As of 2016, the United States has provided over $38,000 worth of foreign aid to St. Lucia through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This small Caribbean island, with a population of 170,015, has a Gross National Income of $11,370 and continues to be at risk for high crime, labor instability and a high level of substance abuse.
Through its many programs and funding ventures via USAID, the U.S. continues to better St. Lucia. However, this foreign aid does not only help the island; the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to St. Lucia as well.
Agriculture and Tourism
Most USAID funding in St. Lucia is allocated to agriculture. By investing in the country’s department of agriculture, the U.S. is aiding as well as fortifying a potential trade relationship. Within the first four months of 2018, almost 10 percent of U.S. imports from St. Lucia were food related — a number that will most likely rise as the country’s agriculture department strengthens.
Another way that the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to St. Lucia is through tourism. St. Lucia’s tourism industry profits greatly from the U.S. as a majority of tourists to the island are American, who tend to buy St. Lucian products. This exchange of goods thus benefits both economies.
The more the U.S. invests in foreign aid to St. Lucia, the more return on investment it will receive. By giving USAID in order to strengthen St. Lucia’s economy, the U.S. is strengthening a trading partner. However, in order to build a secure relationship between the countries, crime and violence must also decrease.
Violence Prevention and Education
One USAID program focuses on targeting violence in a preventative way. In a partnership with St. Lucia’s Department of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, the U.S. has commenced a coding and robotics program into St. Lucia’s secondary education curriculum.
As of June 12, four students and 12 teachers have been trained in the robotics and coding curriculum; more math, physics, computer and traditional classes will be later introduced into St. Lucian secondary schools.
The new initiative creates a new and exciting way for St. Lucian students to become and remain involved in their education as they attend school. In this program, education is not just the knowledge that students gain from learning robotics and coding. The USAID and St. Lucia’s Department of Education also aim to instill a love of learning, teamwork and critical thinking skills into the students.
By introducing the robotics and coding program into secondary schools and impressing a love for learning, as well as teamwork and critical thinking skills, onto St. Lucian students, the two countries hope to decrease the overall violence in St. Lucia.
Sustainable Progress and Growth
People who think critically and are more prone to work together are far less likely to commit violent crimes than their counterparts. By teaching St. Lucian students to be not only better learners, but also better citizens is vitally necessary to the growth of St. Lucia.
With the help of this program, the country’s future adults will be more aptly prepared to participate within St. Lucia as well as the global economy. As the program continues to succeed, St. Lucia will benefit from its future leaders just as the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to St. Lucia.
– Savannah Hawley