The following 15 foreign aid statistics help to understand the topic of foreign assistance. Most Americans don’t know much about U.S. foreign aid. There are many misconceptions about what foreign aid is and how much of the federal budget goes to it each year. Here are 15 foreign aid statistics.

  1. The U.S. government states, “Foreign assistance is aid given by the United States to other countries to support global peace, security, and development efforts and provide humanitarian relief during times of crisis. It is a strategic, economic and moral imperative for the U.S. and vital to U.S. national security.”
  2. The first U.S. aid program was created in the aftermath of World War II.
  3. In 1961 Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act which created The United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
  4. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study in 2015 and found that most Americans thought the U.S. spends too much on foreign aid. Twenty-six percent was the guess for how much of the total federal budget goes towards it.
  5. Out of the total $4.15 trillion proposed budget for 2017 by Obama, $42.4 billion was set aside for foreign assistance.
  6. $25.6 billion was set for economic and development assistance. The top three countries receiving this aid are Afghanistan, Jordan and Kenya.
  7. Economic and development assistance includes many programs, the largest being Global Health Programs, Economic Support Fund, Development Assistance and Migration and Refugee Assistance.
  8. Within Global Health Programs, most of what the U.S. gives goes towards fighting HIV/AIDS.
  9. Some of the smaller programs falling under economic and development assistance include International Disaster Assistance, Food for Peace, Millennium Challenge and The Peace Corps.
  10. About $16.8 billion was budgeted for U.S. security assistance in 2017. The top three countries receiving this aid are Afghanistan, Israel and Egypt.
  11. The main programs falling under U.S. security assistance include Foreign Military Financing, Afghanistan Security Forces Fund and Coalition Support Funds.
  12. The U.S. spent more than $14 billion from the foreign aid budget on deliveries of arms sales in 2015. According to The Washington Post, “in terms of arms sales, [the United States] controls at least half of the global market.” The top three countries receiving these deliveries were Saudi Arabia, Australia and Iraq.
  13.  Less than one percent of the entire U.S. annual budget is spent on International Development and Humanitarian Assistance.
  14.  Oxfam says three changes to U.S. foreign aid would help make it more effective: “Focus first and foremost on fighting poverty. Recognize that local citizens and governments are in charge of their countries’ futures. Put more U.S. aid resources in their hands. Continue to provide more useful information about U.S. aid.”
  15. In an interview with NPR, Phyllis Pomerantz (public policy professor at Duke University) said, “On the one hand, you can say that the U.S. is the most generous because it is one of the biggest donators to foreign aid, but on the other hand, we have one of the lowest percentages of gross national income donated to foreign aid.”

These 15 foreign aid statistics help to better understand what U.S. foreign aid is, how much money goes where and what needs to be reworked as we look towards the future.

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr