2018 USAID Initiatives
The 2018 USAID initiatives included many successful programs to combat global poverty. Certainly, USAID plays a fundamental role in addressing the needs of the developing world through programs that rebuild infrastructure, increase agricultural diversity and reduce crime rates. Here are five facts about USAID’s accomplishments in 2018.

Five Facts About USAID’s 2018 Accomplishments

  1. Food For Peace – In 2018, the USAID Office of Food For Peace provided assistance to 76 million people in 59 countries. It accomplished this through cash transfers, food vouchers, cooperation with regional and local institutions and other services. Food For Peace donated 254,275 metric tonnes of development food assistance. Additionally, the initiative donated 2,244,815 metric tonnes of emergency food assistance. Food For Peace spent $350 million on development programs designed to directly combat poverty. Furthermore, Food For Peace implemented initiatives related to the improvement of agricultural practices and child nutrition in Guatemala.
  2. AIDS Relief – The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) saw great progress in 2018. With the support of the U.S. government, PEPFAR’s work even placed 13 countries with high rates of HIV on the path to controlling their epidemics by 2020. In 2018, the organization expanded vital AIDS treatment to reach 14 million people. Just over six million children orphaned or affected by AIDS received support from PEPFAR. Furthermore, 250,000 health workers received training and were able to go to the countries that needed their help the most.
  3. Access to Assistive Technology – In July 2018, USAID instituted ATscale: A Global Partnership for Assistive Technology. USAID intended ATscale to increase global access to assistive technology like hearing aids and wheelchairs. ATscale’s goal is to provide assistive technology to 500 million people by 2030 through partnerships with the U.N., the WHO and others.
  4. Central America – Another fact is that several 2018 USAID initiatives focused on Central America. Currently, USAID investments are a source of funding for a restructuring of El Salvador’s tax system. Another USAID program provides job training to young adults in Guatemala. USAID cooperates with the State Department to provide community programming that reduces crime rates.
  5. Aid Transparency – In June 2018, USAID introduced its 2018 Aid Transparency Index. This index, run independently of USAID, will make aid data visible to the public. No other development agency has undertaken a measure like this. Consequently, by making data about its spending available, USAID will be more likely to receive increased support for its initiatives, especially ambitious ones such as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Overall, in 2018, USAID involvement was a positive force for the citizens of many countries throughout the world. The U.S. International Affairs Budget funded countless 2018 USAID initiatives that served a multitude of purposes. For example, treating AIDS in Africa or assisting farmers in Central America. Although the projects that USAID funds are diverse, they share a common purpose: to create a more peaceful world. To encourage continued congressional support of USAID, U.S. voters can contact their representatives here.

-Emelie Fippin
Photo: Flickr

Central America Approved to Receive $675m of Foreign AidIn a bipartisan move, the United States Senate has pledged to send $675 million in foreign aid to Central America. The aid will be part of the 2016 budget proposal and will target El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

This foreign aid was agreed upon after the United States experienced a surge of undocumented children attempting to enter the United States unaccompanied. Many of the children were attempting to flee drug-related gang violence in their home countries of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Since last summer an estimate of 68,000 children have entered the United States border with the aid of human smugglers. President Barack Obama declared the large influx of immigrant children entering the United States a “humanitarian crisis.”

The United States was criticized for placing the majority of the children in overcrowded detention centers. Overpopulation of the centers strained budgets and it was often difficult for border security to provide food and medical aid.

As more children kept arriving the United States attempted to find the root cause of the problem to prevent further crossings.

It was discovered that drug-related violence and economic difficulties had increased in Central America. Human traffickers decided to take advantage of the dire conditions in Central America by thriving on the fears of parents. Many who worried that their children would turn to a life of crime with few employment opportunities available or be murdered by gangsters.

Human traffickers spread rumors about sending children abroad to the United States where they would be reunited with parents who were already resided there. For those that did not have parents in the U.S., the gang members convinced several parents that “free” permits were available for the children. The permits would allow them to reside legally and attend school.

As villages were destroyed and children forced to join gangs by force; many parents were left with very little options and often agreed.

Human traffickers had children travel on land from Central America and illegally enter the Mexican border. From there traffickers had the children enter the Rio Grande River Valley to the United States.

It was not uncommon for traffickers to abandon children on the border or on U.S. territory to fend themselves. U.S. reports revealed that the children that did not make it to the United States were either deported from Mexico or human trafficked to other countries.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson described the arriving Central American children as “hungry, thirsty, exhausted, scared, and vulnerable.”

As the crisis increased President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden argued for a one billion dollar aid plan. Instead, the current $675 million aid plan was agreed upon and Central American governments promised to match the foreign aid.

Unlike previous foreign aid that was used to encourage military spending, the new aid plan would stimulate social and economic conditions.

It was argued that previous American aid in Latin America did not work and that violence only increased. Examples cited were Plan Colombia which invested 81 percent of its budget to military and police aid along with the Merida Initiative which used 78 percent for law enforcement in Mexico. Both aid plans that only saw increases in violence in the places it was trying to help.

Unlike the others, 80 percent of Central American aid will target economic sectors and addressing social issues.

The US Senate hopes that addressing the direct problem will provide Central America with economic development.

Although it did not reach President Obama’s goal of one billion dollars, it is still $125 million more than current aid. In a rare bipartisan move, the United States Senate has pledged to send $675 million in aid to Central America.

For now, the United States will continue reuniting Central American children with American parents. Those without American parents will be put on trial and may be sent back to Central America or receive refugee status. With the aid arriving in 2016, Central Americans hope to no longer have to separate their families by sending their children abroad.

Erendira Jimenez

Sources: WOLA, BBC, DHS, American Progress
Photo: Economist