The United States Agency for International Development (or USAID) is the United States federal government organization responsible for most non-military foreign aid. An independent federal agency, it receives overall foreign policy guidance from the United States Secretary of State and seeks to "extend a helping hand to those people overseas struggling to make a better life, recover from a disaster or striving to live in a free and democratic country...
USAID advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting economic growth, agriculture and trade; health; democracy, conflict prevention, and humanitarian assistance. It provides assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa; Asia and the Near East, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and Eurasia. USAID is also organized around three main pillars: Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade; Global Health; Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance.
USAID's origins date back to the Marshall Plan
reconstruction of Europe after World War II
and the Foreign Assistance Act
. An executive order
established USAID by consolidating U.S. non-military foreign aid programs into a single agency. As a part of the U.S foreign affairs restructuring laws enacted in 1999, USAID was established as a statutory independent agency under section 104 of title 5 of the United States Code. (5 USC 5312 et seq)
USAID in the context of U.S. foreign aid
Top Recipients of U.S. Foreign Aid, FY 2004
|| Billions of Dollars
|| 18.44 |
|| 2.62 |
|| 1.87 |
|| 1.77 |
|| 0.57 |
|| 0.56 |
|| 0.39 |
|| 0.21 |
|| 0.17 |
|| 0.16 |
|| 0.15 |
|| 0.15 |
|| 0.14 |
|| 0.14 |
|| 0.13 |
|| 0.13 |
At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, most of the world's governments adopted a program for action under the auspices of the United Nations Agenda 21, which included an Official Development Assistance (ODA) aid target of 0.7% of gross national product (GNP) for rich nations, specified as roughly 22 members of the OECD and known as the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The United States never agreed to this target but remains in real terms the world's largest provider of official development assistance. However, relative to its economy, the U.S. is the second lowest provider with a 0.17% of GNI in aid. Only Greece, among the DAC countries, provides a lower percentage of GNI in the form of aid.
According to the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (DAC/OECD), the United States remains the largest donor of "official development assistance" at $23.53 billion in 2006. DAC/OECD reports that the next largest donor was the United Kingdom ($12.46b). The UK was followed (in rank order) by Japan ($11.19b), France ($10.60b), Germany ($10.43b), Netherlands ($5.45b), Sweden ($3.95b), Spain ($3.81b), Canada ($3.68b), Italy ($3.64b), Norway ($2.95b), Denmark ($2.24b), Australia ($2.12b), Belgium ($1.98b), Switzerland ($1.65b), Austria ($1.50b), Ireland ($1.02b), Finland ($0.83b), Greece ($0.42b), Portugal ($0.40b), Luxembourg ($0.29b) and New Zealand ($0.26b).
USAID states that "U.S. foreign assistance has always had the twofold purpose of furthering America's foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while improving the lives of the citizens of the developing world." However, some critics say that the US government gives aid to reward political and military partners rather than to advance genuine social or humanitarian causes abroad.
Syndicated columnist John McCaslin wrote:
- So who rebuilds Fallujah now that the U.S. military is mopping up its operations and securing the Iraqi city? We do, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Prior to the recent fighting, USAID workers were already in Fallujah working with the district government, moderate sheiks and tribal leaders on 17 projects totaling $2.3 million. (Hopefully, all were spared during the fighting.) Now, as soon as security is in place, USAID in Washington says it will re-enter Fallujah and begin neighborhood cleanups, clinic rehabilitation and municipal building repairs, all the time providing short-term employment to residents who will be returning to the city. Upwards of 250,000 residents fled Fallujah, and USAID has been providing many of them food and relief supplies, such as tents, blankets, mattresses, plastic sheeting, jerrycans, buckets, and hygiene and health kits.
Rebuilding Iraq C-SPAN 4 Part Series
In June 2003, C-SPAN followed USAID Admin. Andrew Natsios as he toured Iraq. The special program C-SPAN produced aired over four nights.
USAID itself is transparent on the information distributed to the public about its operations in Iraq. Detailed weekly reports, contracts and special reports are a part of the agency's web site on Iraq.
In 2008, the coca growers "union" affiliated with Bolivian President Morales "ejected" the 100 employees and contractors from USAID working in the Chapare
region, citing frustration with US efforts to persuade them to switch to growing unviable alternatives. The so-called ejection is a part of a concerted campaign by the Morales government to discredit U.S. anti-drug efforts and promote the cultivation of coca as part of the native Bolivian culture. From 1998 to 2003, Bolivian farmers could receive USAID funding for help planting other crops only if they eliminated all their coca, according to the Andean Information Network
. Other rules, such as the requirement that participating communities declare themselves "terrorist-free zones" as required by U.S. law irritated people, said Kathryn Ledebur
, director of the organization. "Eradicate all your coca and then you grow an orange tree that will get fruit in eight years but you don't have anything to eat in the meantime? A bad idea," she said. "The thing about kicking out USAID, I don't think it's an anti-American sentiment overall" but rather a rejection of bad programs." This effort is seen as an overall part of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez efforts to radicalize Central and South American government against the United States and establish hegonomy for himself over the region.
- USAID website
- USAID Overview video short
- USAID-produced Lebanon television short for 2007 public affairs campaign
- USAID-sponsored and financed anti-human trafficing music video
- Highlights of President Kennedy's Act for International Development, Bureau of Public Afffairs, U.S. Dept. of State, June 1961
- Historical bibliography of the United States Agency for International Development, USAID Center for Development Information and Evaluation (CDIE), April 1995
- USAID primer : what we do and how we do it, USAID, rev. January 2006
- Access over 149,400 USAID documents, reports and publications through USAID's Development Experience System (DEXS)
- Access over 9,100 USAID project descriptions, 1946–1996, through USAID's Development Experience System (DEXS)
- The recent top 10 downloaded reports from USAID's Development Experience System (DEXS)
- U.S. Overseas Loans and Grants, Obligations and Loan Authorizations, USAID annual report to U.S. Congress
- USAID's Global Education Database, Displays UNESCO and other Education Data
- The US and Foreign Aid Assistance, article by Anup Shah
- EM-DAT: The OFDA/CRED International Disaster Database
- CE-DAT: The Complex Emergency Database
- Eurodad: Aid Effectiveness, Conditionality, Aid Accounting