Despite comprising less than 1 percent of the United States’ federal budget, foreign aid still plays a major part in shaping the United States’ diplomatic and military positions around the world. Many U.S. citizens also have major misconceptions about the amount dedicated to foreign aid and the impact it has on economic growth and national security. This makes it important to look at the top 10 recipients of U.S. foreign aid in 2018 and examine its positive impact on the United States and the world.
- Iraq – $347.9 million
One of the most notable recipients of U.S. foreign aid is Iraq. The conflict in Iraq has remained a major contributor to global instability for 15 years now, claiming the lives of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Thus, the United States plans to spend $347,860,000 in 2018 to help stabilize the region. Current plans involve economic assistance following the collapse of world oil prices (a major contributor to Iraq’s economy), the stabilization of territories recovered from the Islamic State, and support for a humanitarian response to the needs of displaced citizens. Foreign aid to Iraq is key to the United States’ success, as it strengthens national security and helps diminish the threat of terrorist organizations such as ISIL that thrive in unstable regions.
- Nigeria – $419.1 million
The primary goal of the United States’ foreign assistance in Nigeria is the reduction of extreme poverty in the region. Aid in Nigeria also seeks to support the creation of a stable democratic system that engages citizen input and is less vulnerable to attacks by radical terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, which has devastated the northern region of the country through bombings and assassinations over the past several years. Better aid in Nigeria would promote a higher quality of life for local citizens, economically benefit the United States and stop the spread of radical terrorism.
- Zambia – $428.9 million
In Zambia, the United States has pledged funding in order to lower extremely high rural poverty rates in the county, as well as create a mineral economy that offers more prosperity for its citizens. Aid will also go towards establishing sustainable agriculture and combating the spread of deadly diseases such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. Investing in Zambia is both humanitarian and helps develop new foreign markets for United States goods in the future.
- Uganda – $436.4 million
Helping the government of Uganda establish sustainable economic development in its communities is key to the stabilization of East Africa as a whole. Uganda has been an ally of the United States, helping with regional threats to national security, and further aid benefits both countries immensely. Aid planned for 2018 will also support the ideals of a multi-party democratic system and will help fight the spread of deadly diseases that threaten to devastate local communities.
- Tanzania – $535.3 million
Despite an increasingly flawed, but stable, multiparty governmental system, and a strong and growing economy, over a quarter of Tanzanians live below the poverty line. As one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid, Tanzania aims to address issues of poverty among the populace, and at the same time advance American interests by creating a strong economic ally in the region.
- Kenya – $639.4 million
Despite a series of democratic reforms that have taken place throughout the past decade, Kenya’s political system still suffers from pervasive government corruption and ethnic feuds. Many farmers and citizens live in drought-prone areas, which could spell disaster for some communities in future years and worsen tensions in the country. Planned aid to Kenya this year will increase the ability of the public to hold officials accountable and foster development of drought-prone areas in order to protect people from climate disasters in the future.
- Afghanistan – $782.8 million
Like Iraq, Afghanistan has been one of the least stable countries in the Middle East in the past decade. The presence of the Taliban and subsequent military invasion by the United States caused immense instability in the struggling country. Planned aid in 2018 aims to cement democratic conditions in the fragile new Afghani government and embolden security forces to fight Taliban insurgencies and the expansion of the Islamic State, while also creating self-reliant communities that are less susceptible to occupation and exploitation. Aid to Afghanistan is key to establishing a more stable Middle East and stopping the dangerous spread of radical terrorism.
- Jordan – $1 billion
Due to its location next to war-torn Syria, Jordan is at the center of the current refugee humanitarian crisis, which makes strengthening economic development in the country essential. As one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid, Jordan is receiving help to cope with the massive influx of Syrian refugees fleeing the devastating Syrian civil war, as well as increase democratic accountability and gender equality within the Jordanian government.
- Egypt – $1.39 billion
In providing aid to Egypt, one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid, the United States intends to improve food security and good governance in the country, while also strengthening its ability to fight extremist terrorism that threatens the country. Aid will also help to continue the healthy economic relationship between Egypt and the United States. Though most aid is dedicated to security and economic development, around $30 million is intended to promote health and education among Egyptian citizens.
- Israel – $3.1 billion
As one of the only functioning democracies in the Middle East, the United States has long supported Israel’s development efforts. The clear majority of Israeli foreign aid goes towards the development of defense programs against regional threats that jeopardize both American and Israeli interests. The United States also hopes to open a pathway of diplomatic negotiations with Palestinians to develop a peaceful resolution to regional conflicts.
These examples demonstrate the varied uses of U.S. foreign aid, and the different methods in which it is used to benefit the country. Whether invested in unstable states to boost global economic development and prevent terrorism, used to promote humanitarianism and improve the global view of the United States, or delegated to defense programs and assistance that increase U.S. soft power and influence, foreign aid has been used to benefit United States interests throughout the globe. This shows that foreign aid is not just an altruistic option, but one beneficial to the U.S. and its citizens.
– Shane Summers