U.S. citizens share a common misconception in attitudes towards foreign aid. Contrary to popular belief, the United States government spends less than 1 percent of the federal budget on foreign assistance. Of the countries receiving this less than 1 percent, Zimbabwe relies on the United States the most heavily as its number one foreign aid provider.
With improvements in HIV/AIDS prevention and economic growth, the benefits Zimbabwe reaps from foreign aid are more apparent than what the United States gets out of the deal. Oftentimes the successes in aid-receiving countries get the focus, but the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe in different, less measurable ways.
Bilateral Economic Relations
For the fiscal year of 2018, the United States is targeted to provide almost $150 million in funds to Zimbabwe. Why provide so much money to a country navigating a rather turbulent period of governance and recovering from years of economic decline?
By providing funds to Zimbabwe, the United States is working to promote Zimbabwe’s economic recovery. This provides opportunities for trade and investments that will benefit the economies of both Zimbabwe and the United States. As Zimbabwe’s economy continues to grow and prosper with the funds the United States provides, business opportunities in Zimbabwe will open up and allow U.S. citizens to take advantage of those opportunities.
In addition to benefiting economically, by providing funds, the United States promotes positive international relations and thus benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe. The United States and Zimbabwe are members of many of the same international organizations. Both countries are members of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
As the world enters an age of increased international interaction and communication, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe and many other countries by cultivating relationships with other international players.
From a national security standpoint, politically and economically stable countries are less likely to go to war or engage in any type of international conflict. Military leaders have seen firsthand how addressing poverty and disease in countries benefits the United States.
Zimbabwe is currently in an uncertain political period. In November 2017, Robert Mugabe resigned as Zimbabwe’s president after 37 years in office. After a week of military occupation, Emmerson Mnangagwa came to power and is serving as president until elections in August 2018.
The United States hopes to allocate its 2018 funds to programs that advocate government transparency, enhance political participation and create an active civil society. These sorts of programs have the potential to create a sense of political stability that contributes to the security of both citizens from Zimbabwe and the United States.
One of the critiques of foreign aid is that the U.S. sends money that is chewed up by corrupt governments. This is not the case. In Zimbabwe, the United States works directly with a variety of NGOs and community leaders.
The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Zimbabwe in many different ways encompassed by a variety of sectors. The economy, international relations, and national security are all improved by providing foreign assistance.
– Sonja Flancher