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Drug Trafficking in TajikistanAlthough Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in the world, it has experienced rapid rates of poverty reduction in recent years. In 2000, more than 83 percent of the population was in poverty, while in 2016, the poverty rate reduced to 31 percent. Though rewarding, the rapid reduction of monetary poverty has been unable to address non-monetary poverty issues, such as the quality or accessibility of public services and the persistent problem of drug trafficking in Tajikistan.

The Tajikistani population is faced with a lack of educational institutions, deteriorated healthcare, severely limited access to clean drinking water, high rates of childhood malnutrition, high maternal mortality, a growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, high rates of tuberculosis and inadequate access to electricity, heat and roads. In addition to these daily struggles, the country continues to combat drug trafficking, an issue that is intertwined with Tajikistan’s economy, governance, culture and health.

Explaining Drug Trafficking in Tajikistan

Approximately 75 to 80 metric tons (MT) of heroin and 35 to 40 MT of opium are smuggled into Tajikistan annually, either for transfer north to Russia and Europe or for domestic consumption. Tajikistan’s geographic location, history of political unrest and high level of poverty contribute to the country’s major function as a “drug transit state.”

Tajikistan’s geographic location, with a porous border of 1,400 kilometers next to Afghanistan, has affected the country’s vulnerability for trafficking of illegal drugs to Russia, Kazakhstan and Europe. According to a 2012 estimate, 30 percent of the opiates produced in Afghanistan passed through Tajikistan. The high volume of drug trafficking in Tajikistan has now become equivalent to 30 percent of the country’s GDP.

Drug trafficking in Tajikistan is the product of a variety of interwoven problems. These problems include the continued large-scale production of opium in Tajikistan’s neighboring state of Afghanistan, a growing economic and social crisis in Tajikistan and governmental complicity contributing to the problem. Despite Tajik governmental policies to combat drug trafficking, U.S. counter-narcotics policies in Afghanistan and $200 million of U.S. military assistance since 2001, drug trafficking in Tajikistan not only continues to persist, but has increased.

Common discourse tends to overemphasize the link between the increase in drug trafficking in Tajikistan and the country’s neighbors, who are composed of Islamist groups such as the Taliban. This emphasis places responsibility for drug trafficking with terrorist organizations. However, this explanation undermines the severity of Tajikistan’s economic, social and political crisis.

In 2011, it was estimated that drug trafficking in Tajikistan generated $2.7 billion per year. For a country with an unstable population growth rate of 2.2 percent and a volatile GDP annual growth rate of 6.9 percent, the wealth generated from the drug trade is seen as profitable and legitimate among politicians and state officials.

Since the Tajikistan Civil War, which took place from May of 1992 to June of 1997, drug trafficking in Tajikistan has been a major source of income for the government. State officials, government personnel and military administrators continue to profit not only from the drug trade, but from the outside aid and efforts to combat drug trafficking.

Methods to Fight Drug Trafficking

Prior to 2004, Tajikistan’s government was limited in its methods to put an end to the drug flow. However, U.S. military assistance in the form of vehicles and specialized equipment, the creation of anti-drug squads and the construction of border outposts has served to undermine the flow of narcotics. More barriers positioned along the border has equated to more extraction opportunities for Tajik government officials, facilitated by the severe and persistent institutionalized corruption. The largest drug traffickers in Tajikistan are believed to be among the high-level officials of the Tajik government.

In addition to corrupt law enforcement, drug trafficking in Tajikistan has developed through the efforts of small traffickers, namely Tajik migrant workers who are willing to transport drugs to meet their basic needs. Government corruption and resistance to reform, as well as the country’s limited economic resources, has encouraged the development of illicit drug rings among local administrative officials.

What Can Be Done?

As long as governmental corruption is present in Tajikistan, international organizations and aid efforts have little hope of tackling drug trafficking in the country with any legitimate success. Institutionalized corruption among law enforcement officials, the presidential family and Tajik authorities is seen as a valid and necessary form of wealth production for the state.

International aid and military assistance has, thus far, failed to make any kind of a serious dent in the issue due to the governmental acceptance of drug trafficking and corruption. Drug trafficking in Tajikistan will not significantly decrease without greater emphasis placed on socio-economic development, poverty reduction efforts and the creation and maintenance of basic public services and infrastructure. These basic needs to be met include healthcare, education, transportation, heating, electricity and sanitation.

