Facts about Foreign Aid
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was created on November 3, 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Prior to the creation of USAID, there were many foreign assistance organizations that already existed. However, with the birth of USAID came the collaboration of all other foreign assistance programs under one common goal. This was the first time in history that a single agency was given the responsibility to cover of foreign economic development.

Here are 10 facts you may not have known about foreign aid from the United States:

1. U.S. foreign aid was shaped to serve two purposes. First, to improve lives in developing worlds by implementing ways to improve global health, further education, advance food security and much more. As stated by USAID.gov, “USAID carries 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.”

2. In 2012, Afghanistan remained the top recipient of U.S. economic and military assistance for the fifth year in a row. Prior to that, Iraq held the top spot from 2003-2007.

3. Foreign aid from the United States is made up of a combination of obligations as well as disbursements. An obligation is a binding agreement that could have immediate results or some in the future. A disbursement is the actual amount paid by federal agencies by cash or cash equivalent during the fiscal year to meet the obligations set.

4. Though a country can rank in the list of top ten recipients based on obligations, there is no guarantee that they will receive the full disbursement. That was the case for Haiti and Columbia in 2011 that ranked in the top ten recipients by obligation but did not receive that amount in disbursements.

5. Less than one percent of the federal budget is spent on foreign assistance.

6. Foreign aid falls under discretionary spending of a whopping $1.258 trillion dollars in 2013.

7. The five primary agencies providing economic assistance include: the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Health and Human Services. These five agencies account for 93 percent of total economic assistance.

8. Sub-Saharan Africa received the largest share of economic assistance at 25 percent with twenty countries receiving over $100 million in economic assistance.

9. Almost half of U.S. foreign assistance goes to six countries that are Washington’s allies in the campaigns against terror and drug trafficking.

10. U.S. foundations amount to about $1.5 billion a year in international giving.

— Janelle Mills

Sources: USAID, USAID, Greenbook, Foreign Assistance, Reuters
Photo: Seattle Times