United States Agency for International Development

From Academic Kids

USAID logo
USAID logo

The United States Agency for International Development (or USAID) is the US government organization responsible for most non-military foreign aid. An independent federal agency, it receives overall foreign policy guidance from the US Secretary of State and seeks "to advance the political and economic interests of the United States." [1] (http://www.info.usaid.gov/)

It advances US foreign policy objectives by supporting:

  • economic growth, agriculture and trade
  • health
  • democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance

USAID provides assistance in four regions of the world:


Origins of USAID

USAID's origins date back to the Marshall Plan reconstruction of Europe after World War II and the Truman Administration's Point Four Program. In September 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act into law and by executive order established USAID by consolidating U.S. non-military foreign aid programs into a single agency.

USAID in the context of U.S. foreign aid

At the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, 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, roughly 22 members of the OECD, known as the Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

However, US levels of foreign aid fall far short of this goal; the US currently ranks last among the world's wealthiest countries at about 0.1 percent of GNP. In absolute amounts, the United States is currently the world's top donor of economic aid, although for more than a decade it was second to Japan, which is far smaller and has been beset by economic woes.

In 2001, the United States gave $10.9 billion, Japan $9.7 billion, Germany $4.9 billion, the United Kingdom $4.7 billion, and France $4.3 billion. As a percentage of GNP, however, the top donors were Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Sweden. The tiny Netherlands (pop. 5.3 million) gave $3.2 billion in 2001 — almost a third of what America contributed.

The 2003 budget of President Bush proposed $11.4 billion in foreign aid with an additional $4.3 billion for peacekeeping operations and to finance, train, and educate foreign armed forces. By fiscal year 2006, the President's budget requested $9.1 billion for development and humanitarian assistance administered by USAID; the Agency will uniquely program and manage approximately $5.0 billion and manage an additional $4.1 billion in coordination with the Department of State.

The fiscal year 2006 USAID budget request totals $4.22 billion in the following accounts: Child Survival and Health: $1.252 billion, Development Assistance: $1.103 billion, International Disaster and Famine Assistance: $655.5 million, Transition Initiatives: $325 million, P.L. 480 Food for Peace: $885 million. In addition, USAID will manage the following programs with the Department of State: Support for East European Democracies: $382 million, FREEDOM Support Act: $482 million, and Economic Support Funds: $3.036 billion.

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," but critics say that the US government more frequently gives aid to reward political and military partners than to advance genuine social or humanitarian causes abroad.

USAID and the CIA

The question of USAID’s relation to the Central Intelligence Agency is a controversial one. Many assert that the CIA has used USAID to provide support for its programs. For example, Louis Wolf, co-publisher of CovertAction Quarterly, who worked in Laos from 1964 to 1967, asserts that some of the CIA personnel working in Operation Phoenix in Vietnam were working under USAID cover. John Paul Vann is another critic who linked the two.

In a lecture given in 2000 at the University of the Philippines-Manila, Roland G. Simbulan described the importance of the CIA’s operations in the Philippines, and noted: “During my interview in 1996 with Ralph McGehee, a former CIA agent, and other former CIA operatives assigned to the Manila station, I was told that the CIA had many unheralded successes in the Philippines such as the manipulation of the trade union movement through the Asian-American Free Labor Institute (AAFLI) and through funds which were channeled thru the USAID, Asia Foundation and National Endowment for Democracy.” [2] (http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/filipinas/doc/cia.html)

Some claim that there was in the past, but no longer is, a relationship between the CIA and USAID. Others disagree. Eva Gollinger, for example, maintains that the USAID was being used by the CIA as recently as the 2002 attempt to bring down the government of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. She offers documentation to support her view that the USAID was part of an "intricate financing scheme" that used "millions of dollars in financing to build and maintain the opposition movement and finance the recall referendum campaign against President Chávez," and notes: "in June 2002, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) set up an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, allegedly for the purpose of helping Venezuela to resolve its political crisis. The OTI in Caracas has counted on more than US$15 million in funding from Congress since June 2002 and has recently requested five million more for 2005, despite the fact that it was only supposed to be a two-year endeavor. All evidence obtained to date shows that the OTI has primarily funded opposition groups and projects in Venezuela, particularly those that were focused on the August 15, 2004 recall referendum against President Chávez." [3] (http://www.venezuelafoia.info/Press-Articles/CIA-coup-proof.htm)


Main article: Reconstruction of Iraq

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. [4] (http://www.washtimes.com/national/inbeltway.htm)

On a April 23, 2003 Nightline, Ted Koppel interviewed USAID administrator Andrew Natsios:

TED KOPPEL: All right, this is the first. I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you're not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?
ANDREW NATSIOS: Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US. The rest of the rebuilding of Iraq will be done by other countries who have already made pledges, Britain, Germany, Norway, Japan, Canada, and Iraqi oil revenues, eventually in several years, when it's up and running and there's a new government that's been democratically elected, will finish the job with their own revenues. They're going to get in $20 billion a year in oil revenues. But the American part of this will be 1.7 billion. We have no plans for any further-on funding for this.[5] (http://http://www.fas.org/sgp/temp/natsios042303.html)

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