As a result, drug trafficking in Tajikistan must be fought indirectly. Organizations such as USAID are working with the Tajikistan Ministry of Health to improve basic healthcare services. By creating and building upon Tajikistan’s infrastructure and public services, international aid will be more effective in preventing the widespread corruption and drug trade prevalent within Tajikistan.

– Kara Roberts
Photo: Flickr

poverty reduction
Almost half of the world’s population lives in poverty, defined as having under $2.50 per day. Even more striking, more than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty, which means having under $1.25 per day on disposal. Most concerning, there are over 1 billion children exposed to substandard living conditions.

Several international organizations, such as the IMF, World Bank, and UN, work with governments and other organizations in the world’s poorest countries on daily basis. Their common mission is poverty reduction in poor countries and, ultimately, to end all forms of poverty once and for all.

However, what are the actions currently being implemented? Where can further attention and action be allocated to effectively alleviate poverty?

International Organizations and Governments

The weakest links are evidently countries that lack abundant natural resources, such as sub-Saharan African countries. These countries, such as Cameroon, Benin, and Angola, are home to the poorest people and their governments are unable to raise tax revenues or foster financial resource mobilization. Development of these countries could be achieved through a set of resources such as private investments and development financing.

Coordination with governments to address issues directly linked to the poorest of their population is vital. The Bolsa Familia program in Brazil exemplifies this notion, as the program has established a direct cash transfer to the poorest families. Over 48 million families are enrolled and this has led to extreme poverty dropping from 20.4 million in 2003 to 11.9 million in 2009. That is a staggering 8.5 million people who have been lifted from the severe poverty.

Facets of Poverty – Basic Needs

Typically, poverty is associated with one’s financial situation. Nonetheless, there are several other facets to poverty that must be addressed if extreme poverty, and eventually poverty altogether, is to be eradicated. Of these basic needs, five stand out in poverty reduction in poor countries:

  1. Quality education
  2. Access to healthcare
  3. Water and sanitation
  4. Economic/financial security
  5. Child participation

Improving the well-being of the world’s poor enables them to break the cycle of poverty. Providing a greater home environment and adequate nutrition fosters the success of children in school and of adults in training, which boosts their economic position. One example is Colombia, where education can be the gate key to breaking the cycle of violence and poverty and promoting economic growth on all cylinders.

On Data

In an increasingly data-driven world, developing countries can greatly improve their data on poverty, and by doing so, clearly identify where the poorest citizens live and what their exact needs are. In this way, they can allocate their resources effectively. Crucial improvements include the monitoring of different facets of poverty other than income, while encompassing more dimensions to the problem (social, economic, etc.).

There is much work to be done to resolve the unfortunate effects of poverty. However, solving the persistent problem requires striking straight to the roots.

Collaboration between international organizations, governments and other groups, updating and improving data as well as providing basic needs are all must-do’s in the fight against poverty reduction in poor countries.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura

Photo: Google

How the US Benefits From Foreign Aid to Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan, once part of the Soviet bloc, transformed from a one-party communist state into a republican democracy in 1991. Despite its reforms, though, the country is beset by both extreme poverty and government incompetence. With a significant portion of the population destitute, a thriving illegal narcotics market and ethnic tensions between native Kyrgyz and migrant Uzbeks, American investment in its government and people would see substantive U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan in terms of security.

State of Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s location in geographically-isolated Central Asia and its lack of natural energy resources, such as oil and gas, prevent it from emulating the industrial rise of neighboring economic goliaths, Russia and China.

The inherent difficulty of encouraging economic growth, coupled with institutional problems and social disorder, has resulted in high poverty rates in Kyrgyzstan. As of 2010, more than 40 percent of Kyrgyzstan residents live below the poverty line. High rates of homelessness and unemployment have turned many to narcotics.

Factors Leading to Revolution

Trafficking drugs across a long, unguarded border with other Central Asian countries linked to Afghanistan is a profitable enterprise, making it lucrative to those who do not have sustainable incomes. The second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, Osh, is often referred to as the “drug capital” due to the volume of illegal narcotics that passes through the city near Kyrgyzstan’s southern border.

In 2012, authorities seized at least six tons of various substances ranging from cannabis to heroin. The rampant nature of the drug problem, and the government’s inability to resolve it, was one factor that led to revolution.

