Biggest recipients of U.S. foreign aid
Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 almost 60 years ago in order to create the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an independent U.S. agency responsible for providing foreign aid and developmental assistance worldwide. USAID, along with the U.S. State Department, has since provided billions of dollars in foreign military and humanitarian assistance. The United States is now the largest donor of food aid in the world; although while most Americans think their country allots around a quarter of its budget to humanitarian assistance, only about 1% of the annual federal budget actually goes to foreign aid.
The U.S. State Department and USAID in 2017 asked for $50.1 billion in funding to promote “national security strategy and foreign policy priorities.” President Trump has criticized the amount the U.S. spends on foreign assistance and threatened to cut aid to countries that don’t support U.S. policies. Still, his administration backed off plans to bypass Congress to do so.
Using data from ForeignAssistance.gov and USAID, Stacker created a list of the 50 countries that received the most U.S. foreign aid in 2017. The USAID budget is proposed in the spring of the previous year; for example, the 2019 USAID budget was proposed in March 2018.
Here, click through to see the top 50 recipients of U.S. foreign aid in 2017.
2017 obligations: $122.5 million (28% increase from 2016)
Top sectors: government and civil society ($50 million), other social infrastructure and services ($17 million), agriculture ($15 million)
The United States established a diplomatic relationship with Peru in 1827 that was strengthened in 2009 with the United States–Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). Since then, the goal of USAID-led support has been to give farmers an alternative livelihood in areas with coca (the plant base of cocaine), to provide sustainable natural resource management, and to reduce corruption. In 2017, USAID helped Peru’s National Forestry Wildlife System launch a new system that would help track timber and stop illegal shipments.
#49. Micronesia (Federated States)
2017 obligations: $125.1 million (11% decrease from 2016)
Top sectors: general budget support ($49 million); education, level unspecified ($29 million); health, general ($24 million)
The United States has had a diplomatic and cooperative relationship with the islands of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) since World War II, when FSM became part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The United States is set to provide more than $110 million in assistance annually until the fiscal year 2023. Grants focus on education, health, infrastructure, and providing clean water. Money is also directed to a jointly managed trust fund.
2017 obligations: $148.4 million (15% decrease from 2016)
Top sectors: government and civil society ($37 million), emergency response ($36 million), agriculture ($14 million)
Since 2013, the United States has provided more than $68 million to strengthen the democratic process in Myanmar (also known as Burma), but the country’s attempt to transition to a democracy resulted in a massive human rights and humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine State starting in August 2017. More than 650,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh. In May 2018, the United States allocated an additional $44 million—bringing the total to $299 million for the fiscal year 2017—to assist Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and others affected by the violence and conflict.
2017 obligations: $149.7 million (5% decrease from 2016)
Top sectors: conflict, peace, and security ($37 million); HIV/AIDS ($31 million); general environmental protection ($28 million)
The United States established diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1950. Shortly afterward, the country fell into years of civil war. The United States did not recognize North Vietnam and fought with South Vietnam against the government during the Vietnam War, a conflict that didn’t end until 1975. Currently, U.S. assistance goes toward the Maritime Security Initiative, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, and foreign military financing. In 2017, the United States and Vietnam established a working group for the Cooperative Humanitarian and Medical Storage Initiative, which provides humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
2017 obligations: $152.6 million (1% decrease from 2016)
Top sectors: emergency response ($147 million), government and civil society ($2 million), post-secondary education ($1 million)
The majority of USAID funds for the fiscal year 2017 were allocated to the Syria Humanitarian Response. The United States and Turkey have been NATO allies since 1952, but the relationship between the two countries has deteriorated in recent years. In 2018, President Donald Trump ordered the doubling of tariffs on Turkish imports of steel and aluminum, straining the relationship that had already suffered after Turkey refused to release Andrew Brunson, an American pastor arrested and charged with espionage in Turkey during the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
2017 obligations: $153.8 million (47% decrease from 2016)
Top sectors: conflict, peace, and security ($59 million); general environmental protection ($27 million); maternal and child health, family planning ($18 million)
The Philippines and the United States are development, trade, and security partners. USAID funds are primarily used to help the country maintain stability in conflict-affected areas and to help with disaster preparation. In May 2017, conflict broke out between armed groups and the government of the Philippines in Marawi, and the United States allocated $59.1 million toward humanitarian and recovery work in and around the area.
#44. Côte d'Ivoire
2017 obligations: $163.5 million (1% increase from 2016)
Top sectors: HIV/AIDS ($114 million), basic education ($15 million), basic health ($11 million)
The United States is working with the government of Côte d’Ivoire to help it become an emerging country by 2020. The majority of funds are allocated toward the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The CDC started partnering with the country in 1987, expanding PEPFAR in 2004. Around 2.8% of the country’s population between the ages of 15 and 49 have HIV (3.9% women and 1.9% men). In 2003, it was 7%.
2017 obligations: $167.8 million (785% increase from 2016)
Top sectors: conflict, peace, and security ($159 million); government and civil society ($7 million), emergency response ($2 million)
The United States and Russia have historically had a competitive, but diplomatic, relationship. U.S. funding in 2017 went toward combating terrorism and nuclear arms proliferation, with some funding for health and medical services.
2017 obligations: $169.8 million (37% decrease from 2016)
Top sectors: HIV/AIDS ($54 million), emergency response ($26 million), agriculture ($21 million)
Rwanda and the United States developed a diplomatic relationship in 1962. In 1994, the country experienced the most rapid genocide in history. More than a 500,000 Rwandan Tutsis were targeted and murdered in an atrocity some say the American government, along with other developed countries, could have prevented. Since then, the United States has provided PEPFAR funds for HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as support for basic needs like food and health services.
2017 obligations: $173.0 million (19% increase from 2016)
Top sectors: emergency response ($77 million); developmental food aid/food security assistance ($43 million); conflict, peace, and security ($25 million)
Following its independence from France, Niger—one of the poorest countries in the world—developed a diplomatic relationship with the United States in 1960. The U.S. provides funds for emergency assistance to help Niger recover from natural disasters, as well as agricultural assistance under the Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) initiative.2018 All rights reserved.