U.S. Foreign Aid Facts

With all the attention in the United States focused on the economy and the government’s fiscal decisions, people are finally noticing the vast amount of pork barrel spending that occurs every year. Wasted government dollars are spent on projects of no significance while Congress still refuses to extend unemployment insurance benefits.  This intense scrutiny of U.S. spending usually finds its way over to the International Affairs Budget.

According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Americans think 28% of the budget goes to foreign aid. Many are shocked to find that the real number is close to 1%! The same poll also found out that when people learn the truth, it changes their opinions.  When asked if the U.S. spends too much on foreign aid, 61% said “too much” while 13% said “too little.”  When asked the same question after learning the true proportion, just 30% said “too much” while 28% said “too little.”

Education must continue to dispel any myths about U.S. foreign aid and fight ignorance with facts.  Here are some facts about U.S. foreign aid that could help you in your crusade!

  • Nearly 3 billion people worldwide have received assistance from United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • U.S. foreign aid dictates future agriculture export totals; 43 of the top 50 consumers of American agriculture products are past recipients
  • Over 3 million lives are saved every year due to USAID health programs
  • Largely due to USAID programs, the world has observed a 10 percent reduction in infant mortality in just eight years
  • USAID family planning programs has seen the children per family average decrease from 6.1 to 4.2 in just 50 years in participating nations.
  • The number of democratic nations in the world grew from 58 to 115 between 1980 and 1995.  The U.S. provided assistance to 36 newly formed nations during this period.

U.S. foreign aid is a wonderful tool of diplomacy that promotes democracy and security throughout the world.  Investments are made in economic development, education and social services, health, humanitarian assistance, environment, governance, and security.  For further ammunition and a complete breakdown of U.S. foreign aid investments and their results, visit USAID’s results page.

– Sunny Bhatt

Sources: Washington Post, USAID, USAID
Photo: Ozy