United States

As the world’s largest provider of official development assistance (ODA), the United States has substantial development programmes in all sectors and regions. Foreign assistance priorities include global health and security, tackling the climate crisis, promoting democracy and good governance while countering authoritarianism, and addressing discrimination and inequality. The United States’ total official development assistance (ODA) (USD 55.3 billion, preliminary data) increased in 2022, mainly due to support to Ukraine, as well as increased costs for in-donor refugees from Afghanistan. ODA represented 0.22% of gross national income (GNI).

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

The Biden-Harris administration has renewed the United States’ commitment to global development and international co-operation as a key instrument of American foreign policy. The role of development co-operation is articulated in the 2022 National Security Strategy. The Department of State and USAID Joint Strategic Plan FY 2022-2026 spells out their development co-operation goals. Integrated country strategies set out objectives for development co-operation and the full range of bilateral relations. Cross-cutting aspects of bilateral co-operation are localisation of its assistance; stronger engagement with the private sector; digitalisation; an emphasis on diversity and inclusion; and the humanitarian, development and peace nexus. Through an executive order, it aims to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad to address domestic, transboundary and long-term impacts.

Although it provides most of its ODA bilaterally, the United States is also the world’s largest financial contributor to multilateral organisations. In governing bodies, it advocates, in particular, for organisational effectiveness. It plays a leadership and convening role at the international level, for instance, through a democracy summit in 2021 and 2022 and co-hosting a Global Food Security Summit in 2022.

The 2022 OECD-DAC peer review praised the United States for the overall magnitude of US foreign assistance, including in global health; its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in its programming and human resources; and its strong political commitment to locally led development and USAID’s internal system reform. The review found opportunities to: build on bipartisan political support to forge an effective whole-of-government approach; work closely with Congress so that appropriated funds better align with partner countries’ needs; diversify development finance instruments and their uptake; and keep conflict prevention at the core of programming across all countries. Learn more about the United States’ 2022 DAC peer review.

The United States provided USD 55.3 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2022 (USD 51.7 billion in constant terms), representing 0.22% of GNI.1 This was an increase of 8.2% in real terms in volume and an increase in the share of GNI from 0.20% in 2021. ODA has steadily increased since 2020. The United States has not committed to the 0.7% ODA/GNI target. The United States provided all of its ODA as grants in 2021.2

In 2022, the United States ranked 26th among Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member countries when ODA is taken as a share of GNI and is the top DAC provider in terms of total ODA volume. The United States is the largest humanitarian partner, and it provided the highest share of humanitarian assistance in 2021 (36.6% of bilateral ODA commitments). The largest share of gross bilateral ODA went to sub-Saharan Africa and to partner countries in the least-developed country (LDC) category.

The United States is committed to several international targets and Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

The United States provided a higher share of its ODA bilaterally in 2021. Gross bilateral ODA was 80.7% of total ODA. Twenty-four per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). The United States allocated 19.3% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2022, the United States provided USD 9 billion of gross bilateral ODA to Ukraine to respond to the impacts of Russia’s war of aggression, of which USD 198.3 million was humanitarian assistance (preliminary data). In 2021, it provided USD 304.7 million.

In 2022, the United States provided USD 2.6 billion in ODA for the COVID-19 response. The United States did not report donations of vaccines from their domestic supply in their ODA in 2021 or in 2022. In 2020 and 2021, the United States’ total bilateral support for COVID-19 response was USD 436.3 million and USD 4.9 billion, respectively.

In 2021, the United States provided USD 18.6 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 37% in real terms from 2020. Of this, USD 9.3 billion was core multilateral ODA, while non-core contributions were earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 0.1% of the United States' non-core contributions, and 99.9% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Ninety-one per cent of the United States’ total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2021 was allocated to the UN system and other multilateral organisations, notably for global health.

The UN system received 55.2% of the United States’ multilateral contributions, mainly in the form of earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 10.2 billion to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of the United States’ support (core and earmarked contributions) were WFP (USD 3.8 billion), UNHCR (USD 1.9 billion) and UNICEF (USD 646.6 million).