In June of 2010, more than 350 people were killed in southern Kyrgyzstan during the Second Kyrgyz Revolution over a variety of issues —  rape, wealth inequality between rural Kyrgyzstan migrants and urban Uzbeks and gang turf wars over the aforementioned drugs were a few. About 66 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s population is Kyrgyz, with some 14 percent identifying as Uzbeks. The violence between the two ethnic groups in the larger frame of regime change displaced hundreds of thousands of citizens and left the region in turmoil.

Ethnic Tension and Cultural Conflict

Poverty is a breeding ground for radicalism. Its perpetuation is often a vicious cycle, wherein poverty causes political instability, resulting in civil wars and terrorism at home and abroad. These conflicts then wipe out much-needed crops and necessary social institutions like hospitals and schools. In Kyrgyzstan’s case, ethnic tension resulted from lopsided poverty and unaffordable utility prices.

It would be a mistake to assume, however, that the conflict between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz is limited to only Kyrgyzstan or Central Asia. In April 2017, an Uzbek born in Kyrgyzstan killed 14 in St. Petersburg, Russia by rail attack. In October 2017, an Uzbek immigrant killed eight in New York by driving a truck through pedestrians. More than 1,500 Uzbeks have joined the Islamic State, ostracized by many of the countries — especially Kyrgyzstan — they once lived in.

This global violence, spawned in part by the ineptitude of a corrupt and autocratic government in preventing the continuance of radicalization, is not in the interest of either the Kyrgyzstan people or the United States. Just as Kyrgyzstan benefits from foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan.

In the decades since the Soviet Union’s dissolution, subsequent American administrations have supplied aid intended mostly for the Kyrgyz Republic’s agricultural economy and on-the-ground humanitarian efforts. But it can do more — more for its government and more for its people.

U.S. Benefits From Foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan

Earmarking additional funds could support anti-corruption initiatives to dampen the prevalence of drug transport and abuse among the population. Increased investment in Kyrgyzstan’s energy sector could also diminish dependence on foreign energy and stabilize utility prices. A reduction in poverty and boost in living standards would increase income equality and alleviate some of the tension between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz that currently plagues the country, and by extension of terrorist activity, the world.

As terrorism is such a buzzword in American politics today, preventing it would surely be high on most elected officials’ to-do lists. Helping the Kyrgyz Republic overcome its multidimensional poverty — which can prevent terrorist activity and save lives both in the United States and abroad — would increase national security at a fraction of the cost of not doing so.

To reiterate: the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kyrgyzstan. The current administration’s plan to drastically cut its designated aid funds would render most, if not all, of these benefits void.

– Alex Qi
Photo: Flickr

How the U.S. Benefits From Foreign Aid to Dominica
Natural disasters occur globally, and many countries overcome these disasters with the help of foreign aid. Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm, hit Dominica on September 18, 2017. USAID has sent assistance to Dominica, which becomes beneficial to the U.S. by building good relations and maintaining a positive reputation by working with other countries in providing foreign assistance to Dominica.

The U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Dominica by Fostering Good Relations

All countries, especially impoverished ones, need help to recover from a natural disaster of Hurricane Maria’s magnitude. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Dominica by stepping in and using its power to help, which strengthens relations between the countries. After Hurricane Maria, Samaritan’s Purse, the Pan American Health Organization and the International Federation of the Red Cross, all under USAID, were able to contribute $3.25 million in foreign aid to Dominica.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Southern Command worked with USAID’s Caribbean Hurricanes Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to help repair roofs in Dominica that were damaged by the hurricane. USAID provided plastic sheeting and DART taught a group of local builders how to use the tools provided to fix the damaged roofs properly. Through donations and direct assistance to individuals, the U.S. is building good relations with other countries.

International Collaborations Build a Positive Reputation

The U.S. has worked with other countries to provide water, food and tools to rebuild Dominica immediately after Hurricane Maria hit the island. The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) contributed about 10 metric tons of food, which fed around 25,000 people in Dominica over three months. By assisting with the WFP’s food distribution, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Dominica by using its resources to help impoverished countries, which grows a positive international reputation.

Collaborations with other countries to help provide foreign aid to developing countries do make a difference and help the U.S. maintain a positive reputation. According to Diálogo Digital Military Magazine, the prime minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, commented positively on the progress the U.S. and other countries have made. He stated, “We have many allies. Thanks for helping my people, without you, our partner nations, it would not have been possible to get past the first phase of this emergency.”

Countries dealing with poverty and disasters benefit from other countries stepping in to help via foreign aid, and that help allows the affected country to get back on its feet. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Dominica through maintaining its positive reputation by doing good for poor countries.

While natural disasters can do great damage to countries dealing with poverty, those countries can also recover promptly with the foreign aid provided by other countries. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Dominica by connecting with its people to encourage good relations, as well as ensuring a positive reputation by reaching out to less developed countries in times of need. The U.S. can retain in its positive relationship with the government of Dominica by continuing to support the country, especially when natural disasters hit.

– Kelly Kipfer
Photo: Flickr

foreign aid helps the U.S.Giving, especially in the form of foreign aid, has shown to cultivate meaningful relationships among people and countries, some that lead to rewarding trading agreements amid other benefits. Recent history has particularly exhibited how foreign aid helps the U.S., which is a crucial consideration in the political dialogue surrounding the current foreign aid budget.

Foreign Aid Helps the U.S. with Trade

One valuable return the U.S. has received in its giving of foreign aid to other developing countries has been the increase in American jobs as well as trade. Foreign aid is much like an investment; it helps to forge the foundation needed for low-income countries to build up and become middle-income, sustainable states. Here are some examples:

  1. After World War II, U.S. foreign aid to Japan helped recover Japan’s infrastructure and highly contributed to the success of American companies like Microsoft.
  2. The U.S. now trades and does business with former recipients of foreign aid, such as South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam and Thailand.
  3. The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) successfully slowed down the AIDS epidemic and countries that received such aid have, in turn, consumed more American goods. Exports rose 77 percent in Tanzania, 189 percent in Zambia and 241 percent in Ethiopia.
  4. PEPFAR is one of the strong determinants of increases in the trade of pharmaceuticals.
  5. Foreign aid has attributed $46 billion more in U.S. exports and 920,000 more jobs in the U.S.
  6. In 2011, 44.6 percent of U.S. exports went to developing countries.
  7. In Tennessee alone, more than $33 billion in goods and services were exported to foreign countries in 2014 and this trade, in turn, supports over 22 percent of jobs, 830,000 local jobs to be specific.

Foreign Aid Helps with Health

Foreign aid helps the U.S. in preventing global epidemics that could otherwise be much worse. While assisting developing countries with their challenges in health, the U.S. also does its duty to minimize any possible health issues and diseases from traveling overseas or across borders to the U.S. There has been a great number of such instances, such as:

  • The U.S. was the largest funder of a number of health workers stationed in Nigeria with the original goal of polio eradication. The workers were later reassigned and succeeded in countering the infamous Ebola epidemic.
  • The PEPFAR program has helped stop the spread of AIDS by supplying life-saving medicines to over 14 million people.

Foreign Aid Helps with National Security

One of the non-negotiable benefits the U.S. reaps from its giving of foreign aid to developing countries is an improvement in national security. To prevent a third world war, the U.S. created what is now the modern development assistance program to avoid further instability in Europe.

Stability in developing countries is key in preventing future political issues from unfolding. The U.S. has defense agreements with 131 out of the 135 countries that it provides foreign aid to.

The importance of international aid lies in economic benefits, such as trading proliferations, as much as health and national security. As evidenced above, it is clear that there is truth in the fact that foreign aid helps the U.S. just as much as it helps other nations.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is a country rich in mineral, agricultural, forestry and fishery resources. The country suffers from weak governance, corruption, limited capacity to deliver basic services, a deterioration of its health system and a concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemic among key populations. 

With the help of U.S. bilateral and multilateral assistance, Papua New Guinea has experienced recent economic progress based around its abundant energy, agricultural and mineral resources. As a result, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea as well.

For the 2017 fiscal year, U.S. aid to Papua New Guinea totaled $9.1 million. The largest areas of focus included strengthening HIV/AIDS services for more at-risk populations ($3.5 million), disaster readiness ($3.5 million) and general climate protection through the Pacific-American Climate Fund ($1.6 million).

Providing the opportunity for stability in impoverished countries strengthens their stability and benefits the U.S. through contributing to trade and foreign relations. 

Trade a Key Way the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Papua New Guinea

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea through trade relations. In 2016, the U.S. had a trade surplus with Papua New Guinea of $35 million. U.S. goods exports to Papua New Guinea totaled $127 million in 2016, while U.S. goods imports totaled $92 million. Key U.S. exports included machinery and mechanical appliances, cereals and aircraft.

The major U.S. exports to Papua New Guinea are petroleum and mining machinery and aircraft. Imports to the U.S. from Papua New Guinea include gold, copper ore, cocoa, coffee and other agricultural products. 

Additionally, through the U.S.-Pacific Islands Multilateral Tuna Fisheries Treaty, Papua New Guinea is able to access U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for a license fee from the U.S. industry.

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea through foreign relations. The United States and Papua New Guinea meet through a mutual membership in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). APEC facilitates trade and investment, economic growth and regional cooperation. It serves as the leading forum in the Asia Pacific community and focuses on developing and strengthening the multilateral trading system, increasing the interdependence of member economies and promoting sustainable economic growth in the region. 

APEC’s work is non-binding, meaning that decisions are made based on consensus and commitments are taken voluntarily. APEC has contributed to the reduction of barriers to trade, such as tariffs, which has led to the expansion of economic growth and international trade in the region.

U.S. Promote Good Governance in Papua New Guinea

In addition to APEC, the United States and Papua New Guinea have a history of close partnership. The two countries work together to combat issues such as improving transparency and good governance, fighting human trafficking, restraining the effects of climate change, protecting fisheries, improving public health and promoting gender equality. The militaries of both the U.S. and Papua New Guinea have a cooperative security assistance relationship that focuses on joint humanitarian exercises and the training of Papua New Guinean military personnel.

Papua New Guinea and the U.S. belong to several of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Pacific Community and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program.

The U.S. aims to improve countries around the world by supporting them with foreign aid. Countries such as Papua New Guinea have shown that the money provided to them has strengthened their economic conditions, and in turn, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Papua New Guinea through trade and foreign relations. 

– Anne-Marie Maher
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to NauruNauru is a small island nation that, on a map, seems like a speck in the ocean. However, there are 10,000 people that live here, and a dire situation faces the population. As the world faces rising temperatures, island nations like Nauru are in grave danger. According to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, sea levels are scheduled to rise between 2 and 3 feet this century. If greenhouse gas emissions are not slowed, sea levels could rise even faster, which would lead to a devastating situation in Nauru producing thousands of refugees and the loss of a homeland.

The current U.S. administration has been slashing budgets for foreign aid, and many have condemned this nationalistic approach to global poverty. The International Rescue Committee has called the proposed cuts “counterproductive and ill-timed,” especially in the face of global instability due to climate change. Considering the ways in which the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Nauru, these cuts seem counterproductive.

President Trump banned the provision of U.S. funds to countries supportive of Georgia’s “Russian Occupied Territories” in 2017. Since Nauru recognized these territories as independent, it is losing U.S. funding in a time of dire need. The U.S. has historically provided direct assistance to Nauru in the form of water-tanker trucks and aid for Nauru’s law enforcement. Many are urging the U.S. government to reconsider, as countries like Nauru are in extreme need of aid.

The fact of the matter is that when the U.S. provides foreign aid, it boosts national security and helps the global economy. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Nauru, as, according to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, everyone is better off when there are more middle-income countries in the world.

Shared prosperity prevents global epidemics and war, and promotes U.S. exports because more countries can afford them. In addition, it promotes global stability and improves the mindset of Americans in a humanitarian manner. Another way that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Nauru is that it will prevent a refugee humanitarian crisis, as is happening in Syria.

More specifically to this country, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Nauru by the provision of seafood stocks to U.S. fisherman. Nauru is home to the world’s largest sustainable tuna fishery. The fishery is a global leader in tuna conservation, and it provides a product that many U.S. consumers enjoy. If Nauru is not provided aid, world tuna stocks will greatly deplete, which would be destructive to this industry.

The World Bank strongly champions the benefits of foreign aid to Nauru in relation to fish stocks, and addressed this topic in conjunction with increasing economic returns and sustainable management. If there is targeted investment, an extra $300 million could be netted without depleting fish stocks. This aid would greatly improve Nauru’s economy, creating benefits for U.S. exporters and fishermen.

The facts are clear: Nauru needs help, and it needs it now. Experts are condemning current U.S. policy that prohibits aid. The good news is, by providing funds to Nauru, the U.S. is also benefitting itself.

– Jillian Fox
Photo: Flickr

How the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Armenia
Ever since Armenia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it has shared a mutually beneficial relationship with the U.S. As a country attempting to recover from widespread poverty and corruption, the benefits Armenia receives from organizations like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are clear. Yet, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Armenia are significant in their own right.

