What is the United States Agency For International Development?

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is a U.S. government-run international development agency. It describes itself as the world's premier development agency. The aim of fostering development abroad is twinned with furthering American interests offshore; the agency describes its work as advancing U.S. national security and economic prosperity, demonstrating American generosity and promoting a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.

Understanding the United States Agency For International Development (USAID)

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was created by an executive order from President John F. Kennedy in 1961. With the global economy still relatively fragile in parts less than two decades after the end of the Second World War, promoting growth in developing countries was considered essential to the U.S.'s own prosperity. Helping nations maintain independence and freedom was also highlighted as a rationale — this should also be seen in the context of the then-existing Cold War, where the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were competing for spheres of influence globally. While U.S. political objectives and America's interests were always highlighted (as could be expected for a government-funded agency), there was also a genuine desire to help global development. USAID describes itself as helping carry out U.S. foreign policy by "promoting broad-scale human progress at the same time it expands stable, free societies, creates markets and trade partners for the United States, and fosters good will abroad." On a more grassroots level, USAID promotes American prosperity through investments that expand markets for U.S. exports and creates a level playing field for U.S. businesses.

USAID Assistance

Development assistance is not simply the act of giving aid, but of supporting development efforts so that recipient countries become self-reliant. USAID's stated goals are to promote global health, support global stability, provide humanitarian assistance, catalyze innovation and partnership, and empower women and girls. Some examples of the type of assistance USAID provides in reaching these goals are: small-enterprise loans, technical assistance, food and disaster relief, helping prevent the spread of pandemic disease, and training and scholarships. While promoting development and reducing poverty are among its aims, it also promotes democratic governance in recipient nations, and helps counteract the drivers of violence, instability, transnational crime and other security threats.

USAID works in 100 developing countries spanning the globe in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Near East, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Eurasia.