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How the US Benefits From Foreign Aid to Paraguay
With federal aid, the U.S. has the opportunity to advocate economic and social growth for other countries. This reputation has earned the trust and cooperation of many nations around the world, including Paraguay.

Located in South America, Paraguay is a nation with lush tropical forests and agricultural activity. Paraguay struggles more in comparison with other Latin American countries in several socioeconomic categories such as potable water and secondary school enrollment.

With the assistance of the U.S., Paraguay is progressing in reducing poverty and corruption. As a result of strong production and high global prices, Paraguay’s economy has grown at an average of four percent every year since 2014.

U.S. Assistance to Paraguay

The United States has supported Paraguay’s democracy and economic reform through foreign aid since 1861, just fifty years after Paraguay declared its independence from Spain. For the 2018 fiscal year, $400,000 of the $28 billion foreign aid budget was allocated to Paraguay, a large decrease from 2017’s allocation of $6 million.

In previous years, the money was budgeted for categories including Economic Development and Democracy and Human Rights and Governance; this year’s budget specifically targets Peace and Security.

The U.S. previously aided Paraguay in reducing corruption and creating jobs, and have stressed the significance of supporting groups such as women, indigenous peoples and youth. The aid is intended to strengthen Paraguay’s democracy and increase economic opportunities.

U.S. Benefits of Economic Progress

The U.S. invests aid into other countries to build their economic growth through aspects such as healthcare, education and infrastructure. Providing the opportunity for stability in impoverished countries strengthens the nation’s stability and contributes to ally and trade relations with the U.S.

Investing in other countries means investing in the U.S. Businesses that export goods to other countries account for one in every five American jobs. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Paraguay through providing economic benefits in exports and jobs; in fact, in 2015, U.S. exports of goods to Paraguay supported an estimated 7,000 jobs.

The U.S. has several investors in Paraguay as well, including computer, telecommunications and banking firms. About 75 U.S. businesses have employees working in Paraguay.

Trade

With $2.1 billion in goods traded in 2016, Paraguay is the U.S.’s 73rd largest goods trading parter. Also in 2016, the U.S. goods trade surplus with Paraguay experienced a 34.8 percent increase from the prior year of 2015.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Paraguay through trade imports and exports. Exports to Paraguay in 2016 were $2 billion, which is a 30.7 percent increase from 2015 and a 117.4 percent increase from 2006.

Exports include a wide range of items such as cell phones, computer accessories and vehicle parts, but the largest export categories in 2016 were electrical machinery ($1 billion), machinery ($1 million) and chocolate and cocoa products ($965,000).

In 2016, U.S. goods imported from Paraguay was $57 million, a 170.1 percent increase since 2006. Top imports include sugar ($60 million), metal and stone ($23 million) and seeds and fruit ($15 million).

Foreign Relations

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Paraguay through strengthening foreign relations. The U.S. and Paraguay both are members of international organizations such as the United Nations, Organization of American States, World Bank and the World Trade Organization. The organization also partners with 100,000 Strong in the Americas, an organization that aims to increase the amount of U.S. students that study across the Western Hemisphere to 100,000.

The U.S. aims to improve countries around the world through foreign aid. Countries such as Paraguay have shown that the money provided to them has strengthened their socioeconomic and economic conditions, which in turn benefits the U.S. through economy, trade and relations.

– Anne-Marie Maher

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Sri LankaThe small South Asian country of Sri Lanka has been supported by the United States since the 1950s through U.S.-led programs that have invested in the island nation. Programs over the years have focused on a variety of causes, including health, education, business development, trade and good governance, just to name a few.

Since the tsunami of 2004, more assistance has come to this country of 21 million residents to help it continue to grow its economy as the U.S. pursues its goal of widening and accelerating economic growth as well as reconciling the ethnic and religious tensions within Sri Lanka.

However, the foreign aid cut proposed by President Trump will directly affect the amount of aid the U.S. can donate to this country, which is still trying to recover from a series of natural disasters and civil conflicts. In light of these recent developments, it is important to examine how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Sri Lanka.

The Realities of Foreign Aid

Trump’s proposal intends to cut foreign aid by an estimated 28 percent from last year, a significant amount that can no longer be used to continue to aid the world’s poor. A common assumption is that the U.S. spends a large portion of its federal budget on foreign aid, but this is a misconception.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, on average, Americans believe that roughly a quarter of the U.S. federal budget is spent on foreign aid, when, in reality, the U.S. government has only allocated roughly 1 percent of its annual budget to be spent on foreign aid.

In the case of a nation like Sri Lanka, foreign aid from the U.S. has not only helped citizens rebuild their lives after natural disasters and civil conflicts, but in turn, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Sri Lanka by receiving returns on its business relations with the country, due to the support the U.S. has given the Sri Lankan economy.

Bilateral Business Relations

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Sri Lanka through its continued participation in bilateral trade with the country, by exporting products such as industrial machinery, medical instruments, aircraft parts, lentils, paper, food, garment fabrics and pharmaceuticals.

This bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Sri Lanka has helped the U.S. economy over the years. In 2017 alone, the U.S. sent $335.7 million in exports to the nation, while imports from Sri Lanka totaled $2.86 billion.

Sri Lanka currently desires to uplift its citizens out of poverty and develop the nation into an upper middle-income economy. The nation’s gross domestic product was an estimated $81.3 billion in 2016, and is expected to increase by 7 percent by the year 2020.

Growth Opportunities in Sri Lanka

Unlike many of its Asian counterparts, Sri Lanka is looking to arrange more foreign investment deals, which is an arena the U.S. can take advantage of with investments. U.S. investment in Sri Lanka will generate more annual revenue for both countries, especially in tourism, a thriving industry that serves as an example of how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Sri Lanka.

This potential revenue will help strengthen the U.S. economy while helping to provide local jobs for Sri Lankan citizens. Sri Lanka also has other advantageous policies to offer the U.S., such as a relatively open financial system, a moderately stable monetary policy, improved infrastructure and world-class local companies.

If the U.S. continues to aid the citizens of Sri Lanka in resolving the country’s economic challenges, it will also find itself generating more revenue for its own economy, Time will tell what effects the current circumstances will have on both nations.

– Lois Charm

Photo: Flickr

What is the Current State of Poverty in Haiti?

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the developing world. Despite this, the Trump Administration is abruptly ending the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians. The humanitarian program allowed about 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the U.S. since the 2010 earthquake which killed 150,000 people.

Haitians will be expected to leave the U.S. by July 2019 or face deportation. This is devastating news for Haitians who earn money in the U.S. to send to their families and for those receiving an education.

Poverty in Haiti

According to the World Bank, life expectancy for Haitians is only 57 years. Less than half of the population is literate and only about one child in five of secondary-school age actually attends secondary school.

Health conditions are poor and about one-fourth of the population has access to safe water. The population continues to grow at a high rate, estimated at almost 200,000 people per year, with the overwhelming majority living in extreme poverty.

Key factors of poverty in Haiti include political instability, inadequate growth in private investment, underinvestment in human capital, and poverty traps including environmental degradation, crime, systematic human rights violations, and outward migration.

Steps to be taken

  1. Strengthen essential public sector institutions, improve coordination and consultation within government, and re-establish and consolidate political stability.
  2. Strengthen macroeconomic stability and reduce distortions in order to encourage private sector investment and increase productivity.
  3. Improve the quality of government spending, invest in the provision of basic human needs, and raise the level of human capital.
  4. Ration the assistance provided by external donors.

There is clearly a lot of work to be done, but instead of abandoning Haitians when they need help the most, the U.S. needs to directly help with overturning their situation of dire poverty.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bhutan
Bhutan is a small country sandwiched between India and China and the only country in the world that is carbon negative. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bhutan in more ways than one can imagine. Although the U.S. and Bhutan never established formal diplomatic relations, the two countries maintain warm, informal relations via the U.S. embassy situated in New Delhi, India and Bhutan’s mission to the U.N., New York.

Both countries are members of many global financial institutions such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Bhutan and the U.S.

The U.S. is one of the major indirect foreign sponsors of development of the fledgling economy of Bhutan. Yet, viewing it as an investment and not aid is more accurate as the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bhutan.

The World Bank granted a $9 million interest-free loan to help Bhutan develop a calcium carbide plant near Phuntsholing. As of 1990, total Asian Development Bank loans to Bhutan amounted to $30 million.

Bank Loans

In 1987 and 1988 alone, the Asian Development Bank approved loans amounting to around $6.9 million to cover the costs of industrial estates modernization and to provide foreign currency for the Bhutan Development Finance Corporation, which in turn provided credit for agricultural projects and private-sector businesses.

Asian Development Bank loans to Bhutan for 1990-93 were projected at $35 million, plus a grant of more than $4.85 million; the aid was for technical assistance.

How the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Bhutan

Naturally, these plans have emboldened Bhutan; however, it is essential to note how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bhutan. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Bhutan by opening up numerous opportunities of an untapped market. Although, these may not be visible at first. The following points may bring about a new perspective:

  1. In 2015, foreign exports from the United States to Bhutan totaled $213,126 — a significant economic benefit to the U.S. from its foreign aid to Bhutan.
  2. Bhutan is the only country in the world whose major export is a clean energy – hydropower. The U.S., meanwhile, is striving to become a major exporter of renewable energy technology.
  3. To this day, there are still no chain establishments such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, 7-11, Baskin Robbins, Subway, etc. Bhutan remains almost untouched by the outside world.
  4. There only two airlines that fly to Bhutan, which are Druk Air and Royal Bhutan.
  5. There is only one escalator in the whole country located in a shopping mall in Thimpu.

As Governor Tom Ridge rightly states, “By building new markets overseas, for American products, the International Affairs budget creates jobs and boosts the economy here at home.” The opportunities in developing Bhutan could be endless!

– Himja Sethi

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to MacedoniaSince it gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Macedonia has worked to become a stable democratic nation with a strong trade economy. Macedonia often struggles with being recognized or treated as an independent nation, a recent example being Greece’s demands for its constitutional name to be changed. Surrounded by more powerful countries, Macedonia requires steadfast support from its allies, which often comes in the form of foreign aid to help the country grow as a nation both politically and economically. The U.S. is one of these allies and has been supporting the country since it gained independence. Although America is keen on supporting countries moving towards democratic systems of government in general, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Macedonia as well.

One of the main goals of U.S. aid is to support Macedonia’s transition towards a market-oriented economy as well as its integration into the global trade economy, especially in the Euro-Atlantic. Trade between the U.S. and Macedonia in 2016 was around $276 million and is increasing every year. Electrical machinery and equipment have been the most popular U.S. exports to Macedonia, while imports from Macedonia to the U.S. focus on tobacco, apparel and metals such as iron and steel. The U.S. benefits not only from direct trade to Macedonia, but also through investment in its developing trade economy with other countries.

U.S. aid only helps to further bolster Macedonia’s improving trade economy through funding economic reforms and development, which not only improves direct trade to the U.S. but also increases the success of investments in the economy itself.

Trade is not the only improving economy in Macedonia. Recently, tourism has started to develop. Although in its infancy, contributing to 6.7 percent of the country’s GDP and employing only 1.6 percent of the country’s workers as of 2016, these numbers are expected to rise slowly but steadily. Tourism is also a very open market for foreign aid investment, with only about 2.4 percent of investment being in tourism. Considering that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Macedonia going to other sectors, this could be yet another way to make aid more valuable to both countries by helping to better tourism in Macedonia, and in turn, providing profits for U.S. companies.

Lastly, keeping Macedonia as an ally gives the U.S. a valuable strategic partner for foreign policies and interests. Macedonia has often lent its airspace and provided troops to aid the U.S. as well as other countries in the U.N., such as for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In general, the location of Macedonia is strategic to many of the conflicts the U.S. is involved in as well as for the stability of the region.

With a stabilizing government growing more democratic through reforms as well as a growing economy, there are many ways in which the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Macedonia financially, and with continued support, these benefits will increase for both countries. If the U.S. continues to be a dependable and helpful ally to Macedonia, it will return the favor as it has throughout its relationship by helping the U.S. and U.N. create stability in the region.

– Keegan Struble

Photo: Flickr

How the US Benefits From Foreign Aid to Somalia
The East African country of Somalia is one which faces many hardships. Violence, poverty and human rights violations are some of the highest-ranking issues, but the major focus of late has been the severe, ongoing drought that has impacted the nation since 2015.

The lack of water has inflicted suffering upon the entire region; however, conditions are improving since this time last year, largely due to U.S. humanitarian assistance in the region. In addition to supporting the nation, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Somalia.

A National Disaster

In February of 2017, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared a national disaster due to the onset of an extreme drought in the country.

In a meeting with the National Drought Committee, Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire remarked, “my estimation is that half the country has felt the impact of this drought.” Millions of people were in desperate need of food, and Somalia was on the verge of famine.

Famine is a constant fear among the Somali people, as such an incident occurs often and has devastating consequences on the community. The last famine in Somalia occurred from 2010 to 2012 and was brought on by the East Africa Drought — a natural occurrence that resulted in nearly 260,000 deaths by starvation in the region.

This was considered the worst famine in a quarter century, but many more have taken place before, including one in 1992 which left approximately 300,000 dead.

U.S. Humanitarian Aid

To prevent the situation from becoming this severe again, the U.S. stepped up its humanitarian efforts in the country. USAID provided $187.77 million of foreign aid to Somalia in the 2017 fiscal year that included emergency assistance to approximately 2.7 million people per month from July to December.

These operations consisted of large donations of food, provision of food vouchers, access to safe drinking water, vocational training, medical assistance and employment opportunities in local marketplaces.

According to the most recent report on conditions in Somalia from USAID, this help significantly reduced the risk of famine. Between July of 2017 and February 2018, there has been a 17 percent decline in the acutely malnourished population — a major accomplishment considering the relatively short amount of time over which intervention has taken place.

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Somalia

There are many ways from which the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Somalia. According to a report by the World Food Program, food insecurity is a “threat and impact multiplier for violent conflict.” When people are starving and looking for any way out, they may engage in violent activities if a terrorist organization promises food or money in exchange.

Somalia is one of the most unstable countries in the world, especially with the terrorist group al-Shabaab on the rise. It is important for the U.S. to take any measure possible to prevent the spread of violent conflict, and reducing food insecurity is a small way to aid in that effort.

By contributing to solving Somalia’s famine crisis, the U.S. actively takes steps to ensure its own national security.

Another way the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Somalia is that by extending a helping hand to a country in need, the U.S. simultaneously establishes a friendship between itself and the Somali government. This collaboration may advance our foreign policy agenda in the future.

According to political science expert Clair Apodaca, foreign aid “allows the donor state access and influence in the domestic and foreign affairs of other states.”

Mutual Benefits in Times of Crisis

By offering humanitarian assistance in times of crisis, the U.S. gains leverage over the way Somalia governs its country. With this influence, the nation may be able to achieve its objectives to strengthen democratic institutions and improve stability in the region.

Lastly, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Somalia because providing helpful programs and funding to people who are suffering improves our image as a leader in the global community.

Such actions demonstrate that the U.S. is an ethical and reliable partner, which can improve our favorability in the eyes of foreign leaders and ultimately help our diplomatic and trade relations.

Still Work To Do

Though U.S. foreign aid has helped Somalia avoid falling into a full-fledged famine, the country is by no means out of harm’s way. Rainfall is expected to be below average from April to June again this year, and around 5.4 million people are still experiencing either “stressed” or “crisis” level food insecurity.

It is important that the U.S. continue its humanitarian assistance programs in Somalia throughout 2018, and for as long as it takes to restore the country to a relatively stable state because by doing so, the nation is not only promoting the interests of Somalia, but of the U.S. as well.

– Maddi Roy

Photo: Flickr

Medical humanitarian aidAccording to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an epidemic is a significant and sudden increase in the number of cases of a particular disease in a specific area or within a certain population. Epidemics can present themselves all over the world. However, epidemics are most common in impoverished, war-torn and developing countries.

Medical humanitarian aid can help end epidemics in many impoverished countries. Most countries that receive foreign humanitarian aid are not properly equipped to deal with disease outbreaks, nor do they have the trained medical professionals needed. This is how a disease outbreak quickly turns into an epidemic.

Many international medical relief groups focus their efforts on controlling epidemics by providing adequate medical training, professionals and equipment. Listed below are some of the international medical relief groups that are working toward ending epidemics.

Medical Teams International

Medical Teams International is a Christian-based international relief group that has been using medical humanitarian aid to help end epidemics. The group works by delivering medical supplies and trained volunteers to areas in need. The mission of the group is to provide medical, dental, humanitarian and holistic relief to diverse areas without discrimination.

For over 25 years, Medical Teams International has been providing relief for refugees in impoverished and war-torn countries. For example, in 2017 the United Nations declared a famine in South Sudan as a result of the civil war that has been ongoing since 2013. Shortly after the declaration, Medical Teams International dispatched massive relief efforts to combat the Cholera and Malaria epidemics.

Currently, Medical Teams International has provided medical humanitarian aid to over 520 thousand Sudanese refugees, severely curving the disease epidemics in that area.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is one of the most well known international medical-based relief groups in the world. For over 45 years, the group has dispersed trained medical professionals and medical humanitarian aid across the globe. Medecins Sans Frontieres is also on the cusp of many medical initiatives in impoverished countries.

Medecins Sans Frontieres is known for tackling large disease outbreaks and epidemics in poor and dangerous areas. In 2017, Medecins Sans Frontieres dispatched relief efforts to Uganda after the country was declared in a state of humanitarian emergency. The group focused its efforts on the recent Cholera outbreak spreading through Uganda, setting up multiple Cholera clinics to help treat and prevent the spread of Cholera to other refugees in Uganda.

Direct Relief

Direct Relief is another nonprofit humanitarian aid organization that primarily focuses on medical relief to devastated areas. The goal of the organization is to provide proper and comprehensive medical aid for impoverished areas and emergencies. In 2017, Forbes ranked Direct Relief among the top United States charities.

Over the past five years, Direct Relief has provided medical humanitarian aid to over 80 countries, many in Africa and South Asia. They have supplied over two thousand healthcare facilities and have sent billions of U.S. dollars worth of medical equipment and supplies.

These international organizations and many more have worked hard to make medical humanitarian aid more accessible to impoverished countries. Many epidemics that have started due to unsafe food, unsafe water and a generally poor environment have been contained and even eliminated by medical humanitarian aid. These organizations believe that with the right aid and volunteers, diseases around the world can be eradicated.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to TurkeyTurkey is a country with great geographical significance, connecting Eastern Europe and West Asia, and bordering several Middle Eastern countries that now stand at the center of conflict in the region, including Syria, Iran and Iraq. Therefore, it is important for Americans to understand how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Turkey and to weigh the relative benefits they derive from providing foreign aid to the nation.

Turkey is a nation with a long history of political disorder. Recent years have been no different, with the country seeing the expansion of federal power and the decline of democracy stemming from a controversial governmental reform in 2017, along with suffering the fallout of a brutal civil war that broke out in neighboring Syria. These events have caused many Americans to question why their nation is planning to spend $3.8 million in foreign aid for Turkey in 2018. While many believe that such aid is primarily for humanitarian aims, in fact, this financial assistance to Turkey is actually a key part of the military strategy that affects United States policy in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

According to the U.S. State Department, nearly all of the foreign aid designated for Turkey is for military use. These resources have been helpful in allowing Turkey to bolster American aims in the Middle East, as the nation shares a border with both Iraq and Iran, countries that are of great significance to the United States. Iraq, a major economic interest due to its high supply of oil, is an unstable region in which the United States remains militarily involved following the Iraq War. Iran, a country with longstanding tensions with the United States, recently entered into a controversial nuclear deal with America in an attempt to manage Iranian development of nuclear technology. Providing aid to Turkey helps the United States ensure it has some influence over Turkish foreign policy, which Americans, of course, hope aligns with the best interest of the United States.

Another one of the direct U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Turkey is related to the NATO alliance. Turkey is a key member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the vital military alliance between the United States and most European countries that has been key to checking Russian aggression in Europe for decades. Turkey has a vested interest in working with the organization, as its location next to Syria, a perilous region with heavy Russian involvement, puts it at odds with President Putin’s regime, making it important that the United States remains directly involved in Turkish affairs.

The most significant recent use of American foreign aid has been helping Turkey deal with the Syrian refugee crisis. As a result of the devastating Syrian Civil War, Turkey has been among the countries dealing directly with the humanitarian crisis caused by a massive influx of refugees. American foreign aid has been vital in helping to manage this crisis, allowing Turkey to organize a response to the growing number of refugees and preventing further destabilization in the country that might open a door to exploitation by extremist terrorist groups or Russian influence. If extremists of any type were to gain control over the Turkish government and its resources, the implications for United States national security and foreign policy could be disastrous.

Overall, because Turkey sits in a key position between the Middle East, Europe and Asia, and because it is linked militarily to the NATO alliance, it will continue to be a strategically important focus of American foreign aid. Despite Turkey’s flaws, such as its fragile electoral system and troubling history of ignoring the freedom of its domestic press, it remains a highly useful ally of the United States and a means by which the longstanding political instabilities of the region can be managed. The current political climate in the area, along with the longstanding NATO alliance, means there are still many U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Turkey.

– Shane Summers

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

How the US Benefits from Foreign Aid to UkraineUkraine has faced ferocious political turmoil and civilian unrest in recent years, marked by war and corruption. Currently, it is crucial for Ukraine to continue its path to democracy. Congress must recognize how the U.S. benefits from humanitarian aid to Ukraine now more than ever. In the wake of recent cuts to foreign assistance in the 2018 and 2019 budget proposal, Ukraine’s stability depends on its American partnership.

For more than two-thirds of the twentieth century, Ukraine endured the oppressiveness of the Soviet Union. In 1991, Ukraine gained its independence, but it was plagued by deep-seated political corruption. This stronghold-tainted governance in Ukraine resulted in the imprisonment of its first female prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011 and the exiling of its fourth president Viktor Yanukovich in 2014.

Not only has Ukraine suffered instability and corruption in its political arena, but dirty politics have bled through its microeconomics as well. For example, patients may have access to medical treatment, but they oftentimes must bribe doctors in order to get the treatment they really need. This deep-rooted corruption that permeates all levels of society and government in Ukraine has historically threatened foreign aid and investment.

Unfortunately, foreign interest is tightening its grip on the power of the purse. In a recent breakthrough, Ukraine’s largest foreign backers, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (E.U.), announced they will not lend to Ukraine without serious progress on key reforms, including the fight against corruption. The IMF is comprised of 189 countries working to promote sustainable economic growth, trade and global poverty reduction.

The upside is that corruption levels have actually begun to decrease. In recent years, Ukraine has taken long-term steps to fight against corruption, including implementing anti-corruption agencies in the judiciary, public procurement and state-owned enterprises. These are some incentives that Congress can rely on when weighing in on how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Ukraine.

The U.S. has been the world’s only superpower since the fall of the Soviet Union. America as a superpower holds great influence, characterized by its far-reaching ability to exert influence on a global scale. So what are the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Ukraine?

The U.S. has much to gain from coordinating with donors to Ukraine. Undeniably, foreign aid has been historically used in policymaking as a means to gain international leverage. Assisting Ukraine with humanitarian and foreign aid helps promote U.S. policy objectives. Ukraine is situated between Russia and the NATO-affiliated European countries, a geostrategic location for both the U.S. and the E.U.

Foreign aid to Ukraine will also support nuclear security, a strong interest to global safety, despite much of Ukraine’s energy resources now coming from Europe. Establishing Ukraine’s own energy supplies will prevent Russia from making weapons of Ukraine’s energy resources in the future.

Additionally, remedying Ukraine’s medical industry under the Global Health Initiative (GHI) will significantly improve disease containment. GHI aims to improve public health and strengthen U.S. national security through detecting, preventing and controlling global disease. Agencies such as PEPFAR provide direct service and assistance in Ukraine to maximize the medical quality and coverage of the national HIV/AIDS response.

Lastly, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Ukraine by assisting Ukrainians who suffer from the War in Donbass. In March of 2014, Russia responded to Ukraine’s distressed political state by invading and annexing Crimea, an Eastern Ukrainian territory, which has caused war and hurt Ukraine’s economic growth. This has created political, economic and social conflict, and is a direct result of the War in Donbas, home to Ukraine’s major mining industry.