Some of these benefits include increased stability and independence so that Armenia can resist Russian pressure and have closer ties with the Euro-Atlantic community. Both politically and economically, the U.S. has much to gain from cultivating greater stability and economic growth in Armenia.

Achieving Government Stability

Since Armenian independence in 1991, the government has struggled to maintain a stable democracy the Armenian people can trust. Fortunately, USAID is working with both the government and citizens to build trustworthy institutions that work for the people. By creating stability in the region, the U.S. benefits directly from Armenian foreign aid by gaining a trustworthy political ally in the region that champions U.S. ideals and supports U.S. goals. These are a few ways USAID is helping to achieve this goal:

  1. Media for Engaged Civil Public Project
    One of the backbones of a strong democracy is a trustworthy media that properly informs its public. This program plans to set up a healthy media as well as media watchdogs to prevent excessive bias.
  2. Engaged Citizenry for a Responsible Government Project
    USAID is helping to increase activity in local government and create an engaged public. Many Armenians are uninformed about their government or do not believe they can make a difference. This program aims to change that.
  3. Local Government Reform Activity
    By helping to decentralize the Armenian government, USAID is helping to create natural checks and balances in the system and give power back to local areas.

These are just a few of the ways USAID is helping Armenia achieve a sustainable government. The U.S. plans to give just over $3 million for “Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance” as well as “Peace and Security” in 2019. In return, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Armenia through gaining a strong ally in the region that is trustworthy and stable.

The U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Armenia by Developing a Trade Partner

With greater economic stability in Armenia, the country becomes a reliable trade partner for the U.S. While GDP growth in the country has steadily been on the rise in recent years, there is still progress to be made. In 2019, more than $3 million will be allocated through USAID for the express purpose of economic development. Some of the ways USAID plans to use this money to help Armenia are:

  1. The Partnership for Rural Prosperity Program
    Despite consistent GDP growth, Armenia still struggles in the disparity between urban centers and rural areas. This project aims to alleviate this gap by providing economic opportunities to rural regions, improving access to markets and reinforcing infrastructure.
  2. Agribusiness Teaching Center
    This program aims to educate the Armenian public on agriculture and agribusiness while conducting research to help local farmers. As a hub for agricultural knowledge, this center will provide a strong foundation upon which to build an agricultural community.
  3. Tax Reform Project
    This program hopes to create a more accessible dialogue between the lawmakers deciding tax rates and the citizens paying them. It also hopes to reform the tax code in a way that makes it easier for citizens to start small businesses.

Through these programs and others, foreign aid to Armenia is helping to develop a powerful ally that can work with the U.S. as a mutually beneficial trading partner. Programs such as these contribute to a strong trade relationship between the two countries, with the U.S.-Armenia Economic Task Force being an indicator of how well the relationship has developed.

Overall, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Armenia are numerous and significant. By investing in the people of this developing country, the U.S. gains a political and economic partner while helping alleviate poverty and corruption.

– Jonathon Ayers
Photo: Flickr

Danida Denmark's Foreign Aid

Denmark is one of the world’s leading providers of foreign aid. Not necessarily by dollars, but by Gross National Income (GNI). The U.N. set a target for 0.7 percent of a well-developed nation’s GNI be set aside for foreign aid. Denmark’s foreign aid meets that goal and its funds are distributed by Danida.

Denmark passed its first law regarding foreign assistance in 1962. Nine years later, the name Danida appeared to distribute Denmark’s foreign aid. Since its inception, it has gained its own logo and place within the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Denmark’s Foreign Aid Through Danida

Denmark is one of the few nations that consistently meets and exceeds the U.N.’s goal. In 2015, Denmark allocated 0.85 percent of its GNI toward international development. Only six other nations met or exceeded the goal that year. Since 1978, Denmark has allocated at least 0.7 percent of its GNI toward Danida. This year will be no different. 

