CHICAGO — The most common form of foreign aid is Official Development Assistance, or ODA, and DAC member countries provide the most aid.
The OECD Development Assistance Committee, or DAC, includes 34 members: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
While U.S. aid is greatest, its proportion is greatly skewed in comparison to other DAC countries. With its multi-trillion dollar budget, the U.S. gave approximately 0.2 percent of its net ODA as a percent of gross national income, or GNI. This is far below the ODA agreed target of 0.7 percent of GNI. Sweden, Norway and Luxembourg, on the other hand, gave about one percent of GNI in 2011.
The U.S. allocates one percent of its total federal budget to foreign aid. This is nearly $30 billion that goes toward helping the world’s poor.
Military defense takes $663 billion of the total budget.
With what little the U.S. spends on development assistance, it still remains of the most generous countries in that sector.
In terms of health, USAID saves more than three million lives per year through immunization programs, saves tens of millions of lives through oral rehydration therapy and significantly reduces the average family size in the developing world from 6.1 in the mid-1960s to 4.2 today. USAID is the leading governmental U.S. agency for eliminating global poverty.
Life expectancy has increased by about 33 percent, smallpox has been cured and in 20 years, the world’s undernourished population has been cut in half.
The U.N. Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade gave 1.3 billion people safe and reliable drinking water, and 750 million people were given sanitation for the first time.
According to USAID, more than 50 million couples worldwide now use family planning thanks to USAID’s population program. In the past half a century, infant and child deaths also plummeted by 50 percent.
USAID began implementing its HIV/AIDS programs in 1987. Since then, they have reached 32 countries, saving 850,000 lives and training 40,000 people to continue local education programs in their own communities.
Infant mortality rates also fell by 10 percent worldwide in the past eight years thanks to USAID child survival programs.
USAID targets food security by teaching families how to cultivate crops sustainably. Improving land use reduced soil erosion by 70,000 tons in Honduras. Early USAID work in southern Africa also prevented a massive famine in the 1990s, resulting in millions of lives saved.
Investing in the energy sectors of developing countries has built a $50 billion annual market for private power, a source of jobs, reduced reliance on imports and greater economic security.
USAID supports millions of local entrepreneurs aspiring to create their own livelihoods. For example, Latin America’s first commercial bank, Banco Solidario, received starting loans from USAID. Now, the bank supports 44,000 small Bolivian businesses and no longer relies on USAID to grow.
Literacy rates around the world have also risen by 33 percent in the last 25 years. At the same time, enrollments into primary school have tripled.
USAID initiatives cover everything from working in crises and conflict to attending gender equality advances, climate change, education, food security, human rights and democratic governance, to eradicating global poverty and more. The leading U.S. agency works to develop, monitor and improve aid effectiveness throughout its 1,921 projects.
Going forward, the Fiscal Year 2016 Request asks for $22.3 billion for funding operations, over $10.7 billion of which will directly pay for Development Assistance, Global Health Programs, International Disaster Assistance, Food for Peace Title II, Transition Initiatives, Complex Crises Fund and USAID Administrative Expenses.
More specifically, USAID will section these funds to the following accounts: $2.8 billion for USAID Global Health Programs; $978 million for the Feed the Future initiative; $348.5 million for investments through the Global Climate Change initiative; $2.4 million for programs promoting transparency and democratic values in Central America, Asia and Africa’s political systems; $500 million to advancing El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras’ economies; $133.9 million to African economic growth; $190.5 million for sponsoring the Global Development Lab and the Policy, Planning, and Learning, or PPL, Bureau; $687.5 million to expand democratic values in the Asia-Pacific region; $3.1 billion for emergency food supplies; and $1.4 billion in USAID Operating Expenses. The Budget Request also asks to rewrite the Food Aid Reform to allocate up to 25 percent of Food for Peace P.L. 480 Title II resources for cash-based food aid for emergencies. This change permits USAID to help nearly two million more people annually, without altering the level of resources.
In the coming year, USAID seeks to use its resources to protect more people in critical development. With only one percent of the federal budget, U.S. foreign assistance works to wipe out extreme poverty in all parts of the world.
– Lin Sabones