United States

As the largest bilateral and humanitarian development co-operation provider of the DAC, the United States’ official development assistance (ODA) constitutes a significant share of global development co-operation funding (23% of DAC members’ total ODA in 2019). In 2019, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)’s and the Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Development Credit Authority were consolidated into a new International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). In 2018, USAID and OPIC together mobilised USD 3.6 billion from the private sector.

For the second year running, the United States has produced self-reliance country roadmaps for partner countries, building on 17 metrics. The metrics examine areas such as open and accountable governance; inclusive development; economic policy; and the relative capacities of the government, civil society, citizens and the economy. These roadmaps will serve to anchor the country’s strategies, inform strategic decisions and dialogue, and indicate when USAID might signal a strategic transition. The latest OECD-DAC peer review of the United States took place in 2016, with the next review planned for 2022.

ODA is guided by the United States’ National Security Strategy and the Joint Strategic Plan FY 2018-22 of the Department of State and USAID. USAID’s third Policy Framework “Ending the Need for Foreign Assistance”, released in 2019, serves as USAID’s guiding policy document.

Foreign assistance emphasises programmes, initiatives, and investments that support human dignity, that build on the innate desire of every community and country to shape their future, that protect United States’ security, and that advance American values and leadership. The purpose of United States’ foreign assistance is ultimately ending the need for it to exist, as illustrated in the second annual Journey to Self-Reliance Country Roadmaps. In early 2020, USAID announced its first Policy on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

The United States provided slightly less ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 34.6 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.16% of the United States’ gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 The fall of 0.4% in real terms from 2018 was due to reduced core contributions to multilateral organisations. The United States provides the largest ODA volume of any DAC member. Its ODA/GNI ratio ranked 23rd among DAC member countries in 2019. Under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, net ODA was USD 33.9 billion due to repayments on old loans.2

ODA levels in 2019 continued a trend of declining budgets since 2016, with relatively low ODA spent in support of gender, climate and the environment. The United States is the largest humanitarian partner, and close to half (46%) of gross bilateral ODA went to fragile contexts in 2018. The largest share of gross bilateral ODA went to sub-Saharan Africa. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, the United States provided the largest proportion of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 89% of total ODA, of which 21% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). The United States allocated 11% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

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In 2018, the United States’ total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations decreased. It provided USD 10.2 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 8.9% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 3.9 billion was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. All of the United States’ non-core contributions were softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, the United States’ total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the United Nations (UN), the World Bank Group and regional development banks. These contributions together accounted for 82% of the United States’ total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 67%, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 6.8 billion to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of the United States’ support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the World Food Programme (USD 2.0 billion), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (USD 1.6 billion) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (USD 739 million).

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Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, the United States’ bilateral spending decreased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 30.7 billion as gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented a decrease of 2.4% in real terms from 2017.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 47% of the United States’ gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, the United States channelled the largest proportion of its bilateral ODA through the public sector.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation; PPP: public-private partnership.

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 6.8 billion (22%) of gross bilateral ODA. This funding was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the United States (earmarked funding) with no funding provided as core contributions. Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs decreased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 24% to 22%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, the United States’ bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Africa. USD 11.0 billion was allocated to Africa and USD 7.0 billion to Asia (of which half to the Middle East), accounting respectively for 36% and 23% of gross bilateral ODA. Africa was also the main regional recipient of the United States’ earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, in line with its geographic priority. Thirty-two per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 26% of gross bilateral ODA went to the United States’ top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are fragile and/or in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, in line with its focus on fragile contexts and the poorest countries. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 36%.

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In 2018, least developed countries (LDCs) received 31.7% of the United States’ gross bilateral ODA (USD 9.7 billion). This is above the DAC country average of 23.8%. The United States allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA to the LDCs and the second-highest share (22.6%) to lower middle-income countries in 2018, noting that 36% was unallocated by income group. The United States allocated 2.2% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states in 2018, equal to USD 672 million.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 14.2 billion of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (46.3% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 43.2% of the total amount to fragile contexts. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of the United States’ bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 49% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 15.3 billion), with a focus on support to population policies and reproductive health (USD 6.0 billion), government and civil society (USD 5.2 billion), and health (USD 2.0 billion). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 7.3 billion (23% of bilateral ODA). Nine per cent of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 2.8 billion) were for administrative costs. Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused primarily on humanitarian aid and social infrastructure and services in 2018.

In 2018, the United States committed USD 31.8 million of ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.1% of bilateral allocable aid. The United States also committed USD 2.5 billion (9.0% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018. For the 2006-15 period, the United States was among the top 5 providers of aid for trade globally.

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In 2018, the United States committed 21% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (the same share as in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 5.6 billion of bilateral ODA commitments in support of gender equality. Out of this, the share of bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 2%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. A significantly higher share of interventions on social infrastructure and services and the productive sectors address gender equality than those on economic infrastructure. The United States screens all activities against the gender marker (100% in 2018). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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In 2018, the United States committed 7% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 2.0 billion) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, down from 9% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Four per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Three per cent (USD 952 million) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, down from 4% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). The United States has a greater focus on mitigation (3% in 2018) than on adaptation (2%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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In 2018, USAID, and its development finance institution, OPIC, together mobilised USD 3.6 billion from the private sector through guarantees, direct investment in companies or project finance special purpose vehicles, and simple co-financing arrangements.

Note: See the section on “Institutional set-up” regarding the United States’ institutional reform in 2019, merging the guarantee portfolio of USAID’s Development Credit Authority and OPIC under the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).

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Note: CIV: collective investment vehicle; SPV: special purpose vehicle.

Of the country-allocable finance mobilised from the private sector in 2017-18, 93.5% targeted middle-income countries and 6.5% targeted the LDCs.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

The United States’ private finance mobilised in 2017-18 mainly related to activities in the banking and financial services (52%); energy (10%); and transport and storage (8%) sectors. Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency of the US government that manages the majority of gross ODA and works closely with the State Department, receiving overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. In 2019, OPIC and USAID’s Development Credit Authority were consolidated under a new United States International Development Finance Corporation (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, 22 US government agencies manage foreign assistance.

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All US agencies implementing foreign assistance funding are required to meet monitoring and evaluation requirements of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (FATAA) of 2016, the Foundations for Evidence-based Policymaking Act and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Monitoring associated guidelines. Three US government agencies, the US Department of State, USAID and the MCC, manage and evaluate a significant share of US foreign assistance, and illustrate the implementation of FATAA and Evidence Act guidelines.

The Evaluation Policy of the Department of State includes independence and integrity as one of its three standards for evaluation. Under the Department of State, the Office of US Foreign Assistance oversees and supports implementation of the Department’s Program and Project Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Policy through provision of guidance, toolkits, templates and technical assistance. In USAID, the Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research oversees implementation of programme monitoring, evaluation and learning requirements as part of USAID’s Program Cycle. USAID’s Evaluation policy emphasises the principles of independence, transparency, relevance, rigor, local ownership, as well as the integration of evaluation into design. Meanwhile, the Department of Policy and Evaluation manages the MCC’s rigorous independent evaluations. Lastly, the Office of the Inspector General reviews the integrity of the programmes and operations of the Department of State, USAID and the MCC, among others, including the work of the evaluation departments. Read more on the United States’ evaluation system.

Read the United States’ evaluation plan.

Visit the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of the United States’ development co-operation.

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

US Agency for International Development (USAID): www.usaid.gov

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

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

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 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the provider’s effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. All 2019 statistics in this paragraph are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

© OECD 2020

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