Danida operates in countries from Belarus to South Africa and from China to Chile. In recent years, Danida has centered its focus on Africa through various programs. Danida also supports non-governmental organizations already working in these countries. Like other nations, Danida also provides research grants to organizations and individuals through its Danish Development Center. In 2018, Danida will focus Denmark’s foreign aid to four main areas:

  1. Streamlining development cooperation projects and humanitarian aid projects in countries with conflict
  2. Focusing on immigration and the proper readmission of migrants not legally able to stay in Denmark
  3. Increasing employment of migrants and people in countries where there are Danish businesses
  4. Educating young people and providing more funding to women’s health and rights 

The Goal: Eradicating Poverty

Danida’s goal is to eradicate poverty in order to stabilize societies and governments. To achieve its goal, Danida funds programs that encourage the following:

  • Social and economic development
  • Human rights
  • Democratization
  • Security and counterterrorism
  • Humanitarian assistance including disaster relief
  • Environmental protection
  • Eliminate HIV/AIDS

Spending Foreign Aid Domestically

In 2016, Denmark began to roll-out a new strategy. According to the CPH Post, 30 percent of the money from Denmark’s foreign aid allocated to combat the refugee crisis abroad will be used to help migrants who have already reached Denmark. This system received mixed reviews. It was praised due to the benefits it would provide migrants in Denmark, including food vouchers, housing and healthcare.

However, critics say that by using this funding at home there is less money to help stabilize the nations the refugees are fleeing. There would be no need to spend this money domestically if these nations were stabilized in the first place.

Denmark is following the lead of other Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Norway, who also spend 20 to 30 percent of the same allocated funds domestically. Both Sweden and Norway also consistently spend 0.7 percent or more of their GNI on foreign aid.

The 2018 budget outlines foreign aid plans and funding for Danida through 2021, staying at 0.7 percent of its GNI. The plan also hints that Denmark wants to keep this going until 2030. Hopefully, Danida will continue to operate well into the future and well past 2030.

– Nick DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

aid creates markets
As public sector debt in developed countries continues to rise, foreign aid has become a target for activists and policymakers seeking to cut spending. The aid budget of the United Kingdom is no exception, with critics claiming that spending on foreigners is wasteful and contrary to national interest.

The country’s Department for International Development (DFID), responsible for administering overseas aid, has rejected calls for cuts in spending by emphasizing that aid creates markets that will ultimately consume British goods and provide higher returns for British investment.

National Debate Over Aid Spending

As one of six countries to reach the United Nations target for international aid spending of 0.7 percent of gross national income, the U.K. is a major contributor to worldwide aid spending. The leadership role the country plays in international aid was bolstered by the passing of a 2015 bill that enshrined the spending target into law, committing the country to sustaining current levels of spending as a share of the economy’s size.

However, in a political environment where nationalist sentiment is rising, exemplified by the 2016 Brexit referendum, prominent U.K. politicians have called for a reduction in foreign aid spending. Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Member of Parliament of the Conservative Party and potential future party leader, has said that with the government budget running a deficit, aid levels are an insane and a costly mistake.

Facing this criticism, Penny Mordaunt, the recently appointed head of DFID, has pushed back, contending that the aid is a moral obligation that also serves British interests. In an April 12 speech laying out her vision for U.K. aid, Mordaunt said that improving global health, security and income is linked to British prosperity and that promoting these goals abroad provides lasting benefits for the U.K.

Notably, Mordaunt emphasized that aid creates markets through the development of economies and human capital, citing DFID’s work in sub-Saharan Africa as having created jobs and growth, benefiting recipient countries but also benefiting British companies by creating new consumers.

Private Sector Partnerships a Key Way That Aid Creates Markets

Mordaunt’s speech also explained how aid creates markets in conjunction with the private sector. Aid will be directed to help African companies to acquire loans through British financial markets, encouraging British investors to direct more capital to the region and spurring economic development. By proposing an aid plan in which British investors could achieve higher returns, DFID is hoping to illustrate another channel through which an aid budget is mutually beneficial to both the donor and recipient countries.

Critics have cautioned of the dangers of conflating national and foreign interests in aid work. In response to Mordaunt’s speech, Tamsyn Barton, chief executive of an international development network representing NGOs called Bond, told Devex that aid programs focused on serving national interests are inherently less effective than those focused on the primary goal of improving conditions in affected countries.

Mordaunt does clarify that aid will not be conditional, stating in her speech that tied aid is bad for U.K. competitiveness and for the recipient nations, but observers such as Barton have warned that this distinction should be made explicit.

Even a country such as the United Kingdom, which has enshrined its commitment to foreign aid in law, faces pressure from domestic critics to redirect this funding home. In highlighting how aid creates markets that benefit the home country, Mordaunt and the DFID are seeking to show that the decision between spending at home and spending abroad is a false dilemma.

– Mark Fitzpatrick

Photo: Flickr