See the section on Geographic and sectoral focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2021, the United States’ bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 39 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented an increase of 23% in real terms from 2020.

In 2021, country programmable aid was 35.6% of the United States’ gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 45.2%. In-donor refugee costs were USD 4.7 billion in 2021, an increase of 201.4% in real terms over 2020, and represented 12.3% of the United States’ gross bilateral ODA.

In 2021, the United States mainly channelled bilateral ODA through the public sector, multilateral organisations and NGOs as earmarked funding. Technical co-operation made up 1% of gross ODA in 2021.

In 2021, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 8.2 billion of gross bilateral ODA. Zero per cent of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 21.1% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2020 to 2021, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 21.7% to 21.1%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation, and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2021, the United States’ bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 14.2 billion was allocated to Africa and USD 4.3 billion to Asia (excluding the Middle East), accounting respectively for 36.5% and 11.1% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 3.9 billion (10.1%) was allocated to the Middle East. Africa was also the main regional recipient of the United States’ earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2021, 25.4% of gross bilateral ODA went to the United States’ top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are in sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 39.2%, with 31% of this unallocated bilateral ODA spent on refugees in the donor country.

In 2021, the least developed countries (LDCs) received 31.9% of the United States’ gross bilateral ODA (USD 12.4 billion). This is greater than the DAC average of 22.9%. The United States allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (31.9%) to least developed countries in 2021, noting that 39.2% was unallocated by income group. The United States allocated 18.6% of gross bilateral ODA to land-locked developing countries in 2021, equal to USD 7.2 billion. The United States allocated 1.7% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states (SIDS) in 2021, equal to USD 662 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 16.4 billion in 2021, representing 42% of the United States’ gross bilateral ODA. Forty-three per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, increasing from 36.5% in 2020, while 7.6% was allocated to peace, decreasing from 10% in 2020. Three per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, the same as in 2020.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2021, more than one third of the United States’ bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 39.5% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 16.9 billion), with a strong focus on support to health (USD 11.4 billion), government and civil society (USD 3.3 billion) and education (USD 997.3 million). ODA for economic infrastructure and services totalled 3.1% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.3 billion), focusing on energy (USD 859.3 million). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 15.7 billion (36.6% of gross bilateral ODA commitments). In 2021, earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused on emergency response, health and general budget support.

In 2020-21, the United States committed 17.7% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (down from 21.6% in 2018-19, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 44.4%). This is equal to USD 6 billion of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 2.1% in 2020-21, compared with the DAC average of 4.5%. The United States includes gender equality objectives in 1.2% of its ODA for humanitarian aid, compared with the 2020-21 DAC average of 17.5%. The United States screens all activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (100% in 2020-21). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality, the DAC Network on Gender Equality and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2020-21, the United States committed 7.8% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 2.6 billion) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (DAC average of 34.3%), down from 8.2% in 2018-19. Unpacking the environmental data further:

  • Four per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC average of 11.3%.

  • Three per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 966.8 million) focused on climate change overall (the DAC average was 29%), down from 3.5% in 2018-19. The United States had an equal focus on mitigation (1.9%) than on adaptation (1.9%) in 2020-21.

  • Two per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 649 million) focused on biodiversity (compared with the DAC average of 6.5%), down from 2.6% in 2018-19.

Learn more about climate-related development finance and the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that the United States committed USD 112.5 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2021, up from USD 54.2 million in 2020. The 2021 value is equivalent to 0.3% of the United States’ bilateral allocable aid. Learn more about development co-operation in support of a sustainable ocean economy and the data platform on development finance for a sustainable ocean economy.

In 2021, the United States also:

  • Committed USD 34.5 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.1% of its bilateral allocable aid. Regarding the payment of local tax and custom duties for ODA-funded goods and services, the United Sates generally requests exemptions and makes this information available on the OECD Digital Transparency Hub on the Tax Treatment of ODA.

  • Committed USD 2.4 billion (6.5% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2021. The United States is among the top 10 official providers of aid for trade globally.

