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Foreign aid 101: A quick and easy guide to understanding US foreign aid

Foreign aid contributes to global poverty reduction, helps protect basic rights and liberties, and benefits America’s interests – all for less than one percent of the US federal budget.


3 things you may not know about foreign aid

  1. Americans vastly overestimate how much the United States spends on foreign aid.
    Surveys show that Americans think the US spends as much as 30 percent of the federal bud­get on foreign assistance - more than on Social Security or Medicare. But the reality is that just 0.7 percent of the US federal budget is devoted to poverty-focused foreign assistance, or $23.4 billion in FY2014.
     
  2. Development aid is not just wasted by corrupt governments.
    Most US development aid, or poverty-reducing foreign aid, is not even provided directly to foreign governments. About 85 percent goes through US-based government contractors and NGOs. Done right, foreign assistance can actually push governments to increase accountability to both their citizens and US taxpayers, building on the vast efforts of local leaders who are transforming their nations and neighborhoods.
     
  3. Americans spend more on candy, lawn care, and soft drinks than the US government spends on poverty-reducing foreign assistance.
    The US government spends about $80 per taxpayer on development aid. Compare that to what Americans spend: $101 per person on candy, the $126 per person on lawn care, and $204 per person on soft drinks.

Need we say more?

Oxfam’s Foreign Aid 101 is a quick and easy guide that dispels the common myths around foreign aid to developing countries and answers some fundamental questions as to why the US provides it and how it can be more effective.

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