Foreign Policy Blogs

Where Does U.S. Aid Go?

Though I tend to stick to climate related topics, new-to-me OECD foreign aid data (via William Easterly’s blog) seemed particularly relevant to draw attention to here.

Below is a graph showing all U.S. aid, by recipient, from 2004-2008.

Where Does U.S. Aid Go?

It’s like an ugly joke, rendered useless by illegible font and an unapparent color scheme.

But with a bit more consideration, I realized that the crowding is the message.  Barring a few exceptions (countries significant for defense or diplomacy?) the majority of recipient countries represent a mere sliver of the total USAID budget.  Further, when compared to each other, many countries become indistinguishable, in terms of overall aid allocation.

As Easterly points out, USAID is compelled to spend an increasing percentage of its budget on states that are strategically and militarily important, however incompatible this may be with development goals.

“…a growing proportion of what the US calls Official Development Assistance flows through the Pentagon rather than USAID.”

By the way, where is Israel?  Or is money given to Israel not considered aid?