In 2021, over 150 countries and territories, regional funds, and NGOs received aid worth more than $50 billion from the United States.
Congress allocates foreign assistance annually, considering factors such as national security, commercial interests, and humanitarian concerns. USAID data is utilized by USAFacts in this map to showcase the countries that have been the largest beneficiaries of aid.
Food Assistance and the War on Drugs
Throughout 2021, the United States focused its aid efforts on countries that were facing internal conflicts or struggling with humanitarian crises.
After the American troops withdrew in the same year, Afghanistan became the primary beneficiary of significant aid. The country received billions of dollars each year as part of the humanitarian response.
|Country||Assistance (USD)||Top Activity|
|🇦🇫 Afghanistan||$1.5 billion||Humanitarian Assistance|
|🇪🇹 Ethiopia||$1.4 billion||Emergency Food Assistance|
|🇯🇴 Jordan||$1.3 billion||Cash Transfer|
|🇾🇪 Yemen||$1.1 billion||Emergency Food Assistance|
|🇸🇸 South Sudan||$1.0 billion||Emergency Food Assistance|
|🇨🇩 DRC||$891 million||Emergency Food Assistance|
|🇸🇾 Syria||$844 million||Humanitarian Assistance|
|🇳🇬 Nigeria||$828 million||Global Health Supply Chain|
|🇨🇴 Colombia||$761 million||Counter-Narcotics|
|🇸🇩 Sudan||$620 million||Emergency Food Assistance|
Several African nations that are facing severe famine and internal conflicts are among the top countries that receive aid from the United States. Additionally, Colombia is a prominent recipient of millions of dollars in aid to combat drug trafficking and related issues, placing it in the top 10 beneficiaries.
Israel Leading in Aid Over Time
Over the years, the United States has distributed a total of $3.75 trillion in foreign aid since the conclusion of World War II, taking inflation into account.
During the post-war era, foreign aid reached its highest point, largely due to the Marshall Plan. The main objective of this program was to aid in the reconstruction of the economic infrastructure of Europe after World War II.
In the year 1949, foreign aid provided by the United States amounted to almost $100 billion, which was the highest it has ever been.
Over the course of several decades, the United States has provided Israel with an enormous amount of foreign aid, making it the biggest recipient of such assistance to date. With a cumulative sum exceeding $300 billion, the vast majority of which has been allocated towards military support, Israel has been able to develop multiple projects, including an advanced missile defense system.
The United States has been providing foreign aid to Israel mainly to protect its interests in the region. Israel is located in close proximity to Syria in the northeast, Lebanon which is influenced by Hezbollah in the north, and an ongoing Islamist insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai to the south.
Vietnam, after a long and devastating conflict that resulted in the loss of millions of Vietnamese and roughly 58,000 American lives, has become the second-largest beneficiary of financial support from Washington. These funds are utilized for various purposes such as economic and technological cooperation, military support, and even for aiding the cleanup efforts from the usage of Agent Orange by the U.S. military during the war.
The United States has been providing Egypt with significant foreign aid since 1975. The primary reason for this aid is to ease tensions in the Arab-Israeli context as part of diplomatic efforts. During the Cold War, South Vietnam, South Korea, and other countries received significant aid packages from Washington. The focus of the majority of funds since 2003 has been on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The Debate Surrounding U.S. Foreign Aid
The Congressional Research Service released a report stating that foreign aid can be utilized to enhance the global influence of the United States, address global issues, and promote shared values.
However, according to the report, there are still some Americans and Members of Congress who believe that providing foreign aid is an expense that the country cannot afford, especially with the current budget deficits and other pressing budget needs.
The federal government’s total expenditures in 2021 was constituted by approximately 0.7% of U.S. aid to other countries. As a part of Visual Capitalist’s Creator Program, this article showcases data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
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