in this, as foreign exports provide a crucial source of employment and revenue in the state, much of them through small businesses. With Kansan exports down by $1 billion so far this year as compared to the same period last year, it is imperative to stimulate the world economy and prevent further recession for the benefit of all.
Sen. Moran understands this. As a member of the Senate Hunger Caucus, he has fought against global food insecurity and recognizes the importance at home. When asked why Kansans should care about global hunger, he rightly stated, "While our country’s collective moral convictions make fighting hunger the right thing to do, the benefits we receive as a nation from reducing global food insecurity also make it the smart thing to do."
Sen. Roberts has also shown leadership in preventing global hunger and saving American jobs. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and recipient of the 2018 Child Nutrition Lifetime Achievement Award, the senator has continuously advocated for Kansan farmers, ranchers, and growers, and is keenly aware of the "role that U.S. agriculture plays in feeding a troubled and hungry world."
The Support for Global Financial Institution Pandemic Response Act provides a perfect opportunity for Sens. Moran and Roberts to continue their invaluable leadership in promoting employment, feeding the hungry, and helping heal a world devastated by crisis. I encourage the senators to join faith leaders, farmers, and other Kansans in supporting this legislation.
John Shively is the director of the Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation at Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in Leavenworth.