Created by President John. F. Kennedy for International Development by executive order in 1961 to lead the US government’s international development and humanitarian efforts, ‘United States Agency for International Development’ is an independent agency that is responsible for providing economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. The USAID works with governments, civil society, the private sector, and other partners in order to deliver development assistance to people in need.
The ‘United States Agency for International Development’ (USAID) was established in November 3, 1961 by executive order of President John F. Kennedy, who recognized the need for a single agency responsible for administering aid to foreign countries in order to promote social and economic development. So, when President Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act into law and created the USAID by executive order, it developed tremendously to become one of the largest providers of foreign assistance to countries recovering from disasters or conflicts. This includes Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the Middle East and Europe, where the USAID has helped to improve living conditions, alleviate poverty and establish market-based economies.
“There is no escaping our obligations: our moral obligations as a wise leader and good neighbor in the interdependent community of free nations – our economic obligations as the wealthiest people in a world of largely poor people, as a nation no longer dependent upon the loans from abroad that once helped us develop our own economy – and our political obligations as the single largest counter to the adversaries of freedom.” – John F. Kennedy
In the Seventies, the USAID stressed a ‘basic human needs’ approach, which focused on food and nutrition, population planning, health, education and human resources development. In the Eighties, foreign assistance was sought to stabilise currencies and financial systems. It also promoted market-based principles to restructure developing countries’ policies and institutions. During this decade, the USAID re-affirmed its commitment to broad-based economic growth, emphasizing employment and income opportunities through a revitalisation of agriculture and expansion of domestic markets. development activities were also increasingly channeled through private voluntary organizations and aid shifted from individual projects to large programs.
In the Nineties, the USAID’s foremost priority became sustainable development or helping countries improve their own quality of life. During this decade, the USAID tailored development assistance programs according to a country’s economic condition, which meant that developing countries received an integrated package of assistance; transitional countries received help during a crisis; and countries with limited USAID presence received support through non-governmental organizations. The USAID played a lead role in planning and implementing programs following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and its programs has also helped establish functioning democracies with open, market-oriented economic systems and responsive social safety nets. During the 2000s, the USAID was called on to help war-engaged Afghanistan and Iraq to rebuild government, infrastructure, civil society and basic services such as health care and education. The Agency also began an aggressive campaign to reach out to new partner organizations, including the private sector and foundations, to extend the reach of foreign assistance.
Today, its workforce and culture continues to serve as a reflection of core American values… values that are rooted in a belief for doing the right thing. The USAID staff work in more than a hundred countries around the world with the same over-arching goals that President Kennedy had outlined fifty years ago – furthering America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets while also extending a helping hand to people struggling to make a better life, recovering from a disaster or striving to live in a free and democratic country. It is this caring that stands as a hallmark of the United States around the world.
“On behalf of the American people, we promote and demonstrate democratic values abroad, and advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world. In support of America’s foreign policy, the U.S. Agency for International Development leads the U.S. Government’s international development and disaster assistance through partnerships and investments that save lives, reduce poverty, strengthen democratic governance, and help people emerge from humanitarian crises and progress beyond assistance. Our objective is to support partners to become self-reliant and capable of leading their own development journeys. We make progress toward this by reducing the reach of conflict, preventing the spread of pandemic disease, and counteracting the drivers of violence, instability, transnational crime and other security threats. We promote American prosperity through investments that expand markets for U.S. exports; create a level playing field for U.S. businesses; and support more stable, resilient, and democratic societies.” Per the USAID official website.
The mission of USAID to ‘stand with people when disaster strikes or crisis emerges as the world leader in humanitarian assistance.’
The USAID provides a range of products and services in the realm of International development, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief. These include grants and contracts for specific projects and activities, technical assistance, capacity building, and support for research and analysis. Of paramount importance, the USAID provides direct assistance to individuals and communities affected by natural disasters, conflict, and disease outbreaks. It also provides loans and guarantees for development projects and debt relief for countries in need. Additionally, it partners with private sector companies to provide access to resources and investments that can help spur economic growth in developing countries. This includes providing capital and connections to people in the fashion industry which need help establishing a presence on the world fashion map, the most recent example being the USAID Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine collaborating with the just-concluded Paris Fashion Week to help seven Ukranian designers showcase their collections.
American journalist, diplomat and government official Samantha Jane Power, is currently serving as the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. She previously served as the 28th United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017.