The Trump administration recently approved a sale of lethal weapons to Ukraine. Political analysts believe that the public will see the sales as a principled signal that the United States will support its allies. This type of political leverage is a clear way the U.S. can benefit from its support to Ukraine. The move was made in light of ongoing requests by Ukrainian advocates as a result of the War in Donbass and supported by the fact that Ukraine was not the aggressor.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid in Ukraine (OCHA) has calculated that nearly 4.4 million Ukrainians are affected by the conflict in Donbas and 3.4 million are in need of humanitarian aid and protection. Now, more than ever, Ukraine needs humanitarian aid.

Because funding for humanitarian aid has been cut in 2018 and is projected to be cut again in 2019, the World Food Bank can only assist those affected by the War in Donbass. Yet, the rest of Ukraine suffers, as 23 percent of households will go without adequate food. Despite this, people in Eastern Ukraine are suffering the most from displacement, lack of medical care and food and subjectivity to war.

As the world’s only superpower since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which left Ukraine in disarray, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Ukraine because it will help build confidence in the people suffering in Ukraine and promote the democracy Ukraine has struggled to achieve. When democracy is encouraged in the world, it is always an interest of the U.S.

– Alex Galante 

Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid Is Getting BetterGovernment-funded aid and development programs do not benefit from the free market pressures generating growth and improved efficiency in the private sector. However, since the emergence of the international aid system following World War II, many countries’ philanthropic expenditures have become more transparent, sustainable and effective. This upward trend continues to this day; foreign aid is getting better, thanks to several improvements in their methods and philosophies.

Data Science

The first step in solving a problem is identifying it. This cliche is rarely more relevant than in the world of foreign aid, where economists and data scientists have spent years trying to measure, model and tailor solutions to the world’s most intractable problems. Good data are essential for development initiatives to establish baselines, set goals and targets, track progress and evaluate results.

Since the Marrakech Action Plan for Statistics was agreed to in 2004, more than 86 percent of International Development Association countries have completed or begun developing national strategies for gathering statistics. To carry this progress forward, organizations like the World Bank and the Committee on Data of the International Council for Science offer training on data practices to members of developing countries.

The science continues to improve. In 2014, Jesse Berns, a veteran of war and disaster zones, developed the Dharma Platform, an innovative new software designed for the rapid collection, sharing, and analysis of data in chaotic situations. Already adopted by Doctors Without Borders in 22 countries, Dharma is one example of how foreign aid is getting better.

Technology

The Dharma platform, made possible by the ubiquity of mobile phones, dovetails with another accelerator of foreign aid efficacy, technology. Recognizing the need to harness new technologies in order to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in 2014, USAID established the U.S. Global Development Lab (USGDL) “to produce breakthrough development innovations by sourcing, testing and scaling proven solutions to reach hundreds of millions of people.” USGDL is comprised of scientists and experts from a range of private-sector partners and works with labs in universities across the country. Leadership has set ambitious goals, hoping to provide digitized agricultural data by mobile phone to 42 million small farmers in Africa within five years and standalone energy solutions to 40 million people.

While most of the impact of technological innovation occurs outside of the context of development assistance, the USGDL illustrates an essential way that foreign aid is getting better, by harnessing technology as an indispensable development tool. Since 2012, the program has expanded internet access to approximately 20 million new mobile and internet users around the globe, and directly supported USAID health and education programs by connecting 56 schools and 39 hospitals to the web.

Foreign Aid Is Getting Better by Shifting Its Approach

While improving the material lives of recipients is an essential goal of foreign aid, material donations have a limited to negative impact when they are misaligned with a country’s development needs. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development‘s Working Party on Aid Effectiveness recognized at the beginning of the 21st century that “promoting widespread and sustainable development was not only about amounts of aid given, but also about how aid was given.” Learning from the lessons of decades of misalignment and waste, foreign aid organizations are shifting away from dollars-and-cents inputs to an emphasis on self-sufficiency and building donor-recipient coordination.

Foreign aid is a young enterprise. Most of the organizations that come to mind with respect to foreign aid did not exist until the second half of the 20th century. While much progress has been made in improving foreign aid initiatives, from improving accountability to investing in sustainable, bottom-up solutions, foreign aid is getting better. Providing effective assistance to those in need is undeniably difficult, but it is getting easier. 

– Whiting Tennis

Photo: Flickr