To address the shortage of drinkable water, the Ethio­pian government rents out water distribution trucks to provide water to various remote regions in the Oromia region. (Aida Muluneh /For The Washington Post)

The Feb. 23 front-page article “Trying to hold off disaster” about the Ethiopian drought did an excellent job depicting the impending danger of a humanitarian disaster if aid resources are depleted. While it’s true that humanitarian agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, are meeting the immediate needs for nutritional assistance, the consequences of a shortfall could be devastating for more than 18 million people.

It’s in this context that the 12 percent decline (adjusting for inflation) in the international affairs budget since 2010 is deeply troubling and we risk not keeping up with growing crises overseas. While the administration’s recently proposed budget deserves credit for increases toward fighting the Zika virus and countering the Islamic State, the 19 percent cut to humanitarian programs is cause for concern. We ignore long-term crises, including malnutrition, disease and natural disasters, at our peril. The world already witnessed the effect of inaction in Ethiopia in the 1980s.

Today, thanks to the generosity of the United States and our international partners, another disaster may have been staved off for the moment. But tomorrow, unless new resources are found to maintain our response, that will not be true.

George Ingram, Washington

The writer is chair emeritus of
the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.