  • Committed USD 7.2 billion (19.6% of its bilateral allocable aid) to address the immediate or underlying determinants of malnutrition in developing countries across a variety of sectors, such as maternal health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) or agriculture.

The United States uses leveraging mechanisms to mobilise private finance for sustainable development. In 2021, the United States’ DFI, the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) together mobilised USD 5.2 billion from the private sector through direct investment in companies and special purpose vehicles, shares in collective investment vehicles, guarantees, and simple co-financing.

In 2020-21, 50.8% of mobilised private finance by the United States targeted middle-income countries and 26.5% LDCs and other low-income countries (LICs), noting that 22.7% was unallocated by income. During the same period, the top beneficiary region of this financing was Africa (35.1% of the total).

Mobilised private finance by the United States in 2020-21 mainly benefited activities in the banking & financial services (45.2%), industry, mining, and construction (18.5%) and energy (10.1%) sectors. Furthermore, over this period, 20.7% of the United States’ total mobilised private finance was for climate action.

Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

In 2021, the United States’ DFI DFC extended USD 2.7 billion through loans to the private sector. DFI also provides development guarantees (see section on Mobilisation of private finance).

In 2021, USD 99.2 million (3.7%) of the United States’ private sector instruments were allocated to the LDCs and other LICs, with a majority of 73.1% extended to middle-income countries and UMICs in particular (47.9%). Moreover, USD 514.4 million were unallocated by income.

The top three recipients included Brazil, India and Sri Lanka, together accounting for 48.2% of United States’ private sector instruments to developing countries in 2021.

In terms of sectoral distribution, 82.3% of the United States’ private sector instruments were extended in support of projects in banking & financial services, followed by energy (13.1%), unallocated / unspecified (3.8%), and agriculture, forestry, fishing (0.3%). Health, education and other social sectors received USD 6 million through private sector instruments. A share of 20.1% focused of this financing focused on climate change mitigation and/or adaptation.

USAID is an independent agency of the US government that manages the majority of ODA. It works closely with the State Department and receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. The Department of the Treasury has decision-making authority for multilateral development banks and key global funds. In 2019, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and USAID’s Development Credit Authority, Office of Private Capital and Microenterprise, enterprise funds, and sovereign loan guarantees portfolio were consolidated under the DFC, which has expanded authorities under the BUILD Act of 2018. A smaller percentage of ODA is managed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an innovative US foreign assistance agency whose mission is to reduce poverty through economic growth. In total, 21 US government agencies manage foreign assistance. In 2022, USAID had a total staff of over 10 000, with 36% posted in headquarters and 64% posted in partner countries (17% US staff and 46% locally hired). The MCC employs a total of 350 staff, with 315 in headquarters, 35 in partner countries and an undisclosed number of staff working for the local accountable entity. The DFC employs approximately 420 staff, with 12 employed overseas, not counting contractors hired to work in country offices.

A formal multi-stakeholder mechanism is the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid, which serves as a link between the US government and private voluntary organisations active in humanitarian assistance and development work overseas. CSOs active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education co-ordinate through the umbrella body InterAction.

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of the United States’ development co-operation. Select features are shown in the table below.

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation monitoring exercise tracks the effectiveness commitments’ implementation of the effectiveness commitments. Following a reform of the exercise during 2020-22, the 4th global monitoring round (2023-26) has resumed. More detailed results for the United States based on the 2016 and 2018 Monitoring Rounds can be found here. Monitoring profiles for other providers are available here.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

2022 OECD-DAC peer review of the United States: https://www.oecd.org/dac/oecd-development-co-operation-peer-reviews-united-states-2022-6da3a74e-en.htm

United States Agency for International Development (USAID): http://www.usaid.gov

Millennium Challenge Corporation: https://www.mcc.gov

US International Development Finance Corporation: https://www.dfc.gov

CSO umbrella organisation InterAction: https://www.interaction.org

United States’ practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs: Tools Insights Practices learning platform: https://www.oecd.org/development-cooperation-learning?tag-key+partner=united+states#search

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1961.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.


← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2019 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

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